Immigrants as Majority – The Case of U.A.E.

by Akie Kuwano

In the age of globalization, it seems that the concept of nation state is not viable any more. Numbers of different ethnicities now exist in one state, although the amount of foreign-born population varies across the countries. While Japan maintains its foreign population low as 1.7%, U.A.E positions its opposite; according to the census in 2005, nearly 80% of their population is foreign-born. Immigrants are likely to seen as minorities in a country like Japan, however, that is not the case in U.A.E. This essay examines the reason why U.A.E. attracts so many immigrants and the problems they and hosting population face in new country in an aim to provide rather new insight to look at the issues concerning migration.

Firstly, people migrate to U.A.E in search of work. Most of them came from lower-class families of India, Philippines, and surrounding Middle East countries. Those countries suffer from growing population and lack of employment while U.A.E. seeks for the work force to bring forward its development accompanied with the rise of oil price since 1973.

Although its economy has long been supported by those immigrants, U.A.E. is not welcoming foreign labor force in recent years. Out of all the working population in U.A.E., only 9.5% is its own citizens. In other words, almost all the working population is consisted of the immigrants. In an attempt to modify this extraordinary gap, the government has passed the law which demands companies to preferentially employ U.A.E. citizens. The law has also placed Arab immigrants over Non-Arab immigrants, creating the hierarchy even within the immigrant population. Despite of these efforts, the unemployment rate of U.A.E. citizens hasn’t been improved. Because U.A.E. government scatters money earned by its oil export to their own citizens, almost all the citizens are wealthy enough to be highly educated and thus are selective about choosing their occupation.

Regarding these facts and figures listed above, it is important to reconsider the definition of nation and citizenship. Who it is that the national government is responsible of; the immigrants who are mass majority of the population or the citizens who are minority in number? Are citizens who are mostly unemployed still credible of endowments given based on their citizenship? Since Japan is now in need of opening its gate to the world of migration, considering these issues U.A.E. is facing might offer us greater insight of Japan’s future policy in migration.


Hoffman M. (2012). Only Immigrants Can Save Japan. The Japan Times. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from

鷹木恵子「U.A.E.の出稼ぎ外国人労働者にみる文化融合と文化摩擦 ―ドバイでのインタビュー調査から―」(『国際学レビュー』1号)

「No.985人口問題で不安を抱えるアラブ首長国連邦」中東TODAY [](最終検索日:2012年10月21日

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