The population of Dubai increased by 7.6 per cent last year, the emirate's statistical body said yesterday. The population grew from 1.645 million in 2008 to 1.771 million by the last quarter of 2009. The figure runs counter to widespread estimates by banks and consultancies that Dubai's population shrank by as much as 17 per cent last year due to the cancelling of work visas between the end of 2008 and early last year.
Some banks based their population forecasts on the estimated number of layoffs in property companies. Yesterday's figures, published by the Dubai Statistics Centre, showed that Dubai is a largely male society, with 1.37 million men and slightly over 400,000 women. There were 3,679 marriages in the emirate in 2009, an increase of 436, or 13 per cent, from 2008. Dubai also experienced a 10 per cent increase in divorces, from 656 in 2008 to 720 last year.
The federal Government estimated in January that the country's population would reach 7.55 million this year, a significant increase from 5.63 million in 2006. The National Human Resources Development and Employment Authority also stated that the country's population doubles every 8.7 years. By comparison, the world population doubles every 55 years. Emirati citizens are estimated to represent 13.3 per cent of the country's population.
The Dubai Statistics Centre did not reveal how it arrived at its estimations, but the statistics sheet quoted the Dubai Courts Department for figures on population. It was not clear whether thousands of people who work in Abu Dhabi but rent flats in Dubai were included in the figure. The last year has seen a trickle of people moving from the capital to Dubai, attracted by relatively affordable rates after rents dropped, and by the larger amount of properties available for rent in the emirate.
For example, according to a report released in August of last year by Landmark Advisory, a property consultancy company, the annual rent for a two-bedroom apartment on the Palm Jumeirah dropped by Dh60,000 (US$16,300) between March and August 2009. Andrew Chambers, a consultant with Asteco, a property sales, leasing and management company, said the increase in Dubai's population was surprising. "There are people going from Abu Dhabi to Dubai because of the cost of accommodation and shortage in Abu Dhabi, but I don't think this accounts for all of [the population increase]. Some of it must be natural growth."
In 2007, the Government of Abu Dhabi estimated the capital's population at 930,000.
Statistics on real estate showed that 2,501 buildings, mostly commercial, were completed in Dubai last year.