UAE government seeks to address demographic imbalance


The strategy features developing a "comprehensive policy" that would remedy the imbalance in the population structure and reduce illegal and marginal labourers, said Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum, citing mainly the drive to Emiratise jobs.


Sheikh Mohammad, who is also ruler of the regional business and tourism hub of Dubai, was speaking in the presence of fellow rulers of the other emirates making up the seven-member UAE federation.


But he said that education, the lynchpin of efforts to replace expatriates by nationals in the workplace, had not given the desired outcome despite "huge spending" on that sector, and he urged professionals to pursue "radical" solutions.


Sheikh Mohammad said that while the UAE’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had jumped from 261 billion dirhams (71 billion dollars) in 2002 to 599 billion dirhams (163 billion dollars) in 2006, the greatest responsibility lies in graduating qualified nationals to compete for opportunities in the job market.


He said domestic helpers make up a massive 10 percent of foreign workers, with some families outnumbered by their servants.


There are also some 300,000 foreigners working illegally in the Gulf country and a large proportion of foreign workers involved in "marginal" activities, he said.


The UAE had a population of 4.1 million at the end of 2005, compared with 2.4 million 10 years earlier. Emiratis, numbering some 825,000, accounted for just 21.9 percent of the total population.


Sheikh Mohammad, whose country has been criticised by international human rights groups for the poor working conditions of foreign labourers, said his government planned to organise the labour market, set criteria for the labourers’ working and living conditions and increase checks to ensure that laws are implemented and the rights of all parties preserved.

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