Expatriates in the United Arab Emirates
Most expatriates in the United Arab Emirates reside in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. A number of expatriates settled in the country prior to independence. The UAE is home to over 200 nationalities. Emiratis constitute roughly 20% of the total population, making UAE home to one of the world's highest percentage of immigrants. Indians and Pakistanis form the largest expatriate groups in the country, constituting 25% and 12% of the total population respectively.
The United Arab Emirates is the home of immigrants from all over the world; this may be because UAE nationals prefer to work for the government or military. The country's relatively liberal society compared to some of its neighbours has attracted many global expatriates, including people from western nations. Emiratis are outnumbered in their own country by a ratio of nine to one. Under Article 8 of UAE Federal Law no. 17, an expatriate can apply for UAE citizenship after residing in the country for a period not less than 30 years, of which 20 years at least after the said law comes into force, providing that person has never been convicted of a crime and can speak fluent Arabic.
Arab League populationsEdit
A small but unknown number of Bahrani people are present in the UAE. Bahrain is also a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); this membership enables Bahraini nationals to enter the UAE without restrictions.
Many members of the UAE's 10,000-strong stateless Bedoon community have obtained Comoro Islands passports, providing them a legal status and a pathway towards naturalised UAE citizenship. This move came following the Comorian legislature's decision to sell Comorian nationalities to stateless Bedoons in the Gulf countries, including UAE, in return for these Gulf countries' economic investment in Comoros. The number of such Bedoons with Comorian passports in the UAE is estimated to be at least a thousand.
Iraqis in the UAE have a population exceeding 100,000. Most Iraqis are recent immigrants who fled instability at home; while Syria, Jordan, Iran and Lebanon were ultimate destinations for most refugees, a large number settled in the United Arab Emirates. In addition, an increasing number of Iraqi students seeking education and career opportunities opted for the country in light of its relatively reputable institutions across the Middle East.
As of 2009, the Jordanian population was estimated at 250,000, an increase from 80,000 in 2003, making them one of the largest Jordanian diaspora communities both worldwide and in the Persian Gulf region. Jordanian labour is in high value and demand throughout the country. A large number of Jordanians are highly qualified and occupy jobs that require skill and training. Most work in white-collar jobs as professors, managers, bankers, doctors, and engineers. The UAE remains a popular tourist destination for many Jordanians.
A small community of Kuwaitis lives in the UAE. It includes around 1,000 Kuwaiti students studying at eight universities across the UAE. Kuwait is also a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); this membership enables Kuwaiti nationals to live and work in the UAE without restrictions.
An estimated 80,000 Lebanese live in the UAE, mostly in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah. The UAE remains a popular touring destination for many Lebanese. The majority of Lebanese expatriates who work in the UAE are educated, with some being fluent in both French and English languages. Many Lebanese are involved in business and the media as plastic surgeons, businessmen, artists, presenters, hairdressers, and news anchors.
Over 15,000 Lebanese companies operate in the Jebel Ali Free Zone alone, an economic hub located in Jebel Ali, a city in Dubai. Notable Lebanese nationals who have lived in UAE include the late Antoine Choueiri, the owner of the Middle East's largest media broker (Choueiri Group), which controls Arabian Media Services International, MEMS, Arabian Outdoor, Times International, Audio Visual Media, C Media, Press Media, Digital Media Services, Interadio, Promofair, AMC and SECOMM; and Elias Bou Saab, the founder of the American University in Dubai (AUD).
An estimated 2,000 Libyans live in the UAE, forming one of the smaller non-citizen Arab communities. Many Libyans who have lived in exile in UAE for decades returned to Libya after the fall of the former Libyan regime.
An estimated 100,000 Moroccans live in the UAE. They form one of the biggest communities from North Africa of non-citizens from the Arab world in the UAE.
