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Marginalized no more?

Marginalized no more?

The credit crunch has slowed down the property market in Dubai, tripped its market and made a mess of the national credit system. But Emiratis hope that Dubai may reassess its plans and help redress the demographic balance.

November 12, 2008 3:20 by

Dubai’s sudden slowdown hasn’t been good to anyone. We’re sure that the 200 former employees of Damac Holding who’ve just been sacked would agree. But it has prompted some Emiratis to look at the bright side of the financial meltdown: at least now, Dubai won’t be booming as fast as it was. With a slowdown comes an opportunity for the local population to catch up with their booming emirate, and to reconcile with the vast changes that have taken place in Dubai over the past 15 years.

According to The Times, a London-based newspaper, Emiratis have spent years trying to find their place in Dubai’s bustling economy. And while some joined the emirate’s workforce and participated in the boom, others were marginalized because of their poor English-language proficiency, lack of marketable skills and work ethic.

But for Emiratis, the credit crunch has brought renewed hope. The global financial crisis has forced developers to hold off on their new projects; in short, the property-crazed emirate has had the rug pulled from under its cranes, and it’s being forced to reevaluate its future. This is precisely what Emiratis have been waiting for.

It isn’t the bust, nor the uncertainty they want, it’s the possibility that their future and cultural heritage may be part of Dubai’s new, and perhaps more realistic equation.

This isn’t to suggest that Emiratis have been overlooked by their government. On the contrary, Emiratis receive unprecedented benefits including land, money for building homes and early retirement plans. However, with the growing number of expatriates living in the Emirates (nationals make up roughly 15 percent of the total population), Emiratis fear they may become an invisible and disregarded minority in the UAE.

There is nothing to suggest, however, that Dubai’s slowdown may in fact change Emiratis’ predicament. But perhaps the possibility of the emirate’s approach changing, and a potential reduction in the number of foreigners in the emirate is enough to make some nationals hopeful. –DB

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