- Nearly 700 expatriates from Khajura village do businesses in Riyadh markets
- Many changed their fortune by doing furniture and home decor businesses
- They now own real estates such as markets and houses in the region
- Expatriates send their families in Khajura an average of Tk1 lakh per month
- Most expatriates send money mainly through hundi, instead of legal channel
- Many expatriates also send money through banks
Didarul Islam from Khajura village in Naldanga upazila of Natore went to Saudi Arabia in 1999. Two years later, he took his younger brother Mostafizur Rahman to the gulf country.
Now they live with their families in Riyadh.
They were not financially well off before moving abroad. Now they own three markets – two in Khajura and one in Natore town – and 10 big ponds.
They have also bought a five-storey house in the district town apart from building a multi-storey house in their village.
Didarul's another younger brother Ershad Ali said his two brothers have the business of furniture and home decor items in Riyadh. They have bought shops there.
They do not have any plan to return to Bangladesh permanently, he said.
"We have 40 relatives, including cousins, nephews and nieces, in Saudi Arabia," he added.
Jonab Ali Milon, who recently came home from Saudi Arabia, said "Around 700 Saudi expatriates from Khajura village do businesses of furniture and home decor items in several markets of Riyadh while others do jobs in other parts of the country."
Around 800 people of this village live in Saudi Arabia. Most of them have changed their fortune by doing businesses of furniture and home decor items in the Saudi capital.
There is no mud house in Khajura village now. According to locals, most of the land in Natore district town now belongs to the expatriates.
Most of the expatriates send money to the country mainly through hundi, under the rudder money transferring system. However, many also send money through banks.
A hundi trader, seeking anonymity, said that Saudi expatriates send an average of TK2 lakh every day through him.
"Around 600 expatriates from Khajura village each send their families an average of Tk1 lakh per month while the amount sent by other expatriates is less than that," he said. Therefore, expatriates of the village send remittance worth at least Tk6 crore per month.
Habibur Rahman, manager of the head office of Islami Bank in Natore, said the bank deals with Tk7-8 crore worth of remittances per month on an average.
In January, Agrani Bank in Natore received Tk1.20 crore in remittances, said Moniruzzaman, manager of the head office of the bank in the district.
According to the Khajura Union Parishad, 868 out of 26,194 residents of Khajura Union are Saudi expatriates. Among them, 500 expatriates are from Khajura village as per the 2019 survey.
The number of voters in the village is 3,800 while around 10,000 people live there.
However, according to locals, 3,000-4,000 people from Khajura Union live in Saudi Arabia.
Abdul Momin Sarkar of Khajura village went to Saudi Arabia in 2004. The first three years, he did a job there.
He then rented a shop in Haraj Bin Qasim of Riyadh and started selling sofa covers and curtains. Later, he took his brother to Saudi Arabia.
After 13 years, he returned home.
While staying abroad, he bought land for building houses in his village and in Natore town. At present, he has assets worth Tk2-3 crore. Now he is doing business here.
Momin Sarkar said, "28 members of our clan, including my brother, my father's five brothers, their sons, my grandfathers and their children, live in Saudi Arabia."
Khajura village is 20 kilometres away from Natore town. On one side of the village is the Halti Beel, a branch of the Chalon Beel and on the other side is the branch of the Atrai.
Even though agriculture is the main occupation of the villagers, they started going to Saudi Arabia from the 90s.
However, there are some exceptions too. Some went to Saudi Arabia with free visas. After their visas expired, they had to work there illegally. Later, they came back home.
Hazrat Ali was in Saudi Arabia for four years. He could not arrange legal papers for staying there. He was arrested by the police and returned to the country a month ago after serving 20 days in jail.
He arranged money to go there by selling his house and land property. Now he is working in a garment factory in Dhaka.
"Now the situation in Saudi Arabia is not very good. Doing business there has also become difficult. Akama (valid work papers) is to be renewed every year and at that time you have to spend a large amount of money," said Saudi expatriate Jonab Ali Milon.