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
Whether or not the UAE will have the political will to restrict immigration remains to be seen, says Paul Dyer, fellow and program director at the Dubai School of Government. Such a move would drastically affect the economy, he says.
“It would raise the wages of expats if there is a restriction, and therefore close the gap between nationals and expats,” Dyer tells Kipp. But in turn, life will get more expensive, he adds.
The absence of a cheap labor may also encourage UAE nationals to work in positions which are they don’t currently occupy. “We hear it a lot that Emiratis won’t tend to take a certain kind of job,” he says. “But that attitude could change faster than we think, as long as the respectability of those jobs goes up, as they have in most of the developed world,” Dyer says.
“If you look at Europe for example, you have seen it move on from an economy where you have a dependence on very low-skilled workers to do manual types of labor. But because you had restricted immigration, and you had a growing demand for the work, the wage expectations of those workers went up and the perceived quality and respectability of those workers went up. So it’s no shame to be a plumber in Britain now.”
But while this may change the population structure, Dyer says that it is unlikely that Emiratis will outnumber expatriates anytime soon. “I think the cosmopolitan multi-cultural UAE is a thing of the future,” he adds.