The UAE has one of the lowest unemployment
levels in the world, standing at only 2.4 per cent
at the end of 2001 as a result of high growth in the
non-oil economy and a government drive to find jobs
for citizens, according to official estimates.
The country's workforce
was estimated at around 2.079 million last year,
of which nearly 2.029 million were employed, the
Ministry of Planning said in its 2002 annual report.
This means around
50,000 people were jobless, accounting for about
2.4 per cent of the total labour force and just
1.4 per cent of the 3.48 million population.
The ministry said
it had revised its figures for the workforce which
it earlier estimated at around 1.85 million at the
end of 2001.
Experts said the
revision was apparently prompted by drastic changes
in the labour market as thousands of expatriates
had to leave because of new labour policies while
a large number of nationals are taking up jobs after
reaching the legal job age.
other developing or even developed countries, the
UAE's unemployment rate is one of the lowest in
the world," said a UAE banker.
But experts noted
official estimates do not include thousands of illegal
expatriate residents who are not registered with
the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Although
some of them have part time jobs in violation of
labour laws, many of them are unemployed.
More than 200,000
illegal migrants, mostly Asians, left the UAE five
years ago to benefit from a general amnesty ordered
by President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan
Al Nahyan to clean up the country from immigration
violations and restore discipline in the job market.
Another spardon is expected to be announced in the
next few weeks.
Although actual unemployment
rates might be higher, the UAE does not have a real
joblessness given its strong economy and a serious
government campaign to employ nationals through
the creation of new jobs in the public and private
sectors and replacement of expatriate workers.
Economists said they
saw no hurdles for such a campaign as the non-oil
economy is growing by at least four per cent, which
is faster than the population growth.
the UAE can cope with the population growth and
at the same time maintain its high per capita income
which has eroded sharply in other countries in the
region," an expert said.
A breakdown by the
Ministry of Planning showed the UAE has never suffered
from a severe unemployment problem, with the rate
standing at only 1.9 per cent in 1975.
It fluctuated in
the following years but remained in the range of
one to three per cent.
The level is expected
to be maintained in the following years as the government's
new labour policies focus on employment of nationals
and deportation of unnecessary and unqualified foreign
The private sector
will likely play a major role in the employment
of citizens given its massive potential and the
fact that the public sector is saturated and is
not growing enough to accommodate large numbers
of new jobs.