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The Emirati-expat equation

The Emirati-expat equation

A well thought out strategy is needed to solve the current Emirati-minority status, says Eva Fernandes. And a dose of realism, too.

January 26, 2011 4:59 by

But the most recent comments emanating from the latest convening of the FNC with regards to population strike me as pretty impractical, and need some serious thought. Gulf News says that the latest FNC suggestion is that the UAE’s population strategy should be “to make Emiratis the majority in the country, or up to 40 per cent, by 2021.” A little further down in the article one can read the comments from RAK representative Dr Abdul Rahim Al Shahin: “Emiratis should make up to 80 per cent of the population within 20 to 25 years, a matter which requires a political decision.”

Now, given the current growth rates of the Emirati population and the current expatriate growth rates, it would be stretch to say that target is not very practical. Setting the target to something as high as 40 percent would either mean unnatural hike in Emirati birth rates or a mass exodus of expats; neither of which seem like a feasible situation for the Emirates to be in.

To be honest, given the government’s instance of maintaining the Emirati and consequently not naturalizing sections of the population nor granting its expats political rights, it is hard to think of a practical solution. But a practical solution, at least more practical than this one, must be thought of. If the UAE is focused on maintaining its status as business hub and leader for the Middle East, it needs to start considering the role and representation of Emiratis AND expatriates. I am not saying the FNC needs to decide on naturalization processes next week, but they need to start addressing what is already a major issue.

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1 Comment

  1. Aida Al Busaidy on January 27, 2011 2:31 pm

    I don’t think you understand what the Govt was talking about when they meant increasing the Emirati population to 40%. There is a good percentage of “bidouns” – hope you’ve heard of this term. People who basically, migrated or immigrated decades ago to this region with no documentation as they fled from their countries or were either doing business in this region and liked the place and stayed. Sadly, when the federation came about they never became Emiratized and now the Govt is working on fixing that and slowly bidouns are getting Emiratized.
    The 2nd group comes from the Rulers Court or from a Sheikhs order and this is only limited to specific groups and nationalities and of course the 3rd are people who have contributed to being the building blocks of the society and have been here for years such as Yemenis who work in the Army or Police force and have served over 25 years.
    I for one would want to maintain my culture, heritage, language and most importantly my religion so I’m sure the Govt wants to Emiratize people who at least speak Arabic and are Muslims -not that I have anything against others but these in addition to service should be considered when Emiratization.


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