Remittances from GCC countries will continue to grow at double-digit rates in 2009, the region´s largest money transfer companies say, defying the economic outlook and talk that labourers are leaving the Emirates in droves. "The Gulf has more potential to fight the downturn and to emerge better than other regions" said Jean Claude Farah, regional vice president at Western Union, the world´s largest money transfer company. "Even if of 100 construction projects 70 remain, they still need labourers who will fuel remittances." Mr Farah said the Gulf remained one of the company´s most successful regions with the fastest growth rates. "You can see growth rates slowing but (the number and volume) of remittances will still grow at double-digit rates in 2009." However, remittances from local labourers are expected to grow at a slower pace after oil prices declined and the construction industry contracts. With property prices sharply lower in the UAE, many developers, particularly in Dubai, have cancelled or put projects on hold, forcing companies to send low-paid construction workers and expatriates back home. Some US$263 billion (Dh965bn) worth of projects have been affected, according to Morgan Stanley. The remittance industry plays a large role in the region as migrant workers account for the bulk of the population in many GCC countries. Widely seen as a shadow sector to banking, the money transfer industry enables migrant workers to transfer their monthly cash pay to their families who can pick up the funds at a nearby post office, agent or other outlet. In 2007, workers' transfers in the UAE totalled Dh32 billion, according to the Central Bank's website. firstname.lastname@example.org
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