Who Are They: Population and Сitizens of the UAE

11:29 pm  |  13.08.2023

In this article, we will talk about people who live and work in the United Arab Emirates. About those with whom you will definitely have to talk on vacation because it is they who stand behind the reception desk in hotels, go to tourist buses and taxis, and conduct tours.

Let’s Define Concepts

Before talking in detail about the population of the United Arab Emirates, we need to decide what we mean by the word “population”? Will we only mean citizens of the country, or will we also take into account visiting workers?

When official sources publish statistics, all people are taken into account: citizens, workers on work visas, and citizens of other countries who are on permanent residence.

How Many People Live in the UAE in 2023?

The last official census took place back in 2005. The population in the UAE is growing very fast due to the new labor force from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other countries.

Then in 2005, they counted 4.1 million people. After the census, the UN made a forecast for 2010 – 7.2 million. At the beginning of 2020, a rough estimate is 9.89 million. We want to note that these and subsequent figures are only rough estimates and not official statistics.

But no one knows how the population changed from 2020 to 2021. The UAE witnessed a fascinating phenomenon during and after the first coronavirus outbreak in March-April 2020 – the exodus of visitors. 

Many flew away for quite objective reasons – back to their families. Some flew away in the firm belief that the Arab Emirates would soon come to an end. Such rumors were just actively circulating at that time. Mass psychosis was then observed in all countries of the world.

During the outbreak of the Delta strain in mid-2021, a similar phenomenon was observed, but on a much smaller scale. Nothing similar was observed during the ‘omicron’ outbreak in early 2022.

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How did all this affect the composition of the population? It’s hard to say now. So far, there is no official data from the authorities, and it is unlikely that these data will appear in the near future. According to official figures, the head of the Indian Foreign Ministry, Velamvelli Muralidharan, announced in January 2021 that 1.3 million people and only 1.15 million people had left the UAE for India since May. From these figures, we can conclude that the population of the UAE in 2021 decreased at least due to the Indians.

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Reliable figures for the entire population are not yet available. Therefore, for now, we will use the figure for the end of 2019 – 9.89 million. There is also an estimated World Bank figure for 2021 – 9.991 million. As you can see, the numbers are almost the same. Of course, you can find many other numbers on the Internet, but they are all calculated and conjectural. There are no official statistics, and everyone predicts their numbers.

Ethnic Сomposition

Most of all, Indians live in the country – from 2.5 to 3 million people, in second place are Pakistanis – from 1.2 to 1.5 million.

An interesting fact is that ethnic Arabs and citizens of the UAE – are not the largest ethnic group in the country.

Citizens are only in third place – 1,034,568 people (the exact number is only available for 2018). In 2023, the number of citizens increased – 1.15 million. Attentive readers have noticed that the number of citizens is calculated with an accuracy of one person, and the data on visitors is approximate. Indeed, citizens in the UAE are under strict control, and no one counts visitors.

Do not be surprised when you do not see an Arab at the hotel reception, citizens do not work in such small positions. Citizens work in the field of government – in banks, police, customs, and other government agencies.

In fourth place in terms of numbers are visitors from Bangladesh – from 700 thousand to 1 million, then Filipinos – 500-700 thousand, Iranians and Egyptians – 400-500 thousand, Nepalese and Sri Lankans – 400-500 thousand.

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About 50,000 Russians and natives of the former Soviet republics live in the UAE. Or rather, 50 thousand lived, and after February 2023 there were about 130,000.

Newcomers, in most cases, are engaged in low-paid work. Exceptions are invited by managers and employees from Europe. Such a motley ethnic composition makes the demographic statistics in the UAE very interesting.

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