Population distribution

The UAE has the most diverse population among the Middle East countries. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates the population to be approximately 7.9m people (2014). It is estimated that 81% of the population is comprised of non-nationals as over 100 nationalities reside there. The same report by EIU reports expatriates account for more than 85% of the work force.

There are various estimates on the population distribution by ethnic background and exact figures are not available. What does remain clear however is that UAE nationals are outnumbered by expatriates. The percentage of UAE citizens is estimated to be anything from 11% up to 19%. The largest portion of the population (estimated to be around 50%) is comprised of South and Southeast Asians, predominantly from India followed by Pakistan Bangladesh and the Philippines. The majority of these, engage in manual labour, administration, secretarial and retail positions. Other Arabs are believed to comprise around 23% of the population. Westerners and other nationalities are thought to be 6-8%.

Similar assessments suggest that around 70% of the UAE population is male, most of which between the ages of 30-40. The amount of time expatriates come to work in the country varies greatly, from a couple of months to several years.

The majority of the population lives in Abu Dhabi (39%), followed by Dubai (29%), Sharjah (18%) and the rest (14%) is divided among the other four emirates.