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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 Eva Fernandes
The myth of the Emirati is something many expats are familiar with, and I, being a second generation expat, am particularly familiar with. The myth, for those who are new to the country, is that the country is home to a native population called Emiratis: you don’t know where they live, which schools their children go to, and you don’t even know which mosques they frequent: all you do know is that they count for an underwhelming percentage of the UAE population and are active in government positions.
Having grown up in Dubai, it should come as no surprise to most expats to know that, by the time I was sixteen (and having lived in the Emirates my whole life) I didn’t personally know a single Emirati. Where was I to meet them? Taught at a British curricular school by Italian nuns and South Asian teaches, my class mates were a slice of old Dubai: Filipinos, expatriate Arabs (mainly Egyptians), Sri Lankans, Pakistanis and a lot of Indians.
It was only when I began studying in a local university and held a part time job – in which capacity I interacted on a daily basis with many Emiratis – that the myth finally became my reality. Several years later, I no longer resort to wonder at the mention of these mythical folk. In fact, I am happy to say some of my closest friends are Emirati; though quite probably the same can’t be said by most other expats.
The Emirati population, or lack there-of, is a serious issue, one that is keenly felt by the government. It is, of course, in the government’s interest to see more Emiratis in the workforce and in the population as a whole. With there being just under 900,000 Emiratis in the UAE, the ‘locals’ make up a rather underwhelming 13.3 percent of the population. So over the years, the government has introduced a variety of Emiratisation measures, which Kipp has reported on.
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