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Dubai’s 0.30% Unemployment Rate is the Lowest in the World

Image : Excellency Arif Al Muhairi, Executive Director of Dubai Statistics Center
Image : Excellency Arif Al Muhairi, Executive Director of Dubai Statistics Center

Al Mahiri: Labor Market Policies and Strong Economic Performance Behind Low Unemployment Rate

Dubai reported the world's lowest unemployment rates on both the domestic and international levels with an unemployment rate not exceeding 0.3% for last year, which is equivalent to less than a half of a percent. Employment rates among UAE citizens reached 2.58%, while employment rate for expatriates reached 0.19%. The low unemployment rates were attributed to methodical policies and labor and residency laws and regulations which played a key role in regulating the labor market. Growth rate for the Gross Domestic Product GDP for Dubai reached 3.8%.

These findings were announced in the Work Force Survey Report for Dubai for last year which was prepared by the Dubai Statistics Center (DSC) and which is part of the annual survey conducted by the DSC through field visits to expatriate families and individuals who are stably resident in Dubai. As with the case with all the surveys and statistical results announced by the DSC and which are based on internationally approved criteria to guarantee the quality of such surveys and results and to meet the requirements of international comparisons, the survey was carried out in accordance with the technical criteria and classifications approved by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

DSC Chief Executive Officer Aref Al Mehairi told Al Bayan newspaper that the survey targets those stably residing in Dubai whether such persons are economically active or inactive and that the workforce population with ages over 15 years old and who fit the criteria adopted by the ILO are chosen to be reckoned within the economically active population. Aref said that DCS experts and after a series of technical meetings with ILO experts and experts from DSC strategic partners on the domestic and national levels constructed a unified national form in accordance with the latest international recommendations. The forms where statistically adjusted in accordance with the best statistical practices and methodologies.

   Work Teams

Al Mehairi pointed out that the survey was conducted through field work teams that included 42 researchers and 8 field supervisors who were distributed on all the geographical areas of Dubai, in addition to the administrative work teams and the technical and demographic experts work teams at the DSC who supervised the technical and statistical  aspects of thee survey. He added that the survey covered a sample of 5,000 families of which 2,000 were UAE families and the remaining 3,000 were expatriate families, in addition to 1,000 individuals from workers concentrations. Mehairi pointed out that field visits to families and individuals were conducted by qualified researchers trained to obtain all the demographic and educational demographics of the individuals sampled in general and to obtain the economic characteristics for individuals who are above 15 years old in particular.

Varying Rates

The survey results revealed that unemployment rates vary as a function of gender and nationality with unemployment rate among males reaching 0.2% and among females reaching 0.8%. Unemployment rates increase for UAE females to reach 3.67% compared to unemployment rate for UAE males which was 1.92% with a difference of 1.75 percent. The same trend was observed in expatriates but with less variance as employment rates for female expatriates was 0.47% whereas the unemployment rate for male expatriates was 0.14%.

Lowest Rates

"Perhaps among the key indicators of the work force survey and  the analysis of unemployment data is determining the extent of unemployment among the youth in the 15-24 age group. ILO statistics indicate that unemployment rates among the world's youth reached nearly 13.0% last year, this is compared with an unemployment rate of 2.06% among the youth in the UAE which is among the lowest unemployment rates in the world. Unemployment rate among UAE youth was 6.69% which is 6.31% lower than the world average rate," added Mahiri.

He added that the report revealed marked variance between unemployment rates for the youth in the 15-24 age group in Dubai according to gender and that unemployment was highest in the 20-24 age group, which is the newly graduated age group "those new comers into the work market." Unemployment rate among young males was 1.70% while unemployment rate among young females was 3.58%. The variance was obvious between UAE young people with unemployment rate among UAE young men reaching 5.00% whereas unemployment rate among UAE young women reaching 9.19% and this variance is due to the preference by females to certain jobs and the non-suitability of some jobs which forces young UAE females to continue searching for work or waiting until they get such jobs especially in the education and government sectors.


