Forced Migration of Muslims from Kerala to Gulf Countries

  • A. T. Ajmal Khan


In India, the literature on migration studies significantly captured the phenomena of emigration from Kerala to the Gulf countries. In Kerala, largest chunk of emigrant population is constituted by Muslims, but the existing literature put less focus on Muslims migratory pattern. With this outline, this chapter examines the forced nature of migratory pattern among the Muslims from Malappuram district, Kerala, to the Gulf countries. The findings from the fieldwork conducted among the Muslims shows that the factors that motivated the Muslim youth in Malappuram go beyond the reasons mentioned in the existing literature on migration from Kerala. The evidences from the village suggest that the socioeconomic situation that existed during 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and also the prevalence of poverty and unemployment level among the Kerala Muslims triggered them to emigrate to the Gulf countries, mainly to Saudi Arabia. Poverty, joblessness, availability of Umrah and free visa to Saudi Arabia, prevailing dowry system and the practice of luxurious marriage culture existed in the village. Coupled with one or more factors mentioned above, the dream and aspiration to work in the Gulf to enhance their standard of living motived them to emigrate. These suggest the forced nature of emigration from Malappuram to Gulf region.


Muslims Kerala Gulf Forced migration 



I thank Prof. Prem Saxena and Prof. S. Irudaya Rajan for their valuable comments and suggestions to develop this chapter. An older version of this chapter was also presented at the Annual meeting of Population Association of America in 2016 at Washington, DC, USA.


  1. Crisp, J. (2008). Beyond the Nexus: UNHCR’s Evolving Perspective on Refugee Protection and International Migration. Geneva: UNHCR, Policy Development and Evaluation Service.Google Scholar
  2. Düvell, F. (2006). Illegal Immigration in Europe. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. ICOE. (2009). Impact Assessment of Global Recession on Indian Migrant Workers in Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Malaysia. New Delhi: Indian Council of Overseas Employment.Google Scholar
  4. Joseph, K. V. (2001). Factors and Pattern of Migration: The Kerala Experience. Journal of Indian School of Political Economy, 13(1), 55–72.Google Scholar
  5. Kerala Development Report. (2005). Planning Commission and Center for Development Studies. Thiruvananthapuram: Government of Kerala. Available in
  6. Khadria, B. (2006). India: Skilled Migration to Developed Countries, Labour Migration to the Gulf. Migración y Desarrollo, (7).Google Scholar
  7. Khan, A. (2014). Gulf Migration and Development of Malabar: Re-Visiting the Development of Malabar and Muslim. Islam and Muslim Societies Journal., 7(2), 39–50.Google Scholar
  8. Khan, A. (2015). Gulf Migration, Social Change and Mobility Among Kerala Muslims. In S. Ajay (Ed.), Diaspora, Development and Distress: Indians in the Persian Gulf (pp. 150–163). Bengaluru: Rawat.Google Scholar
  9. Koppenberg, S. (2012). Where Do Forced Migrants Stand in the Migration and Development Debate. Oxford Monitor of Forced Migration, 2, 77–90.Google Scholar
  10. Naidu, L. (1991, February 16). Indian Labour Migration to Gold Countries. Economic and Political Weekly, 26(7).Google Scholar
  11. Prakash, B. A. (1998). Gulf Migration and Its Economic Impact: The Kerala Experience. Economic and Political Weekly, 33, 3209–3213.Google Scholar
  12. Sachar, R., Hamid, S., Oommen, T. K., Basith, M. A., Basant, R., Majeed, A., & Shariff, A. (2006). Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India. Working Papers No. 22136. East Asian Bureau of Economic Research, New Delhi.Google Scholar
  13. Turton, D. (2003). Conceptualising Forced Migration. Refugee Studies Centre.Google Scholar
  14. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (2004). Convention Plus Issues Paper on Targeting of Development Assistance (Draft, June 2004).Google Scholar
  15. Venier, P. (2007). From Kerala to the UAE: Emerging Trends in a Mature Labour Migration System. The Development of Entrepreneurial Initiatives.Google Scholar
  16. Zachariah, K. C., & Rajan, S. I. (2007). Economic and Social Dynamics of Migration in Kerala, 1999–2004. Analysis of Panel Data, WP384. Center for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram.Google Scholar
  17. Zachariah, K. C., & Rajan, S. I. (2016). Kerala Migration Study 2014. Economic and Political Weekly, LI(6), 66–71.Google Scholar
  18. Zachariah, K. C., Mathew, E. T., & Rajan, S. I. (1999). Impact of Migration on Kerala’s Economy and Society (Centre for Development Working Paper No. 297). Thiruvananthapuram. Accessed 3 Mar 2018.
  19. Zachariah, K. C., Mathew, E. T., & Rajan, S. I. (2000). Socio-Economic and Demographic Consequences of Migration in Kerala. Working Paper No. 303. Center for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram. Available in Accessed on 10 Oct 2017.
  20. Zachariah, K. C., Mathew, E. T., & Rajan, S. I. (2001). Impact of Migration on Kerala’s Economy and Society. International Migration, 39(1), 63–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Zachariah, K. C., Mathew, E. T., & Rajan, S. I. (2003). Dynamics of Migration in Kerala: Determinants, Differentials and Consequences. Hyderabad: Orient Longman.Google Scholar


  1. Kerala Pandanam, Malayalam Titled (Kerala Study on How State of Kerala Live and Think) Kerala Peoples Sciences Movement-2006.Google Scholar
  2. Paithrakam. (2008). Pariyangadu Mahallu Smaranika (Pariyangadu Mohalla Report), Published by Samata Kerala Sunni Yuvajana Sangam, Anchachavadi Unit.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. T. Ajmal Khan
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Development StudiesTata Institute of Social SciencesMumbaiIndia
  2. 2.Centre for the Study of Developing SocietiesNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations