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The Foreign Workforce Threats on the UAE Essay

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Updated: Jul 29th, 2019


UAE is a country that has been developing at a fast rate over the last few years thanks to incredible oil and gas reserves. One of the most significant aspects that should be considered is the number of expatriates. The concentration of foreign workers is the highest in this country (Suter 4). Malit and Youha state that “the UAE attracts both low and high-skilled migrants due to its economic attractiveness, relative political stability, and modern infrastructure” (par. 2).

In other words, many individuals view it as a best possible option when considering the immigration. Statistics indicate that non-national population was steadily increasing from 2006 to 2008 from close to four million individuals to more than seven million and has been stable ever since (Hamza 85). The dissimilarity between the numbers of native citizens and expatriates may be viewed as an issue because it leads to numerous threats.

Current Threats

Social Threats

It should be said that foreign workers often do not understand the conservative views of the population (Crabtree 585). Their behavior and ethical norms are dramatically different from those of native citizens, and it may be considered a vital threat to the culture (Alzaabi 36).

The influence of foreigners may increase over the time, and it would have an enormous impact on traditions in the UAE. The primary religion in this country is Islam, and religious views of expatriates are often quite different and it leads to disagreements. The fact that immigrants may have a tremendous ability to control the political situation should also not be disregarded.

Also, one of the major issues is that the number of foreigners grows disproportionally, and it may cause issues with national identity (Awad 45). There is also a tremendous disparity between the numbers of male and female immigrants. It is caused by the fact that foreign workers prefer jobs that require physical strength mostly.

Economic Threats

It is imperative to discuss the threat to the economy. A research shows that the overall productivity of workforce in the UAE was steadily reducing in 2008 compared to 2007 (Awad 38). It may be caused by numerous factors such as changes in wages and others. For example, the productivity in the construction sector is lower by 23,6% and lower by 23,5% in real estate sector (Awad 38).

The first percentage is especially worrying because it is an essential industry for the countries that are still actively developing. The difference between the unskilled and skilled workers is dramatic, and it was 79,2% and 20,8% respectively in 2010 (Awad 23). The numbers are worrying, but it needs to be said that the situation has been getting better over the years, and the need for qualified employees has been increasing.


Inflations should also be discussed because they have often been quite problematic for the UAE. It is imperative to state that numerous factors may lead to such situations. The issue is that dramatic changes in exchange rates may be seen beneficial for some expatriates, the increases in prices are very common, and it may be hard to afford rent for some individuals.

It is necessary to address the fact that the housing market is affected by inflation the most compared to others, and the price of rent has increased by 10% in 2015 (Bouyamourn par. 5). It is important to understand that the economy of the UAE may become very unstable if any issues that would affect low-skilled and low-income workers are present because it is extremely dependent on them (Awad 44).

The behavior of expatriates during such periods is dramatically different than the one that is demonstrated by natives. However, it is necessary to note that such labor has helped the county to keep inflation levels at a relatively low level. Nevertheless, it has not been stable because the increase in the number of foreign labor has led to a decrease in the overall productivity of the workforce in the UAE, and it is known to be one of the primary causes of inflation.

National Security Threats

It is necessary to understand that such huge differences between the numbers of natives and non-natives may lead to severe problems in case there is a military conflict (Alzaabi 35). Also, it is likely that there are numerous terrorist groups on the territory of the UAE that are looking for an opportunity to strike (Alzaabi 35). The stability may be in danger because there are no technologies that can be used to prevent terrorist attacks.

One of the most dangerous factors that should be considered is that illegal immigration opens pathways for drug trafficking (Lori 320). This is a threat to any country because it is known that it can damage the economy. Health and well-being of the citizens are also in danger, because of the consequences of substance abuse and possible conflicts that may occur. The possibility of drug wars should not be disregarded, and necessary measures should be taken to prevent such activities.

Human Rights Focus

It is necessary to note that many foreigners live in appalling conditions, and it causes problems with health most of the time (Hamza 92). The disease may quickly spread in case some of them are infected because most do not receive a vaccination, and the treatment is often delayed because of the current health care system. It is also paramount to note that foreign workers stage protests sometimes, and they are exceedingly rare in UAE, and they are against the law (Hamza 109).

Citizens are not used to such behavior and often express their negative opinions. It is unbelievable that some of the foreign workers were deported because of this. Individuals that suffer from being not paid and hard workplace environment may become very dangerous and attempt illegal actions because of the unstable emotional state. It is important to note that native citizens view foreign labor as a treat, and it often leads to conflicts and tension.

