Complex Made Simple

How is the UAE honouring its migrant population?

How is the UAE honouring its migrant population?

The UN Population Division defines an international migrant as someone who has been living in a country other than the one in which he or she was born for one year or longer.

A 2017 Pew Research Center shows that the three countries with the highest share of migrants are all in the Middle East.

An estimated 88 percent of UAE’s population was foreign-born in 2017, along with 75% in Kuwait and 6% in Qatar, according to Statista.

Here’s how the UAE put its statistics in words, literally.

Do you speak Hindi?

With more than 3 million Indians living in Dubai out of a total population of 10 million, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) recently acknowledged Hindi language as its third official language after Arabic and English.

It means that for legal matters, Indians have a language through which to push or prove their case.

There are currently around 8.5 million expatriates living in the UAE, according to Vrinda Gupta, managing partner of Vazir Group, a UAE-based migration services firm offering residency, passport and citizenship options for its clients.

The NewIndianExpress said External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj, took to her official Twitter account, as saying, “We thank Abu Dhabi for declaring Hindi as one of the official languages in their judicial system. This will make the justice delivery system simpler and more accessible to our people.”

“The landmark decision undertaken by the judicial department will benefit a major chunk of workers, who mostly come from Hindi speaking regions of central and north India,” Gulf News reported.

Pakistanis, over 1.2 million, are the second largest national group in the UAE after Indians, constituting 12.5% of the country's total population.

But not all is well with immigrants. 

Residence issues

The area which causes most of the legal issues concerns those who are in the country without a residence visa according to, a legal analysis site.

“They may have entered legally, and at a later stage, lost their jobs, or perhaps the renewal process was unsuccessful. In the end, there are numerous cases of illegals within the country,” the site said.

The UAE is aware of this issue, launching an amnesty program that began from 1 August allowing for current illegal residents in the country to come forward and leave without repercussions, or provide additional documentation such as proof of employment.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) last December issued a statement, giving amnesty seekers another 30 days until December 31, to avail of the scheme.

Fines worth AED millions were waived for thousands of people including families and children during the UAE’s five-month-long amnesty, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship said, implying that the 'Protect Yourself by Changing Your Status' amnesty saw a response rate of over 88%.

The newest development is that UAE employers hiring expat workers now have to meet requirements of the new 'job occupational classification scheme, reducing the number of job titles to 726 from 3000, according to Times of India.

White collar relief

Technology entrepreneurs, influencers, high-end individual investors and specialists in certain fields such as science, space and medicine would be eligible for a 10-year visa, local media reported.

The UAE government recently announced that it would issue 10-year visas for professionals and investors and will also allow 100% foreign ownership in mainland companies as part of reforms to attract the best talent available in the world and also to lure foreign direct investment into the country, said Khaleej Times.