Will there be an exodus from Dubai?
The UAE labor minister said that the job market in the UAE has been affected by the global financial crisis. But is the worst yet to come?
June 18, 2009 11:55 by Aarti Nagraj
By March this year, investment bank EFG-Hermes predicted that Dubai’s population is likely to decline by as much as 17 percent, from 1.79 million in 2008 to 1.49 million this year.
However, in April, Ghobash rubbished reports of a mass exodus from the country, denying that the emirate’s population was decreasing due to the financial crisis.
“Where are the statistics these reports are based upon? I can challenge these estimates, there is no way they are valid,” he said, adding that workers were merely being sent home for holidays.
Ghobash said the ministry issued 662,000 work permits in the period between October 2008 and March 2009, while only 405,000 permits had been cancelled. These figures “show an increase … not a decrease” in the number of expatriate workers, he said.
However, many people believe that the main exodus of expatriates will take place during summer, when the academic year ends in June. In a recent poll by Kipp, over 24 percent of respondents said that they will be moving out of Dubai with their families once the school year ends this summer. Another 7 percent said they will be leaving because they have been made redundant and are unable to find work in the city.
While 16 percent said that they have debts in Dubai, and cannot leave, another 12 percent are ready to move if they find work abroad.
The majority of respondents, 41 percent, however said that they will not be leaving the emirate.
Meanwhile, Ghobash has said that the labor ministry is taking steps to reduce the impact of the crisis in the short term.
He said they are encouraging flexibility in the job market, protecting sectors of the workforce that are more prone to redundancies by “ensuring that their salaries and end-of-service benefits are fully paid,” and that they providing training for unemployed UAE citizens.
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