Emerging Transnational Identities: Indian Skilled Migration in the UAE
India has been the source of the largest annual outflows to the GCC countries. The increasing significance of GCC countries as a destination for migrant workers is illustrated by the change in total migrant stock in those countries, which grew from 8.9 million in 1990 to 22.3 million in 2013, accelerating the importance of the economic relations between India and the GCC to a measure that cannot be over-emphasised and continues to gain momentum over the years. Both the economic transformation and reform, and socio-political atmosphere across the Gulf is partially owed to its Indian immigrant population. Even though there is a relevant amount of literature available on Indian labourers and low-salaried workers in the UAE, the international mobility of medium and highly skilled human capital and the resulting outcomes for the country of origin and country of destination have still not been appropriately explored. This research attempts to shift the focus away from traditional analysis of labour mobility and poses an emphasis on the international transfer of human talent as a key for diplomacy, economic resources, and creative power in business, science, technology, arts and culture. I am examining how the size and spread of the Indian community in the UAE endorses the rise of transnationalism, by which skilled emigrants participate in the full measure of economy and society in one country, while maintaining association with their country of origin, accelerating knowledge transfers and spurring creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. At the same time, the demand for directly productive talent in the workforce is interrelated with the demand for capital, and with the UAE facing still low rates of local expertise and India developing high levels of under employment, a migration flow will inevitably form towards the country that offers superior economic opportunities. Through the application of a renewed perspective on migration as a tool for diplomacy, members of the Indian diaspora are now no longer perceived as "lost children". Instead, the migrant identity has evolved, mobilising as transnational entrepreneurs or return migrants, who are uniquely positioned among the discourse of 'brain drain' and 'brain gain', and are increasingly influencing the policies and practices of both the Indian and UAE governments. Through this study, I will attempt to partially assess the magnitude of emigration of India's high-skill population through the exploration of the determinants of emigrant mobility using the individual stories of NRI entrepreneurs in the UAE. I will also be discussing the historical patterns of migration to the GCC region and the socio-economic impact of skilled immigration of Indian expatriates in the UAE economy. Furthermore, I will be examining the extent played by remittances, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and knowledge and technology transfers as key economic resources towards the development of the national economy and the potential reversal of the impact of 'brain drain'. Lastly, the research will contribute to a limited literature on transnational entrepreneurs and return and reverse migration, as the most understudied aspect of international migration, to illustrate how the migrant identity is fluid and evolving, and ultimately beneficial to both the host and home economy.