Thiruvananthapuram: An expert on migration has rebuffed reports of an exodus of Keralites from the Middle East and said that migration from Kerala to Saudi Arabia and the UAE would continue for the next two decades.
"In the past one decade, there were many reports that Keralites and Indians would have to return to India from the Middle East. This is just a rumour," S. Irudayarajan, head of International Migration at the Centre for Development Studies here, who has done extensive studies on the subject for the past two decades, told IANS.
He was responding to media reports that about four lakh Keralites employed in Saudi Arabia would have to return after the Saudi government decided to follow a strict policy of employing locals.
"Migration figures show that in the past four years, more Keralites migrated to Saudi Arabia than to the UAE," Irudayarajan said.
According to the annual report of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Saudi Arabia continues to be the desired destination among low- and semi-skilled workers from India, attracting 289,297 people in 2011.
In 2011, 2.28 million Keralites were working abroad. The number was 2.19 million in 2008, 1.84 million in 2003 and 1.36 million in 1998.