Gallop Survey reveals the UAE is a Magnet for Migrants

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In focus: The UAE, for being the second most popular country after Saudi Arabia for individuals who seek to move to the Gulf.

The Story

The Abu Dhabi Gallup Centre released a report on Potential Migration and the GCC today. The statistics drawn were based on a survey with a global sample of nearly 350,000 people interviewed between 2007 and 2009. Out of the total sample, about 75,000 said that they would like to move to another country.

Characteristics of potential Migrants

The ?non-professionals?: ?41% of those who said they would move to the Emirates were educated to primary school level and only 6% had a degree or four years of education beyond secondary school.

Contrastingly, about 1 in 4 people who wanted to go to Australia had a college degree or four years of education beyond secondary school, 1 in 13 for the Unites States, 1 in 17 for the UAE and 1 in 50 for Saudi Arabia.

The ?professionals?: Between 15 to 17 % of those who said they said wanted to migrate to the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the US and Japan described themselves as “professional workers”. Australia and Switzerland attracted nearly twice as high a percentage.

Nearly 98% of those surveyed who hoped to move to the Emirates came from Asia, the Middle East and Africa. About two thirds of those who wanted to move here were between 15 and 29 years old, versus just under half for Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Australia and the US; 46 % came from Asia, 33 % from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, 19 % from sub-Saharan Africa, 2 % from Europe and less than 1% from the Americas.

Analyzing Data

From ?who wanted to move to Saudi Arabia, 53 % were from Asia, 23 % from the MENA , 24 % from sub-Saharan Africa and less than 1% each from Europe and the Americas.

Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Nigerians and Pakistanis made up 70 % of those who wanted to move to Saudi Arabia.?Some high-income nations outside the Gulf attracted a higher percentage of westerners.

For instance, out of those who said they wanted to move to Australia, 9% came from the Americas and 29 % from Europe.

Clearly, the different countries analyzed seemed to attract a different crowd.

Saudi versus Dubai: Ms Mogahed, director of the Gallup centre in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia may be more attractive to individuals, because of its lower cost of living and religious significance to Muslims. Additionally the Kingdom?s large number of migrant workers may mean that they already know people who live there.

Jhun Regala, a 46-year-old Filipino who has worked in Dubai since 2008 had in Saudi Arabia for 15 years before leaving because of visa problems. Dubai?s expenses have led him to have no savings left from his salary in the past 3 years. What may have topped his expenses was that his two children had joined him. ?The big difference is the cost of living. The cost of living here is very high,? he said. Because of the low rent rates, he was able to save up to Dh 2,450 a month in his previous country of residence.

The UAE: Regarding the large number of people from Asia and Africa who wanted to move to the UAE, Azfar Khan, a migration specialist at the International Labour Organization?s regional office in Beirut, said that the findings were not surprising, given most migrants to the UAE were low and semi-skilled workers from Asian countries. There is an ample amount of low-paying jobs that require young people.

Nearly half of those who said they wanted to migrate to the Emirates were made up of Indians, Egyptians and Pakistanis.


Keeping Appearances

Dalia Mogahed, the said governments needed to manage their country’s image to appeal to professional migrants. “Policymakers must pay attention to what kinds of people their country’s global image is attracting,” she said. “How do they manage the nation’s brand globally to attract the professionals they desire? That will be the key challenge.”

Sure, what the director says may be true, but this depends on who the UAE actually wants to attract. Every country needs different people to fill different positions that help the development of the country and to push it forward. Therefore every country is in need of people to do both work that is both professional and what is considered ?non-professional?, or skilled.

The Country?s Intentions

The UAE has greatly moved forward in the past decade, but a lot of areas are still under construction, or waiting to begin construction, and the country requires many skilled workers to do this job. If the country focuses on attracting only those from upper professions, and with exceptionally high qualifications.

Additionally, the UAE must be proud that it is able to attract people from various backgrounds. It gives hope to people who may not have been able to afford to study further in their countries. Perhaps it could improve its global image to attract individuals for all professions, from a wider range of countries.

Strangely, the statistics may also indicate the job market and standard of living of individuals from South Asia, MENA and other countries with high numbers of potential immigrants to the UAE are difficult or low.

What is more ironic is that, the treatment of labourers, in the UAE , in the work place and with regards to labour camps has been attacked by several human rights groups. ?On paper, things are actually quite developed from a labourer?s perspective but then what happens on the ground? the situation is quite different and quite drastic in some cases,? stated Samer Muscati, researcher at HRW, at the launch of the UAE section of the World Report 2011.

Then why is it attracting so many migrant workers with lower levels of education?

Effects on the Economy

Of course, the type of individuals a country attracts, and the jobs they occupy and the salary they earn, would effect the cost and standard of living in the country. The types of consumer good, their quality, quantity and price would greatly differ and this will effect how well the country?s economy does.

The image that the UAE chooses to portray and the kind of immigrants it attracts, depend on the plans and ideals of the government.

Sources: The National, Arabian Business, The Guardian

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