Gulf Employment: Sri Lankans Ride Job Wave to Keep Families Afloat Amidst Economic Turmoil
Gulf Employment: Sri Lankans Ride Job Wave to Keep Families Afloat Amidst Economic Turmoil

Colombo: When Nihal Gamage's native Sri Lanka experienced an unprecedented economic crisis last year, he was working in Riyadh.

Gamage's livelihood as a businessman in the Kingdom became a lifeline for his family back in the coastal town of Balapitiya, where millions of Sri Lankans were struggling with skyrocketing inflation and shortages of basic necessities.

Gamage, who has worked in the Saudi capital for more than three decades, told Arab News that he and his coworkers "were really blessed to be in Saudi Arabia, where our salaries were uninterrupted during the time of crisis."

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"Those who were employed in the Gulf were fortunate. In order to ensure that our dependents could easily purchase their necessities, we upped our remittances to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankans endured the worst financial crisis in the nation's history in 2022. At the height of the crisis, when the island nation eventually defaulted on its foreign debt, the president and his cabinet were removed, and the inflation rate reached a record high of roughly 70% in September, many endured days-long lines in snaking fuel lines and protracted power outages.

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Gamage said, "We were really shocked to learn that our motherland had gone bankrupt. "During this time, we performed numerous charitable acts. We migrant workers provided dry rations and other necessities to those in need in Sri Lanka.

Gamage is one of the 1.2 million Sri Lankans who are employed abroad today; this population has historically been a significant source of Sri Lanka's foreign reserves. About 850,000 of them reside and work in Gulf nations.

According to L.K. Ruhunage, a labour migration researcher and former deputy general manager at the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, "the economic crisis was a big blow to all Sri Lankans living in the country as well as abroad."

"Those who worked in the Gulf were fortunate because they were paid well and had enough money to support their families back home."

Many sent additional funds to support friends, family members, and neighbours in need.

According to Ruhunage, they had the support of their employers in the Gulf.

This was the situation with M.H.M. Manasique, who works in the Al Mulla Group's administration in Kuwait.

According to Manasique, Kuwait has been a close friend of Sri Lanka since the beginning of time.

"I am happy to report that the majority of Kuwaiti employers treated their Lankan workers with compassion and even provided for them financially in an effort to aid those who are suffering in Sri Lanka."

Ali Packeer's family relied solely on his income to make ends meet because he has worked in Saudi Arabia for the past 30 years.

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He said that it "helped in many ways" to protect the family from the unexpected rise in the cost of food, milk, medicine, and fuel.

"We were fortunate to be in Saudi when the crisis struck our nation because we were able to provide a small amount of support for our friends, family, and next of kin."

For the first time in months, Sri Lanka's inflation rate fell to single digits in July. According to data released on Monday, the country's key inflation rate nearly fell in half from 12 percent in June to 6.3 percent as a result of an IMF rescue package worth $2.9 billion.

Packeer believed the crisis would soon come to an end.

"The common man on the island could not take it," he continued. "We are headed towards recovery,"


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