Both understand that they are treated differently by the government, and it is an immense issue. Riots may often result in damage to property, and many natives could also be injured. The treatment of foreign workers leads to conflicts and tension with governments of other countries. They demand that their rights of expatriates should be addressed (Alzaabi 37).

National Unemployment

One of the biggest issues is that many companies prefer foreign employees because they are satisfied with much lower wages (Hamza 85). The way that the current government deals with this problem can be described as ineffective, and leads to another issue. Alzaabi states that “the rise in UAE unemployment has many dangerous effects on the society and on the national economy because unemployed individuals are a burden on their families and on the community” (46).

Differently put, their contribution to the economy of the country is limited. However, it should be said that it is not only the fault of immigrants. Many individuals strive to get the education that would allow them to receive great wages, but the fact that such vacancies are limited is not considered (Alzaabi 46).

It is interesting that there is an opinion that the fact that so many natives cannot find a job may lead them to illegal activities (Lori 322). It certainly may be true because numerous young people in the UAE attempt crimes. The efforts of the government to address this problem have been not as successful as expected so far.


Remittance is also a serious issue that is caused by the fact that foreign workers have limited opportunities to spend the money that they have earned. Statistics signify that the remittance in 2014 has been 29,25bn dollars (John par. 3). It can be said that expatriates have a significant contribution because the biggest amounts of money were sent to India (John par. 2).

It is also interesting that UAE is one of the leading countries when it comes to remittance, and it limits the development. However, it should be said that global economics benefits from this situation. One of the biggest issues is that outflows far exceed inflows.


There are numerous ways in which current issues can be solved. First of all, current policies should be addressed. Suter states that “the lowered costs of migration increase the attractiveness of migration as a means to diversify risk” (12). This means that the current system is viewed as extremely beneficial for immigrants because the whole process is not that complicated. Necessary measures should be taken, and policies should be much stricter.

The qualification of workers should be taken into consideration during the review of documents. One of the biggest issues that should not be disregarded is illegal migrants because there have been numerous cases when some of them do not leave when they have to according to their contracts.

For example, 173 individuals were apprehended in Abu Dhabi over a short period of few days in 2011 (Lori 329). It is interesting, how many would be arrested if such operations were performed daily. The government needs to develop a better system to identify illegal immigrants. Also, it is necessary to improve the treatment of the foreign workforce because it causes numerous conflicts and disagreements. The issues with national safety should also be addressed because the well-being of citizens is paramount.


In conclusion, the foreign workforce may undoubtedly be viewed as a threat t UAE. This situation is caused by numerous factors that should be addressed because the safety and well-being of both the natives and immigrants should not be in danger. It is important to develop a broad range of policies that would help to solve current issues.

The most paramount issue is segregation because it is not an effective method of fighting with threats that are caused by foreign workers. Overall, the current government tries to solve most paramount problems, but it is not easy, and numerous barriers that prevent the introduction of new laws are currently present.

Works Cited

Alzaabi, Ahmed. “The Risks that Foreign Labor Poses to UAE National Security.” MS thesis. Zayed Military College, 2012. Print.

Awad, Mouawiya A. “The Cost of Foreign Labor in the United Arab Emirates.” Working Paper 2010. Jul. 2010. Institute for Social & Economic Research. Web.

Bouyamourn, Adam. . 18 Aug. 2015. Web.

Crabtree, Sara A. “Culture, Gender and the Influence of Social Change amongst Emirati Families in the United Arab Emirates”. Journal of Comparative Family Studies 38.4 (2007): 575-587. Print.

Hamza, Sara. “Migrant Labor in the Arabian Gulf: A Case Study of Dubai, UAE.” Pursuit – The Journal of Undergraduate Research at the University of Tennessee 6.1 (2015): 81-114. Print.

John, Issac. “Half of Remittances From UAE Go to India”. Khaleej Times. Khaleej Times, 13 Aug. 2015. Web.

Lori, Noora. “National Security and the Management of Migrant Labor: A Case Study of the United Arab Emirates.” Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 20.3-4 (2011): 315-337. Print.

Malit, Froilan T., and Ali A. Youha. . 18 Sept. 2013. Web.

Suter, Brigitte. “Labour Migration in the United Arab Emirates: Field Study on Regular and Irregular Migration in Dubai.” MS thesis. Malmö University, 2005. Print.

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