The population imbalance

The one thing which the UAE authorities fear most is what they perceive as the erosion of their culture and religious values by the hordes of foreigners who have descended upon the country and who now constitute 75 percent of the population. The local populace has become dependent on foreign labour and it is common for most families to employ at least one domestic to attend to the household work and look after children.

The dependence on foreign labour has grown over the years and now the UAE is slowly beginning to realise that things are slipping out of control. Next year, the government plans to try and curb the influx of foreign workers; a pool of educated and skilled locals will be maintained by the authorities and every time an employer seeks new staff, the authorities will only grant permission for outsiders to be brought in if there is no local who can fill the position. How far this plan will work remains to be seen, as locals have been used to occupying well-paid government sinecures for years and are unlikely to accept the salaries which Asians would. They would also not agree to work the way Asians or other foreigners do.

There have been occasions in the past when there have been fears voiced about the imbalance in the population but nothing concrete has been done. The non-oil economy is driven largely by the expatriate population and thus Dubai in particular, which derives most of its income from trade, is reluctant to impose curbs as this would drive away likely investors.

Correcting this imbalance and bringing locals into the workforce in sufficient numbers will be a difficult process. It will take a very long time for a work culture to develop as the locals are used to an easy life and abhor the drudgery of a common job. It is extremely difficult for one to visualise a local coming round in the garbage collection van to empty the skips.

go to the previous page    go to the next page