Omanis consist of expatriates and residents in the United Arab Emirates who hail from Oman. Being a bordering country and sharing cultural links, thousands of Omanis live in the U.A.E. They are predominantly Arabs and belong to the Muslim Ibadi sect.
Omanis make a large percentage of the UAE's officer corps and also dominate the police forces. Many are originally students pursuing higher education in various institutions across the country. In 2003, their number was estimated at over 9,000. According to the Times of Oman, the United Arab Emirates is the most popular destination for Omani students who choose to study abroad; its close location and sharing of the language and culture makes them more comfortable at places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and the border town of Al Ain.
Both countries have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at providing benefits to Omani nationals and citizens in the UAE as well as treating Omani labour and work force at par with the country's nationals. Being a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) (like the UAE) enables Omani nationals to move and work freely within the country and enjoy contrasting residential benefits as compared to expatriates in the UAE from non-GCC states.
An estimated 100,000 Palestinians live in the UAE and form one of the largest community of non-citizens from the Arab world in the UAE.
Some Qatari citizens are based in the UAE. Qatar was a member of the GCC and thus citizens of both countries were free to live and work in each other's countries without restrictions. The 2017–18 Qatar diplomatic crisis began when several countries abruptly cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June 2017. These countries included Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt. The severing of relations included withdrawing ambassadors and imposing trade and travel bans. Also, Qatari citizens who have family members from the UAE will not be affected.
A total of 4,895 Saudis were living in the UAE in 2007; this number grew when a further 700 entered at the start of 2008.
They are mostly found working in the sectors of commerce and industry as well as medicine, law, insurance and shipping. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are Arab states and part of the Gulf Cooperation Council; according to agreements, the citizens of each GCC member can live and work in any of the six countries without visa and other restrictions. The Saudis own a total of 1,357 houses and 1,450 pieces of land in various emirates in the UAE.
Around 50,000 Somalis live in the United Arab Emirates. The Somali Business Council based in Dubai regulates 175 Somali companies. Somali-owned businesses line the streets of Deira, the Dubai city centre, with only Iranians exporting more products from the city at large. Internet cafés, hotels, coffee shops, restaurants and import-export businesses are all testimony to the Somalis' entrepreneurial spirit. Star African Air is also one of three Somali-owned airlines based in Dubai.
A large number of Syrians live in the UAE. Many of them whom have been in the country since its prosperity, even before 1971. Syrians, similarly to the Lebanese, are educated and highly respected. Many Syrians have opened restaurants, opened businesses, and many of them work in both the public and procate sectors. Most Syrians reside in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. Their population is over 242,000.
A small but unknown number of Tunisians live in the UAE. There is a Tunisian Business Council based in Abu Dhabi. There is also a web radio operated by the Tunisian community, known as 3ASLEMA Dubai.
Over 98,000 Yemeni expatriates lives in the UAE.
There were 3,000 to 4,000 Eritreans in the UAE as of 2010. 60% of them were women working as baby-sitters.
A community of over 300 Ghanaian expatriates live in the country. They have two main associations, the Ghana Community in Dubai and the Ghana Social Club in Abu Dhabi. Ghana has a consulate-general in Dubai serving the community.
Kenyans in the United Arab Emirates had an estimated population numbering 36,000 in 2010. Of these, many work in Dubai in the hospitality and construction industries.
A South Sudanese community is present in the UAE. They are mainly Christians. They were treated as part of the Sudanese community; however, after South Sudan achieved independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudanese expatriates living in the UAE were required to apply for new South Sudanese passports. The UAE airline flydubai operates several flights a week from Dubai to Juba.
A number of Zimbabweans live in Dubai, although their population is unknown. They are mainly employed in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
Central Asian populationsEdit
East Asian populationsEdit
Almost 4,000 Japanese live in the UAE. Over 2,000 of them reside in Dubai, making the city home to the largest Japanese community in the whole of the Arab world. Japan also maintains a sizeable trade presence in the UAE through representative offices of multinational corporations and organisations; as of 2007, there were an estimated 105 Japanese companies operating in the Jebel Ali Free Zone alone.
