Labour shortage delays projects in UAE

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Dubai, Mar 12 (UNI) More than 160 construction projects in the UAE are being delayed because of an alarming shortage of the skilled labour, according to latest figures.

There are currently 160 billion dollars worth projects in Dubai alone and around one million labourers in the construction industry, with around 95 per cent of the workforce being foreigners.

Samir Khosla, vice-chairman of Dynamic Staffing Solutions, said across all industries in the UAE, 42.5 per cent of the expatriate workers are Indians. "Around 60 to 70 per cent of them are in the construction industry. Many main contractors are now looking at technology as a way to reduce the labour component." The rising living costs have made the countries like the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain unattractive for Indian workers and frequent strikes, which sometimes spill over to violence has marred the labour scene in the emirate.

The Indian government's move to impose a minimum wage was welcomed by NRI bodies and industry watchers as the bargaining power of Indian workers had gone up because of the economic growth back home.

But contractors in the UAE were lobbying the government to drop the move. "The Gulf market is perhaps the hottest construction market in terms of activity of all time. There's no sign of slowing or reduction. There have been booms in the past but not a sustained boom like this in the world construction industry,"David Savage, managing director of Al Habtoor Engineering, was quoted as saying by Gulf News.

According to Greg Christofides, executive director at Arabtec, "We currently have around 40,000 people. Our forecast for 2008 is to increase this by 50 per cent." UNI XC NC HS1138

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