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Population and Demography

The population in the UAE has grown impressively, since its independence from the UK in 1971. In 2015 record shows that 9.5 million people live in the UAE - and the number is expected to rise significantly.  

According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCAW) the average population growth rate in the UAE from 1980-2025 is 5,39 % and has surpassed that of any other country in the world. Forecasts predict that by the year of 2030 more than 12 million people will be living in the UAE – 2.5 million more than in 2015.


Abu Dhabi is the most populated emirate; followed by Dubai and then Sharjah. Combined these three emirates are home to approximately three quarters of the total residents in the UAE. Approximately 86% of the population is concentrated in urban areas.

Expats and immigrant workers
It is estimated that approximately 16% of the population is Emirati Arabs (citizens of UAE). The rest of the population (residence) is Arab immigrants, Asian, European, American or other nationalities. The UN Population Division estimates that India, Bangladesh and Pakistan represents the largest foreign immigration, while the British are the largest western representation, with close to 250.000 people.  


The annual net migration rate in UAE went up from 31.6 migrants per 1,000 population for the period 1990-1995 to 121.1 migrants per 1,000 population for the period 2005-2010.


A large portion of the population consists of a transient expatriate-based workforce. This expatriate workforce tends to be men and their sheer numbers has tilted the gender balance.

Young and men
Estimates from the UN-ESCAW shows that around 70% of the total population are represented by men in average from 1980-
2050. Due to the immigration policies the majority of the population in the UAE are young people. In 2010, it was estimated that there was a 2.2 male/female ratio in the total population, higher in the 15-64 age range.


The majority of the population can be found in the age group from 25-39. Statistically, the aging of the population in the UAE is not as significant as in other countries, as it is biased by the significant non-national presence, and the fact that non-nationals leave the country by retirement age.