Alexander McNabb

A Surprising Figure: The Value of Expats to the UAE

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First things first: I’m not complaining. We’ve lived here a long time because we like it here. I won’t bore you with all our ‘reasons to be cheerful’ but suffice to say they are legion.

But there’s a report in today’s Gulf News, which talks about how 60% of young Emiratis surveyed are apprehensive but not frightened of the UAE’s overwhelmingly expat demographic – 85% of the overall population here is expat – it’s higher in Dubai, which is 90% expat.

That’s nothing new. The UAE population has been numerically dominated by its expat workforce since the year dot.

Buried deep in GN’s long analysis of why this is really good news for everyone is an interesting figure, though. According to a certain Dr. N. Janardhan, the average expat makes a contribution to the state of Dhs 2,507 while the state invests Dhs 14,066 a year in each expat.

I’m afraid I rather screeched to a halt. I’m sure Dr Janardhan’s figures are skewed by the preponderance of the UAE’s labourers, but I can tell you that I for one am paying a great deal more than Dhs 2,507 in fees and taxes. And yes, I know the UAE’s tax free, but when you charge a fee as a percentage of a transaction, for instance the tenancy contract registration fee, calling it a fee is really just obfuscation.

I got to Dhs 8,000 pretty easily and hadn’t even started down the road of the cost of power here (which is significantly more than in the UK, despite the fact this is an oil producing country, because the expats subsidise the Emiratis). Try as I might, I couldn’t work out where the Dhs 14,066 comes from, because you pays for what you gets here, from healthcare to transportation.

It started me wondering what the cost vs economic contribution would be for yer average expat. In short, what’s our ROI?

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