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Do Emiratis face ‘extinction’?
A decrease in fertility rates combined with an imbalanced demographic could lead to UAE nationals – already a minority in their own country – disappearing altogether, warn experts.
February 4, 2010 1:08 by Aarti Nagraj
Emiratis could become ‘extinct’ in the next hundred years due to declining fertility rates, economic pressures, and the fact that UAE nationals are marrying later, according to a leading economist.
“Because of a huge demographic problem, UAE nationals face the threat of extinction,” says Abdulrazzaq Faris al-Faris, the chief economist and CEO, Economic Policy and Research at the Dubai Economic Council.
Speaking through a translator at a conference organized by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), al-Faris said the fertility rate in the UAE had dropped by 50 percent over the last two decades, and in 2007, stood at just 3.5 percent. By 2020, the rate might drop further to between 1.73 and 2 percent, he said, adding that UAE nationals may eventually “disappear”.
The declining fertility rate could further exacerbate the demographic imbalance in the UAE. While the population is expected to increase to 7.5 million this year, up from 5.6 million in 2006, there is an ongoing decline in the number of Emiratis relative to the number of expatriates. According to a report by the National Human Resources Development and Employment Authority, UAE nationals made up 24.4 percent of the total population in 1995, but this dropped to 15.4 percent in 2006. And Emiratis could account for just 13.3 percent of population this year if “appropriate correctional procedures and policies were not taken to address the issue”.
The population problem has to be resolved by the people at the top, says Souad Mohamed Sherif, an assistant professor at Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics in the University of Sharjah. “It has to be done by the government, from the policy of the government, like when the government encourages people to have more kids, and supports people who have more kids,” she tells Kipp.
Al-Faris agrees that the government needs to look at the social problems faced by UAE nationals.