Every year there is an influx of expatriates consisting of both skilled and unskilled workers entering Dubai to work or leaving Dubai after their working contracts ends. Dubai is a fast emerging global hotspot for travellers and expatriates. This is especially so as the economy has started to recover after having its economy affected by the economic downturn.
Dubai has recently won the bid to host the World Expo 2020 and an estimated number of 2.5 million visitors, consisting mostly of expatriates are expected to pass enter the country during the six month long expo. There is an anticipated surge in the real estate, hotel and infrastructure industries to support the arrival of the expo. During the next few years prior to the expo, thousands of new job opportunities will attract both skill and unskilled workers to Dubai as the country gears up to host this much anticipated event.
Dubai with its strategic location, is less than a four hour flight for almost half of the world’s population. It is also a convenient destination for expatriates from Asia, Europe, Australia and America. With the availability of various cheap flights from Dubai to London and other countries around the world, it is convenient for expatriates to travel back home to visit their families or for holidays in the neighbouring countries.
UAE nationals and those holding a UAE passport enjoy heavily subsidized property purchase schemes, highly discounted rates on food items and groceries, free education for their children, and much cheaper utilities than expatriates. They also enjoy a high standard of living compared to many expatriates who live and work there. Many expatriates are deterred from buying houses in Dubai, knowing that once they reach retirement age, they will have to leave even though they have worked and have invested in the economy and have contributed actively to the betterment of the country.
All these years, the government has resisted the pressure to open up citizenship to expatriates, fearing that it would dilute their Emirati culture and national identity. They do not want to put a huge strain on social welfare schemes that are primarily enjoyed by their local population, which makes up a small percentage of the total population of their country.