According to registrations based with local embassies and consulates, the community has been growing at an average of 20 percent per year, much larger than the population during the 1980s when only a few hundred Japanese expatriates lived in the country. The Japanese have introduced judo in the country. Most immigrants are principally skilled workers employed in white-collar business and industry sectors. Dubai has one Japanese association and there is also a Dubai Japanese School, which is based on Japanese curriculum. The Japanese School in Abu Dhabi also serves Japanese expatriates.
Approximately 3,100 Koreans live in the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates received a small contingent of Korean migrant workers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but it was never a major destination. However, due to rapid growth since 2005, the country has come to have the Arab world's largest Korean population. As of 2008[update], roughly 2,500 South Koreans live in Dubai alone, largely businessmen working at the 90 Korean companies in the country. There were also many flight attendants working for Emirates Airlines; the number of Koreans working for Emirates Airlines increased from 15 in 1998 to 620 as of 2007, mostly based out of Dubai. Dubai has the UAE's largest community of South Koreans. However, a consulate was not opened in Dubai until March 2008.
Roughly 1,300 North Korean workers live in the UAE, primarily in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They earn between US$300 and $500 per month, but must make so-called "loyalty payments" of $150 to $250 to the North Korean government. This has sparked discontent among those workers—and in response, the North Korean government has sent security agents to patrol North Korean work camps and look for people making critical comments.
Won Ho Chung is a famous Arabic language comedian of Korean origin who is based in Dubai. In 2010, Chung was appointed goodwill ambassador for the Korea Tourism Organization in the Middle East.
South Asian populationsEdit
Expatriate Afghan businessmen, traders, and entrepreneurs formed an Afghan Business Council of Dubai in 2005. The organisation strives to develop economic, cultural, and social relations between Afghanistan and the UAE, and to promote the interests of the Dubai Afghan business community.
The Afghan community in the UAE forms the second largest diaspora of Afghans after the United States.
Over 500,000 Bangladeshis live in the UAE. Expatriates from Bangladesh in the United Arab Emirates form one of the largest communities along with others hailing from the Indian subcontinent. They are spread out over the various emirates of the country, with many based in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. A sizeable number of the South Asian labour force in the UAE is from Bangladesh. In the fiscal year 2005-2006, remittances from Bangladeshis were marked up to US$512.6M.
A number of Bangladeshi-curriculum schools operate in the UAE, including the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School in Abu Dhabi.
Most Bhutanese nationals in the UAE are labour force and service industry workers. Employ Bhutan Overseas is a Bhutanese government-authorized employment agency that sends Bhutanese workers to the UAE.
Nepalese in the United Arab Emirates are a large community numbering around 125,258; of these, 75,000 are in Dubai, some 30,000 in Abu Dhabi remaining are spread out over the northern emirates. As per IOM Report of 2012-14, most of Nepalese migrant workers in UAE number up to 97,874. Out of the population, half are labour migrants in the construction sector, while others work in hospitality and security services (as security guards). Nepalese security guards are popular in the UAE for their trustworthiness. There are also some skilled professionals.
As part of curbing illegal migration, the UAE made new amendments to visit visa regulations in 2008. According to experts, the changes were likely to affect Nepalese the most, along with Indians and Pakistanis.
Sri Lankans in the United Arab Emirates have grown to a population of over 300,000; they mostly form the country's large foreign labour force. In 2009, community members were urged to register themselves. A lack of community data has often resulted in difficulties in reaching out to the community at the time of major announcements, rules and regulation. Most expatriates from Sri Lanka, along with other immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, tend to be found in Dubai, although sizeable communities are existent in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Al-Ain and Ras al-Khaimah.
