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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

X-pat

Sure this is kind of cheating, but when you consider that 80% of the people living here are non-Emirati, x-pat (short for ex-patriate, or someone who lives outside their native country) is kind of obvious. One of the things that struck me initially when I came here were to variety of nationalities that I worked with. Sure in Japan, we had a lot of people from various English-speaking countries, but even that mostly four countries: the U.S., Canada, Australia and England. Sure, there were a few Kiwis (people from New Zealand) and maybe the occasional Irish and Welsh, but not really a lot of variety. I'm not saying there weren't a lot of people from European, African, South American, or Asian countries, just not that many that I saw.

Here, that's completely different. Now, not only am I a minority among English speakers (I swear there must be more Irish living in the U.A.E than in Ireland), but among other nationalities. I work closely with French, Turkish, Lebanese, and Scottish. One of my closest friends is from Syria. They're all wonderful to work with, but it's funny to work while various languages are being spoken around me.

When I go to events for my kids' school or birthday parties for one of their classmates, I feel like one of the only Americans around. Most of the families seem to be Canadian or Australian. There are a lot of European families. In addition to my kids' school, each country seems to have its own international school. Britain, Canada, Australia, the U.S., France, Germany, Japan, I'm sure there are plenty of others that I don't know about.

That, of course, isn't taking into account all the people I see on the street or working in the shops or driving the taxis. It really isn't taking into account all the people working to build all the buildings. Looking on Wikipedia and other websites, I've found that of the approximately 6 million people living in the U.A.E., 1.75 million are Indian nationals and 1.25 million are Pakistani. Yes, that's right, half of the people living here are from India or Pakistan. An additional 600,000 are Bangladeshi. About another million are from other parts of Asia (Iran, the Philippines, Sri Lanka). So far that gives us over 75% of the U.A.E. population. 5% is from other Arab countries as well as North American, Oceania and European countries (100,000 British nationals). This leaver the remaining 20% or so which is Emirati.

These numbers give the U.A.E. the highest net migration rate in the world at 21.71. If that number means as little to you as it does to me, consider that only five countries have a net migration rate over 10 and of the countries in the top ten, eight of them are city-states or tax havens for offshore holding companies.

The upshot of this statistic-heavy entry is that once again I find myself outnumbered as an American. Unlike Japan, it's the other nationalities rather than the natives.

1 comment:

  1. There are more Irish in any country than Ireland!

    ReplyDelete

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