Oxford Economics estimates the UAE, of which Dubai is a part, could lose 900,000 jobs and see 10% of its residents move on due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dubai , Dubai
11 June 2020, 12:00 AM
30 June 2020, 12:00 AM
It’s a choice facing millions of expats across the Gulf as the fallout from the pandemic and a plunge in energy prices forces economic adjustments.
Gulf countries, for decades, depended on expats to make over sleepy villages into cosmopolitan cities. Many grew up or raised families here, but with no formal route to citizenship or permanent residency and no benefits to bridge the hard times, it’s an uncertain existence. The impact is starkest in Dubai, whose economic model is built on the presence of foreign residents who comprise about 90% of the population.
Oxford Economics estimates the UAE could lose 900,000 jobs — eye-watering for a country of 9.6 million — and see 10% of its residents uproot. Newspapers are filled with reports of Indian, Pakistani and Afghan blue-collar workers leaving on repatriation flights, but it’s the loss of higher earners that will have painful knock-on effects on an emirate geared toward continuous growth.
Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at Stratfor said, “An exodus of middle class residents could create a death spiral for the economy.” “Without government support, those services could then lay off people who would then leave the country and create more waves of exodus,” he added.
Meanwhile, said Ziad Daoud, Bloomberg Economics Chief Emerging Markets Economist said, “Dubai, like the rest of the Gulf, is reliant on foreign workers. Policy makers have been reluctant to stimulate the economy with direct spending, perhaps preferring to preserve their cash in exceptionally uncertain times. But this could lead to an exodus of expatriates that would prolong the virus-induced slowdown.’’
A Dubai government spokesperson said authorities were studying more help for the private sector: “Dubai is considered home to many individuals and will always strive to do the necessary to welcome them back.”