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Sri Lankan Migration to the Gulf: Female Breadwinners - Domestic Workers
Middle East Institute
  • Michele Ruth Gamburd, Portland State University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Women migrant labor -- Middle East,
  • Sri Lankans -- Employment -- Foreign countries,
  • Sri Lankans -- Migrations,
  • Women household employees -- Middle East -- Social conditions

Several waves of Sri Lankan migration have taken place since the country gained independence in 1948. Beginning in the mid-1950s, wealthy, educated, English-speaking elites have migrated to Commonwealth countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom. In addition, since the upsurge in ethnic hostilities in the early 1980s, Tamil-speaking Hindu migrants have left the country, with many settling in Canada. In contrast with these permanent migrants, since 1976 a growing number of Sri Lankans have become migrant workers. The leading destination for this migrant labor force — the majority of whom are women — has been the Gulf.


This is the publisher's final PDF. Originally published in Middle East Institute (

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Citation Information
Gamburd, M. (2010). Sri Lankan Migration to the Gulf: Female Breadwinners - Domestic Workers, pp. 13-15, available at: