UAE MythBusters #3: UAE’s population pie (only in AbuPhampi) – English

As most you already know, local population is a minority in UAE. That’s the easy part, however it has always intrigued me how the rest of the expat population is broken down by nationality. This is a very frequent question I hear from visitors and residents, however I’ve never been able to find a single official source on that, so that’s why I tried to give a rough answer to it in our classical UAE MythBusters format, trademark of Abu Phampi ;P

  • Are all guys not wearing the national dresses (white for men, black for women) foreigners? How many of them are Indians? British? Filipinos? Europeans…?

As mentioned before there is no official data on the time I wrote this original post in Spanish. In reality, I even doubt this details are easy to have at the right time, given the population growth pace and migration fluxes it is difficult to maintain an accurate census. Las published census date back some years ago and they are not relevant anymore in my opinion.

Today we are trying to re-build this Noah’s Ark we live in by putting together some data from newspapers, embassies and websites and have a very rough bottom-up view of the UAE’s population pie.

The above graph needs to be read like a squared pie, where the area is proportional to each nationality. A few observations are: i) We are not only in a country where nationals are a minority, but they were overtaken by Indian nationals only a few years ago; ii) Pakistanis and Filipinos are the next major communities; iii) After South-Asians, arabic countries represent the next category in volumes, unfortunately i didn’t manage to have numbers for Syrians and Egyptians which are also large communities here; iv) Finally Westerners, Africans and Latin Americans which are very difficult to track because they are small. We can affirm that major Western Europe countries have few thousands nationals living in UAE, except the UK which is hundred thousands of hem (Germany and France lead the rest of the European communities; Italians and Spanish are a minority with a very few thousands residing in the country)

Of course, if somebody is reading and have more inputs it would really be interesting to have comments or suggestions. This is a translation of an old exercise, and is a very rough “bottom-up” reconstruction, but gives some clarity for UAE beginners and curious readers.

Just in case somebody looks surprised by the above graph… I propose the readers to find a UAE national or a Westerner in the picture… This picture was taken on 2012 UAE National Day in Corniche, which is a public holiday for all workers

Let’s jump to an even less precise subject… (we cannot always be 90% rigorous if we want to address all the questions…)

  • OK fine, I got it but… What the h**l are al these people doing here?

The most politically correct answer to this questions would be “work”, or in other words “money”, we shouldn’t let ourselves be deceived…

  • Ah OK… so then, salaries must be high, aren’t they?

High, as a national average, for sure not.
Higher than what we all got in our previous countries/lives, most probably.
Very High… depending on every case, opportunity, negotiations, needs, or luck…

The above pretends to demonstrate how a big portion of the population lives with very low wages (i.e. 35% of the households have an income lower than 320 per month). For the ones who are not familiar with the country, I would like to emphasize on to aspects: i) wages are highly dependant on sectors and qualification levels; ii) in UAE in particular, many sectors are highly linked to nationalities and origins, this is not rare at all, as many countries have bought talent or labour force abroad to develop themselves, and always at the lowest possible cost. The point I want to reach is the following: Only certain qualified jobs will provide with enough benefits for an average Westerner (most of our readers) to justify moving his life so far away from home and make the move profitable.

I am convinced that many people eventually looking for information on the country are wondering what could be the salary range they could target. Unfortunately, anyone being able to give a number would probably be proven wrong because there is no minimum salaries by law here, and I would say there isn’t even a mid-class on which to benchmark. The only advise I can give is the following: try to estimate as well as possible the potential cost of life here, judge what is the price of living far from home and family and how much do you target to earn. After that, the equation is very simple ;P

I don’t really pretend to reveal any secret with this post, only explaining in a more factual way all this “legends on modern slavery” that always come to the table in many sensationalist TV shows and documentaries. This reminds me when North-Africans and Sub-Saharians used to come massively to my home country for the fruit season… at that time we found that wasn’t a respectable job for us locals… On the other hand, I don’t want to give pessimist expectations for the job seekers in the region, I truly believe this is a country full of golden opportunities! I really hope you enjoyed the chronicle, apologize for the quick translation from Spanish, and the very best luck to all the future expatriates!

Salu2, Abu.

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8 responses to “UAE MythBusters #3: UAE’s population pie (only in AbuPhampi) – English

    • Gracias por pasar Nacho, me alegro q te guste. Este es una traduccion al ingles de un post original en espanol, estoy traduciendo los posts mas consultados y de contenido mas “original” en los ratos libres… Un saludo.

    • gracias luis! y gracias por la informacion, la verdad es q mantener este grafico es casi imposible! por la velocidad en q las cosas cambian y por la incapacidad (o voluntad) de los paises en no publicar dichos numeros, especialmente espanyoles se comenta q hay almenos el doble de los registrados en la embajada, y subiendo

      en cuanto a venezolanos, te puedo decir que los muchachos del puestecito de arepas, empanadas y demas en mushrif mall de abu dhabi tienen una lista con bastantes mas que la embajada! por no mencionar que se encuentra mas harina pan en lulu supermarket que en venezuela, asi que esta seguro q tus compatriotas van en aumento!

      un saludo

  1. Estimados, soy nuevo en UAE, me pueden decir donde puedo conseguir Harina pan en Abu Dhabi? He buscado en dos lulu hypermarket y no consigo (al whada mall y gold centre). Gracias de antemano!!!

    • Haha hola juan, pues la verdad es que despues de la abundancia llego la escasez aqui tb! Actualmente no ya no hay en lis principales Lulu, y sin noticias de si volveran a traer!

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