The expat invasion
Recently released figures from the National Bureau of Statistics paint a revealing portrait of the UAE today, not least the division of economic activity between expats and nationals.
May 30, 2010 1:01 by Samuel Potter
The population of the UAE now stands at 8.19 million, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, reports the National.
The figures were unveiled this weekend as the Bureau published its 2009 statistics in the first comprehensive report on the country’s economy. The figure is significantly higher than expected, and indicates a rise of 125,000 from the 2008 figure of 8.07 million. As the paper points out, “The 8.19m figure is higher than other official institutes have previously suggested.”
The numbers are particularly surprising in light of the economic crisis – while the UAE economy stagnated in 2009 (IMF figures actually suggest the economy contracted by 0.7 percent), the population growth continued. But the statistics provide us with some other vital insights, not least of which is the divide in economic activity.
According to the figures, nearly 80 percent of expats are economically active, compared to just 45 percent of Emiratis. Given that only around a fifth of the population of the UAE are nationals, this means that Emirati workers make up a minute quantity of the country’s work force.
An Emirates Business 24-7 article laments the wider situation in the GCC, and charts fears across the region over the impact caused by the huge influx of expatriate workers. As a report by the Riyadh-based GCC Secretariat points out, “This development involves very serious implications for the demographic, economic and human future of the GCC countries.”
“After 10 years, we could see other peoples share [with] our citizens their land, ambitions and affairs,” said Bahraini Labour Minister Majeed Al Alawi. “There is a pressing need now for the GCC countries to find a common mechanism to tackle this serious problem.”
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