There is a huge demand for Sri Lankan Quantity Surveyors, Commercial Managers and Contract Administrators in ever expanding UAE construction industry. They are usually highly paid due to the high demand for their quality of professionalism. Not only them, there are lots of Sri Lankans well off in UAE banking and hotel/tourism industries.
Southeast Asian populationsEdit
Around 62,500 Laotians living and working in the United Arab Emirates.
There were 6,000 Malaysians living and working in the United Arab Emirates as of 2010. Most are found in Dubai and can be seen working with foreign and local companies. In addition, a small number of Malaysian pilots work for the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways.
There is a small community of Singaporeans in the UAE numbering around 2,100, the largest Singaporean community in the Middle East. The community includes Singaporean Malays, Chinese Singaporeans and Indian Singaporeans. Dubai has three Singaporean expatriate clubs: the Singapore Business Council (SBC), Singapore Malay-Muslim Group (SMG) and the Singapore Women's Group (SWG). Many Singaporeans visit the UAE for tourism or transit through its airports.
Thais in the United Arab Emirates are based predominantly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Smaller populations also live in the northern emirates. A significant number of Thais work in the construction sector. In 2006, there were some 3,500 Thai workers in Dubai alone. This figure jumped to 6,500 in 2007 and recent numbers are predicted to be as high as 8,000. The UAE and Thailand have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at protecting the rights of Thai workers living and working in the UAE.
More than 5,000 Vietnamese nationals and people of Vietnamese descent live in the UAE.
Americans in the United Arab Emirates form one of the largest Western expatriate communities in the UAE. Over 50,000 United States nationals reside in the UAE. The bulk of these live in Dubai while sizable populations are also found in Abu Dhabi. According to statistics produced in 1999, there were 7,500 United States citizens in Abu Dhabi and as many as 9,000 United States citizens in Dubai.
Argentines in the United Arab Emirates are 2,000 and form the third largest community of Argentines in the Middle East (after Lebanon and Israel) and are mainly expatriates (bankers, pilots, stewards and technicians working with the two main airlines in the country) and professional footballers playing in the UAE Football League. Even the legendary Argentine player Diego Maradona was an expat for a while in UAE.
Azerbaijanis in United Arab Emirates number around 12,000. This figure however, only includes Azerbaijani nationals and not ethnic Azerbaijanis from Iran, otherwise the figure would be much higher. The Azerbaijanis mostly live in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Armenians in United Arab Emirates number around 3,000.
Australians in the United Arab Emirates consist of 7,000 expatriates, half of whom live in the capital of Abu Dhabi (3,500) and the other half of whom live in Dubai.
Australians have been attracted by the lifestyle Dubai offers, including the wealth of outdoor activities for their families. However, their population fell in 2009 due to the downturn in the economy of Dubai, as retrenched Australian expatriates with underwater real-estate loans fled the country to avoid debtor's prison.
In Dubai, Australian and New Zealander expatriates joined together to set up the Australia New Zealand Association, which aims to provide mutual support for their communities in the entire UAE.
The Australian International School in Sharjah is an established international school, catering to much of the Australian community. The school's education system and syllabus is Queensland-curriculum based.
The UAE is home to 1,800 Austrians, and 36 Austrian companies operate directly in the UAE.
3,000 Belgians reside in the UAE.
A community of Bosnian expatriates lives in the UAE, numbering from 1,000 to 2,000. In 2014, the Bosnian community of Dubai provided humanitarian aid to affectees of floods in Bosnia and also in Serbia.
Brazilians in the United Arab Emirates are the third largest community of Brazilians in the Middle East (after Israel and Lebanon) and are mainly expatriates and professional footballers. In 2002, up to 235 Brazilians were reported living in the country (Abu Dhabi and Dubai). These figures increased ten-fold, with data disclosed by the embassy of Brazil in Abu Dhabi putting the number as high as 2,000 by 2010. Most immigrants are pilots, stewards and technicians working with the two main airlines in the country, Emirates and Etihad. The Emirates airline alone has over 100 Brazilian pilots and 600 stewards. Brazil also has a large business presence in the UAE, with representative offices for several construction companies, exporters and banks. Footballers from Brazil top the list of foreigners playing in the UAE Football League. The UAE remains a popular touring destination for many Brazilians and airlines provide links between both countries.
