Outward personal remittances by expats in the UAE edged down to Dh79.6 billion in the first six months of 2020 compared with Dh80.96bn in the previous corresponding period, according to the Central Bank of the UAE.
However, remittances in the first half of 2020 already account for 48.2 per cent of the total money transferred by UAE expats during 2019, which totalled Dh165bn.
Global remittances could fall as much as 20 per cent this year due to the Covid-19 crisis impacting migrant workers, resulting in lower salaries and job losses, the World Bank said in April.
"There is an overall drop in the number of remittances in 2020," Rajiv Raipancholia, chief executive of Orient Exchange, told The National. "We have seen a significant drop of 30 per cent from March to August 2020 when compared with March to August 2019.
According to the World Bank, global remittances will drop to $572bn in 2020 from $714bn in 2019, marking the steepest decline in at least 30 years. By comparison, remittances decreased by only about 5 per cent in 2009 following the global financial crisis.
From January to March, UAE expats remitted Dh41.4bn, but this dropped to Dh38.2bn in the second quarter of this year, according to data released today by the Central Bank.
A major chunk of remittances (76 per cent) was transferred through money exchange companies and the rest through banks in the UAE.
India was the top-receiving country for remittances made by UAE expats, followed by the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and the US.
In 2019, the top five remittance recipient countries globally were India ($83.1bn), China ($68.4bn), Mexico ($38.5bn), the Philippines ($35.2bn) and Egypt ($26.8bn), according to the World Bank.