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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] now delay their marriage decision because, although there are some wealthy people, [others] can’t find housing,” he tells Kipp. “Some people can’t find jobs and even those who do find jobs, these are not enough to sustain and support their families,” he says.
Another factor essential for the growth of the UAE national population is improving the services like health and education, says Sherif.
“If I know that [my children] are going to have the best education, I don’t mind having more kids,” she says. “If I know they have the best health service, I don’t mind [having more kids]. But now you find that people are suffering. [The children] can’t compete in the private sector because they can’t perform like the foreigners – this has to be changed,” she says.
But more important than the social factors are the rules regulating the labor market, which al-Faris says have to be changed immediately. There is a massive growth in the working population, despite the productivity not seeing an equivalent increase. There are too many unskilled workers in the country who shouldn’t be here, says al-Faris: “I think part of the growth in our labor market is supply driven. It is not demand driven,” he says.
According to him, there is an excessive increase in the number of establishments and companies in the UAE, some of which provide services that are not necessarily required. “It is just to provide job opportunities for people who otherwise would have been unemployed in their countries,” he says.
But are UAE nationals willing to take up jobs performed by unskilled workers? “Not necessarily,” says al-Faris. He argues that there is an oversupply of services – and if the number of small businesses is reduced, there may not be a need for so many jobs to be filled: “Why do I need hundreds of small shops, hundreds of groceries, and thousands of people to repair tires, and maybe barbers. We need to regulate these small sectors.”