British presence in the country dates back to the 19th century, when the region was a protectorate. In 2012, there were an estimated 240,000 Britons living in the country, representing the largest western community in the United Arab Emirates and are made up primarily of English and Scottish expatriates. Prior to 2008, there were 120,000 expatriates holding British passports in the UAE. However, after the 2008 UK recession another 120,000 British nationals emigrated to the UAE to find work. This doubled their numbers to 240,000 within a period of just four years. Most Britons took their entire families with them. Main localities where British citizens are based include Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. A number of Britons working in the UAE are high-salary white-collar job professionals. Probationary work permits are valid for up to three months for Britons. In the 2010 UK general elections, following a drop in sterling, UAE-based British expats were seen taking advantage by sending increased funds back home to the UK, with the number of dirham trades flowing back to the UK rising by over 40 percent in two days.
The Caribbean community in UAE numbers around 2,000 as of 2014, which is an increase since 2006 when it barely numbered 100. The majority of them are Jamaicans, and a few dozen Jamaican pilots are presently working for the Emirates airline.
Over 14,000 Colombians live in the United Arab Emirates, primarily in Dubai. Is one of the biggest growing communities in the country, and is the second Latin American community after Brazilians. They work in the tourism sector in Dubai, as footballers.
Over 500 Croatians are currently living in the UAE, primarily in Dubai. The community is growing. Migration occurred in two waves, with the first wave taking place 15 years ago and the latest and larger wave comprising recent migrants. Croatians can be found working as cooks, stewards, waiters and in white-collar positions.
A small Cuban community is present in Dubai. The population has increased over the years. Cuban cigars are popular in the UAE. Cuban food and salsa clubs are available in the UAE.
As of 2010, their number was around 2,000, up from just 400 since 2005. The Danish community of Dubai has founded a cultural organisation known as Danes in Dubai, which aims at fostering relations between Denmark and the UAE.
Currently there is a growing population of Dutch nationals. As of 2011 members of the community number at 4,500.
A small Fijian community numbering in the hundreds exists in the UAE, based in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and other places. They include both native Fijians and Indo-Fijians. New job opportunities have prompted some Fijians to migrate to the UAE. Most Fijians in the UAE can be found working in retail, tourism and hospitality, as nurses, pilots, seafarers teachers, hotel workers, sportspeople and in other jobs. The Fijian community in Abu Dhabi convenes celebrations for Fiji Day.
Finns in the United Arab Emirates form a community of 1,500.
Over 10,000 French people live in the UAE. The French maintain numerous community organisations, schools, restaurants, and academies throughout the country. According to various statistics, the French population of UAE has been growing at a rate of 5% a year. France also has an industrial presence with close to 300 French enterprises and businesses. Roughly half of these are in Dubai.
Germans in the United Arab Emirates number 10,000, found across major cities of the country.
The UAE has three German schools:
Over 5,000 Greeks live in the UAE, mostly in Dubai. They are predominantly professionals in white-collar industry, serving in various positions such as executives and businessmen. Many of them have been living in the country for more than 20 years, while every year an increasing number of newcomers are setting up in the UAE. In addition, more than 120 Greek companies of different sectors currently operate in the country.
The Greek community is organised through social circles. There are two (informal) Greek schools, whose teachers are posted and managed by the Greek Ministry of Education.
The Greek Orthodox Church of the UAE is under the jurisdiction of the Antioch Patriarchate; the current bishop is the Metropolitan of Bagdad and Kuwait Constantine. There is a Greek Orthodox Church of St Nikolaos in Abu Dhabi. Prior to its construction, there existed no Greek church in the UAE and the community had to use other churches for their services.
