Remittances routed by foreign workers overseas stood at an incredible QR47.5bn ($13bn) in 2011, with India topping the list of 10 largest recipient countries, official figures suggest.
Remittance volumes grew almost 27 percent last year, from QR37.4bn ($10.24bn) in 2010, Qatar Central Bank (QCB) statistics for 2011 released recently reflect. The Philippines, with a large number of expatriates, trailed India on the list as the second largest recipient of money transfers made from Qatar.
Interestingly, on the third spot was the US, while Egypt and the neighboring UAE ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Nepal, Bangladesh, the UK, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were the other countries figuring on the list.
This is, arguably, the first time the banking regulator has released remittance figures in some detail — in its 35th Annual Report made public last week. As expected, the main destination of remittance outflows was the Asian region accounting for more than half (53.7 percent) of the total. The Arab world had a share of barely 28.3 percent in the total.
The Americas, with a regional share of 7.6 percent in the total money outflows, stood third, elbowing Europe, for the first time, behind with a 7.4 percent share. India and the Philippines together received more than 72 percent of the total workers' remittances.
Citing the national statistics office — Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA ) — the banking regulator said in its 2011 annual report that foreign workers' population reached 1.2 million last year.
"Remittances are part of savings of the expatriate populations and continuous growth in their numbers reflects positive in the rise in money transfer volumes," the QCB said.
The ratio of the money outflow to Qatar's gross domestic product (GDP) stood at a high of 7.5 percent in 2011. Some 85 percent of the remittances were routed in the national currency of the final destination.
The QCB said it started a portal system last year and it noticed that money was transferred to as many as 190 destinations across the world by 2011-end. Exchange firms continue to dominate the remittance business, with a two-thirds market share.
QCB figures show that remittances have been growing steadily over the past several years, more than doubling since 2007, when the volumes totaled only QR20.59bn ($5.64bn). But foreign workers' population was also low at 768,000 in that year.