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Indian Community in UAE


Indian expatriate community is the largest ethnic community in UAE constituting roughly 30 per cent of the country’s population. The number of resident Indian Nationals is estimated to be 3.5 million in 2021 as per UAE records.  Approx. 20% of the diaspora is in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and rest in 6 Northern Emirates including Dubai. Though most of the Indians living here are employed, about 10 per cent of the Indian population constitutes dependent family members. Among the Indian States, Kerala is the most represented followed by Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. However, Indians from the Northern States, all put together, also form significant portion of the UAE Indian population.

Indian contact with the UAE dates back several centuries owing to trade and commercial links between the various Emirates of UAE and India. It uniquely provides a breadth in terms of numbers and depth in terms of categories of workers employed which distinguishes it from every other expatriate community in the UAE.

The profile of the community has changed with the evolving needs of the country: in the 1970s and 1980s, when the principal requirement here was for blue – collar workers, the Indian community was blue - collar to the extent of 85-90 per cent, with a negligible percentage of professionals. In the 1990s, as the need for professionals to meet the need of the expanding service sector emerged, the profile of the community changed, and today, around 35 per cent of the Indian community is made up of professionally qualified personnel, businessmen & other white collar non-professionals and their families.

Demographic profile

The UAE population as per UAE Government data was 92,82,410 in 2020 a large proportion of whom are immigrants from foreign countries including India. The approximate break-up of Indian immigrants in UAE is as follows:

65% belong to the blue-collar category (employed mostly in construction companies, municipalities, agricultural farms)

20% belong to the white collar non-professionals (clerical staff, shop assistants, salesmen, accountants, etc.) and 15% are professionals and businessmen.

Indian Community and Prominent Indians in UAE

The Indian community has played a major role in the economic development of the UAE. The Indian community is respected for its technical competence, sense of discipline and its almost absence of involvement with criminal activity compared to other expatriate communities. In view of these qualities, Indian expatriates enjoy an advantage over other nationalities.

15 eminent Indians and one Indian Community Association from UAE have been honored with Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award namely Mr. Yussuff Ali M.A, Mr. Syed M Salahuddin, Mr. B.R. Shetty, Mr. Krishnamurthy Kumar, Dr. J.R. Gangaramani, Dr. Azad Moopen, Mr. Mohan Jashanmal, Mr. P. Bava Haji, Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil Parambath, Mr. Bharat Kumar Jayanti Lal Shah, Mr. Ashraf Palara Kunnummal, Mr. Vasu Sharaff, Mr. Girish Pant, Mr. Surender Singh Kandhari, Dr. Zulekha Daud and India Social & Cultural Centre (ISC) Abu Dhabi.

Mr. Yussuf Ali was conferred the Padma Shri by the President of India in 2008 and in the following year Dr. B.R. Shetty and Mr. Sunny Varkey were also honoured with Padma Shri award. Dr. J.R Ganagaramani, Shri Azad Moopen and Shri Sundar Menon were also conferred the Padma Shri award in the year 2010, 2011 and 2016 respectively.


Indian Associations and Cultural activities of the community

Keeping in line with the diverse linguistic and cultural ethos of India, there are various linguistic/regional associations for social and cultural activities. All sections of the Indian community are culturally very active. UAE has a system of registering social organizations of the expatriate community and, within the guidelines laid down by the UAE Government, such associations can function freely. There are six registered Indian Associations in Abu Dhabi/Al Ain.

1. India Social and Cultural Center, Abu Dhabi
2. Abu Dhabi Malayalee Samajam
3. Kerala Social Center
4. Indian Islamic Center
5. Indian Social Center, Al Ain
6. Indian Ladies Association

The registered associations are umbrella bodies and smaller cultural/regional groupings (affiliated to the registered associations) also function under them. These associations extend support to the welfare initiatives of the Mission and conduct cultural/welfare activities regularly including sports activities. The Indian associations arrange cultural programmes tapping local talent as well as by bringing professional artists from India.

A number of cultural programmes involving prominent film artists; music and dance troupes get organized from time to time. Even though, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was closed in 2014, the Mission continues to host cultural troupes from ICCR and organize various cultural programmes both in its auditorium as well as at other prominent locations in UAE in collaboration with various Indian associations on a regular basis.

Details of registered Indian Associations in Abu Dhabi/Al Ain

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Contact details




India Social & Cultural Center, Abu Dhabi



(website): http://iscabudhabi.com/




Indian Social center, Al Ain






Indian Islamic Center, Abu Dhabi






Kerala Social Center, Abu Dhabi







Abu Dhabi Malayalee Samajam

(website): http://www.abudhabimalayaleesamajam.com/




Indian Ladies Association, Abu Dhabi



                                                                             Last updated in November 2022