Al Mehairi stressed that identifying the characteristics of unemployment persons older than 15 years in Dubai primarily aims at adopting applicable labor market policies and strategies on one side, and on the other side to adapt between the labor market requirements and need and the outputs of the educational system to arrive at all the possible solutions to create more jobs. The total number of unemployed person in Dubai reached 4,767 persons, of which 2,720 were male and 2,047 were female.

The number of UAE citizens older than 15 years and who were unemployed reached 1,819, of which 848 were male and 971 were female. Nearly have of those were in the 20-29 age group with a percentage of 45.3.

254,000 Female Workers are Older than 15 Years

Survey results for employed persons who are older than 15 years old and who are stably residing in Dubai revealed that the number of employed persons reached 1,605,806 among them 1,351,856 are male and 253,950 are female. The majority of those employed are in the 20-49 age group with the percentage of those employed in this age group reaching 91% and the percentage of the employed males in this category reaching 90.6% of the total males employed, while the percentage of females employed in the same age group was 93.1% of the total females employed. Therefore it is possible to say that the workforce in Dubai is a young workforce that is capable to work on the short and long term which reflects positively on the continuity of the economic growth of Dubai.

The same trend was observed with respect to the age of employed UAE citizens who are 15 years or older whose number reached 68,716 employed person of which 43,258 were male and this number represents 63.0% of the total employed citizens and 25,458 females and this number represents 37% of the total employed citizens. The percentage of employed UAE males in the 20-49 age group was 84.3% of the total employed UAE males who are older than 15 years old, whereas the percentage of employed UAE females for the same age group reached 94.1% of the total employed UAE females who are older than 15 years.

The Characteristics of the Employed

Al Mehairi stated that the survey reveals that among the key characteristics of those employed and who are 15 years old or older is that 20.6% of the total employed hold a bachelors degree and 19.8% hold a secondary school completion certificate and that the percentage of employed UAE citizens who hold a bachelors degree reached 29.4% while this percentage was 34.5 for holder of high school completion certificate and that the highest employment percentage for UAE males was among those holding a high school completion certificate which was 33.9% followed by those holding a bachelors degree with 23.4%. The opposite trend was observed for UAE employed females as the highest percentage was among those holding a bachelors degree which was 39.5% then those holding a secondary school certificate with 35.5% of the total UAE employed females. The majority of those employed were married with a percentage of 73.2% and more than half of the employed citizens are married with a percentage exceeding 58.0% whereas the percentage of non-married employed citizens reached 38.1%.

The survey showed that 23.4% of the all the employed who are 15 years or older are vocational workers and those working in related fields and that 17.3% work in sales and services and 13.6% work in elementary "simple" professions, and that 13.3% are specialist and that 25% of all the employed UAE citizens are technicians and assistances to specialists, followed by specialists with a percentage of 22.7%, then those working in sales and services with a percentage of 14.1% and that 25.7% of all employed male citizens are technicians and assistants to specialists while specialized occupations came in the first place for employed female citizens with a percentage of 30.8% of all the employed female citizens who are 15 years or older.

Survey results also revealed that 24.9% of all those employed are employed in the construction sector, followed by those working in the wholesale and retail sale and vehicle and motorbike repair with a percentage of 14.5%, followed by those employed in administrative services and support services with a percentage of 12.4%, then those working in the processing industries with a percentage of 9% then those working in transport and warehousing with a percentage of 8%. Results for employed citizens according to the economic activity showed that more than half of the employed citizens work in general management, defense and pursuant to the mandatory social security i.e. in ministries and government departments whether federal or local with a percentage of 50.7% of all the employed citizens. This is followed by those employed in transport and warehousing with a percentage of 9.6%, followed by those employed in financial sectors and insurance with 8.8%, then those working in whole and retail sale with a percentage of 6.6% and that 55.6% of employed males citizens and 42.5% of the employed female citizens are employed in general management, defense and pursuant to the mandatory social security, i.e. in ministries and federal or local government departments, whereas 9.5% of the employed male citizens are employed in the transport and warehousing sector, 8.% in wholesale and retail trade. The survey showed that for employed citizen females, 15.8% are employed in financial and insurance activities and 8.9% in the education sector.