The government of Bangladesh will tighten background checks on its citizens coming to the United Arab Emirates for employment, UAE based newspaper Khaleej Times reported quoting a top diplomat at Bangladesh mission in Abu Dhabi.
‘As part of the ongoing discussions with the UAE authorities, we have agreed to tighten security and background checks on migrant workers coming to the UAE,’ Muhammad Imran, Bangladeshi ambassador to the UAE, told Khaleej Times.
The move is part of the South Asian country's efforts to curb crime rates, and ease work visa restrictions on its citizens wanting to take up jobs in the emirate.
‘There are some security concerns about an increase in the number of crimes committed by Bangladeshis in the UAE. We have assured the UAE government that steps will be taken to curb the problem,’ said the envoy.
Minister of expatriates' welfare and overseas employment, Nurul Islam, met with Saqr Ghobash, UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, in Abu Dhabi on May 16.
‘We are hopeful the work visa will soon be normalised, and more Bangladeshis will be able to come (to the UAE). There has been really positive outcome from the meetings between officials of both the countries,’ he added.
An estimated 700,000 to 800,000 Bangladeshi expats are working in the UAE, both in the skilled and unskilled sector. As per the embassy documents, between 700 to 800 Bangladeshis are currently serving prison terms in the UAE.
The envoy said his government already has a three-tier security check on all migrant workers, but the system will be further strengthened.
‘In 2014, the UAE and Bangladesh signed two agreements on security cooperation, that included a prisoner exchange programme.’
In 2015, UAE also opened a visa centre in Dhaka to facilitate easy visa procedures. ‘The centre is functional. But we hope it will operate in full swing once more recruitments to the UAE take place,’ said the envoy.
He said Bangladesh has also opened 70 training centres across the country to equip migrant workers with needed skills.
‘We are offering job-specific tailor-made training programmes, and also free cultural training to workers.’
The ambassador said a team of technical experts from the UAE had visited the training centres in October 2016, and ‘was happy with our efforts.’
‘Another meeting between Bangladeshi officials and Saqr Gobash on the sidelines of the GFMD (Global Forum for Migration and Development) in December 2016 has further strengthened the ties, and we are hopeful something good will soon come out of it.’
Bangladeshi government has also raised the concern of some of its citizens not being able to change jobs due to visa restrictions, and thus being exploited by their current employers.
‘UAE is implementing a lot of progressive labour reforms and we hope it will take into account the plight of many of these workers,’ said the envoy.