x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Migration, Emirati view: All welcome, but can a small nation cope?

Emiratis proud that UAE is popular, but worry over numbers.

For young Emiratis, the desire of so many young Arabs to make a new life in the UAE brings mixed feelings: pride that their country is so respected, but concern about how such a small nation will deal with the influx.

Ameera Al Braiki, 25, a postgraduate student, said: "Everyone wants to come to the Emirates because everybody loved Sheikh Zayed. His vision of this country is deep in our land. He was welcoming to everyone and we are too."

But she worries that the proportion of Emiratis in the population will further decline. "I understand there might be crises in their countries and that to them the UAE is an opportunity. But equally that means fewer opportunities for us.

"Having so many people here is going to bring many problems in the long run. Just have a look at the population figures and you will be worried.

"I don't think it's fair for the children of the country when there are only so many jobs and hundreds are graduating every year.

"Yes, we should be helpful to other countries in times of crisis, but we should do so wisely. Our country already gives so much, but it is becoming overcrowded, We as a country are young; we are going step by step. We should grow steadily."

Thura Al Dhaheri, 21, a student at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, respects "all those who are giving to our country and leaving their families for opportunies here, but I also feel it is hard for us here. We are graduating in large numbers and I know girls who have been looking for a job for more than two years with no luck.

"Life is changing, and it is getting more crowded. More cultures are coming together, it has both positive and negative aspects to it, but I feel the negatives exceed. I hope they bring respect to themselves and leave their bad habits, so we can all live in harmony."

Khawla Al Mazroui, 17 and a pupil Al Emirat private school, is in favour of more people coming to the UAE but feels Arabs should be given priority.

"This is a country of prosperity and comfort. We thank God that everybody wants to live in it and everyone is content.

"You have freedom to do and say what you want as long as you do it respectfully.

"Emirati youth, I think, care for both political matters and jobs, but they are most concerned about jobs. We have leaders who are taking care of things outside and we are living in peace, so we are mainly concerned with what we will do.

"I am only against one thing, that foreigners and expatriates come and take the best jobs and with salaries that locals do not get."

balhashemi@thenational.ae