UAE summit attempts to clarify demographic imbalance

UAE summit attempts to clarify demographic imbalance

UAE summit attempts to clarify demographic imbalance

A UAE debate is attempting to find a solution to the emirate’s uncertain future.

Earlier this week, government officials and academics attended a security summit aimed at agreeing on strategies to prepare for the immediate future. Experts praised the country’s progress as a result of welcoming expats from across the world, but also aired their concerns over its reliance on a transient population. Think tank chairman Dr Salem Humaid said the demographic issue has existed for some centuries and can’t be dealt with over just a few years.

At the present time, the UAE is home to the fifth largest expat worker population on the planet, with 40 per cent of the total arriving from India and emiratis making up just 12 per cent of the total population. Reverse migration such as occurred during the 2008 financial crisis is seen as a major threat to the UAE’s economy, as it would result in the closure of many companies mostly staffed by immigrants.

Concern was also shown over the high number of private companies owned by expat professionals and employing foreign labour, with Dr Humaid urging the training of UAE citizens in the skills needed to take over such businesses and run them successfully. Humaid also predicted that, in the future, many jobs now taken by low-skilled foreign labour could be done using artificial intelligence.

The demographic issue, he said, is being compounded by the fact that the birth rate in the UAE is still falling, suggesting government intervention by means of financial incentives to conceive. He added emiratis should make more efforts to encourage expatriates to blend in with the community and its culture.

Other speakers at the summit noted the expat workforce could be seen as a source of economic strength rather than a sign of weakness, thus bringing all workers together in a concerted effort to achieve the best outcome for stability and growth in the emirates.

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