Iranians in the UAE number 400,000 to half a million.
The United Arab Emirates does not recognise Israel due to the Palestinian conflict, and therefore Israeli passport-holders cannot legally enter the UAE. Restrictions were tightened against the entry of Israeli citizens following the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai, which was blamed on Israeli intelligence. However, there are Jewish expatriates in the UAE, and Israelis with dual citizenship who live, visit, and work in the UAE as citizens of other countries. Some Israeli companies conduct business in the UAE indirectly through third parties.
Approximately 3,000 Mexican citizens live and work in the UAE.
A relatively large population of Moldovans live in the UAE, especially in Sharjah. Abu Dhabi and Dubai have a joint population of around 22,000 Moldovans.
Macedonians are the sixth-largest Yugoslav and ex-Yugoslav (Balcanic) population in the UAE and in the whole Arab World.
The Montenegrins are the seventh-largest Yugoslav and ex-Yugoslav (Balcanic) population in the UAE and in the whole Arab World.
New Zealanders in the UAE number around 4,000, the overwhelming majority of whom are based in Dubai. A number of entrepreneurs from New Zealand are attracted towards the work and business opportunities offered in the UAE. In 2007, more than 700 New Zealanders moved to the UAE permanently or for long term.
The New Zealand community is involved in numerous cultural events, get-togethers and organisations. In Dubai, expatriate New Zealanders joined Australians to form the Australia New Zealand Association, which aims to provide support to society members and expatriates over the entire country.
The Nicaraguan community in the UAE is rather small. As of 2017 less than 5 expatriates live in the UAE, the majority of them in Dubai.
1,500-2,000 Norwegians live in the UAE.
2,000 Poles live in UAE, the largest Polish population in the Arab World.
A sizable Russians community lives in the UAE—typically having moved to the country for job opportunities and the year-round sunny weather. According to Consul General of The Russian Federation, as many as 10,000 Russian expatriates and overall above 55,000 Russian speakers from CIS (former Soviet Republics) countries live throughout the country, with the majority having made Dubai and Northern Emirates their home. The UAE is also a popular visiting destination, with above 2,000,000 tourists from Russia & CIS visiting the country each year. A number of business and cultural groups operate within the community, such as Russian Business Council in Dubai and Northern Emirates, which is under the umbrella of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Russian Cultural Club in the American University of Sharjah; Russian Women Union Rossiyanka, to name a few. The Dubai Russian Private School is a secondary school that uses a curriculum approved by the Russian Ministry of Education and caters to the Russian speaking community needs. After-school activities and extra curricular classes are also available, e.g., dance lessons for adults and children at "Dance For You" studio. A number of Russian-language publications operate in the country: Russian Emirates magazine (dedicated to the luxury lifestyle and fashion), Business Emirates magazine (dedicate to the property, business and investments; the official publication of the Russian Business Council), as well as East Sprigs UAE Travel Guide book for Russian speaking tourists and visitors of the UAE, printed & published by the Russian Emirates Publishing House and actively promoted and circulated. There is a "Russian Radio – Auto Radio U.A.E" broadcasting on 103.2 FM all over the UAE. Dubai has often been described as a playground for Russian VIPs, where large portions of property are bought. Some locals insist that as much as half of the Palm Jumeirah, the first of the city's scheduled three man-made islands, which is already handed over, will eventually be owned by Russian speakers.
A very few number of Samoans are present in the UAE. Most Samoans actively play rugby. New Zealand-born Samoan rugby player Apollo Perelini has been based in the UAE for a couple of years, where he coaches at the Elite Sporting Academy in Repton School Dubai.
5,000 Serbs live in UAE.
Swedes in the United Arab Emirates number at over 3,000.
2,580 people living in the UAE have Venezuelan roots. Many Venezuelans work in the oil businesses, due to UAE–Venezuela relations (OPEC).
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