Thousands of Ugandans are migrating to the Middle East in search of menial jobs

Ugandans heading to the Middle East
  • According to the Ministry of Women, Employment, and Social Development, in Uganda, the Middle East is experiencing an influx of Ugandans looking for domestic jobs. 
  • In 2022, the Ministry recorded 84,966 migrants to the Middle East, the majority of whom when to Saudi Arabia. 
  • This is partly due to the fact that Uganda has a bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia. 

According to information from Uganda's Ministry of Women, Employment and Social Development, at least 7,724 migrant workers departed Uganda on a monthly average in 2022 in pursuit of work in the Middle East.

A Ministry of Women report on migrant labor covers the 11 months up to December 2022 and contains the specifics. The 7,724 average monthly return yielded a yearly total of 84,966, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar hosting the most migrant workers from Uganda.

At least 77,914 of the 84,966 migrant workers, of whom 55,643 were primarily housemaids, went to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and Uganda have a bilateral trade agreement, which may be the reason why Saudi Arabia accepts more migrant workers than other nations.

The bilateral agreement with Jordan was suspended due to difficulties in monitoring brought on by a great distance between the supervising embassy, which is in Riyad, Saudi Arabia, according to Mr. Milton Turyasiima, the assistant commissioner for employment services at the Ministry of Gender, who, over the weekend, spoke to the Monitor, a news Agency focused on events in Uganda. He also noted that Uganda's bilateral agreement with the United Arab Emirates is not operational.


He disclosed that Uganda rakes in $600m (Shs2.2 trillion), annually, from migrant labor to the Middle East, of which, recording the most revenue from Saudi Arabia. During the period under review, Qatar received 3,549 migrant workers from Uganda while the United Arab Emirates received 1,949. Iraq and Somalia, which received 804 and 648 workers, respectively, rounded off the top five destinations for Uganda’s migrant workers.

In the 11 months leading up to December, there were 4,870 cleaners and 1,476 security guards from Uganda, in the Middle East. 499 and 172 Ugandans, respectively, went to the Middle East at that time to work as servers, waiters, and drivers.

Uganda has seen a sharp increase in the number of migrant workers during the past ten years, particularly to the Middle East. Yet, the majority work in informal jobs for an average salary of Shs1m. Acute unemployment and a severe lack of access to financing for business are the main causes of the increase.

A portion of Ugandans, the bulk of whom work in the Middle East, have criticized the government for failing to implement government-to-government rules that safeguard the rights of the Ugandan migrant workers.



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