Dubai: Dubai continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, the latest Dubai Manpower Survey reveals.

The survey conducted by the Dubai Statistic Centre (DSC) shows that unemployment rates in Dubai increased by 0.1 per cent — from 0.3 per cent in 2014 to 0.4 per cent in 2015.

However, the rate still remains relatively lower than that in most major cities in the world. The numbers include all unemployed Emiratis and non-Emiratis, both male and females, over the age of 15.

“The manpower survey is one of the most important strategic surveys DSC conducts annually in support of the policies and plans related to the labour market,” Arif Al Muhairi, DSC executive director, told Gulf News.

Dubai remains one of the global hotspots for expats seeking employment due to relatively high non-taxed incomes, career development opportunities as well as a lifestyle.

However, Nikola Kosutic, research manager at Euromonitor International, told Gulf News the low unemployment rates in the city are due to three main factors. “A factor explaining one of the world’s lowest unemployment rates in Dubai is the high living cost, which prevents people from quitting a job before finding a new one. The majority of foreign workers will remain in their jobs until they have secured different employment, thereby minimising time without steady monthly income,” said Kosutic.

Expats are also required to have an employment visa or have a sponsor in order to live in the country, preventing much growth in unemployment rates.

Kosutic explained that the vast majority of Dubai jobseekers are based abroad, and are therefore included in unemployment statistics of their home countries and not in Dubai.

“Another factor is that a large number of expats arrive in Dubai on a tourist visa to actively seek a job and, equally, they remain out of statistics’ reach due to their non-residency status,” he said.


According to the Manpower Survey, 59.6 per cent of all employed individuals (1.7 million people) in Dubai are between the ages of 25 and 39. The same age group also includes 66.7 per cent of all employed female Emiratis in Dubai and 51.6 per cent of all employed male Emiratis.

Due to the high fertility and high immigration rates, Dubai’s population has a very low median age of 33, making the population “very young” said Kosutic.

Referring to employed individuals, he pointed out there are comparably less employment opportunities for the older population, with few roles reserved for those in senior positions. “Majority of employment opportunities are in construction, hospitality and retail sector requiring younger and physically stronger workers,” said Kosutic.

When it comes to levels of education, Al Muhairi pointed out that 30 per cent of the total employees in Dubai have an educational degree above high school. “There is a qualitative shift in the choice of employees in Dubai, of both males and females. The percentage of employees who have an education less than high school has dropped to 48.7 per cent of the total number of employees in the city, with 48.3 per cent of all unemployed individuals who are seeking jobs holding a university degree or higher,” he explained.

Just the same, Kosutic referred to the high number of blue-collar workers as the main factor behind the low percentage of highly educated employees in Dubai. He explained that the majority of job opportunities in Dubai are found in sectors that don’t require high levels of education, often leading employers to hire better educated workers for low-level positions.

Unemployed Emirati women

The survey also showed a similar trend among unemployed Emirati females, of which 65.7 per cent have a university degree or higher.

“Due to the high disposable income and social factors such as availability of domestic help, Emirati women have comparably better opportunities to invest in higher education,” said Kosutic.

However, most Emirati women seek employment in the public sector and often do not feel financial pressure to take the first available job, which means “they stay unemployed for longer time than average”, added Kosutic.

Al Muhairi said the trend is due to the drastic transformations and changes that have taken place in the labour market in Dubai — regarding quality, efficiency, and job types available. “Those who are seeking employment, namely, “the unemployed”, must hold university degrees to compete on one hand, and must also satisfy the needs of the labour market on the other hand,” he said.


Looking at the profession structure in Dubai, the majority of Emiratis are employed in public administration, defence and compulsory social welfare (55.5 per cent) due to the high benefits and employment policies, said Kosutic.

Al Muhairi pointed out that the percentage of Emirati legislators, high officials and managers makes up 14.2 per cent of all Emirati employees — more than double that of non-Emiratis in the same professions (seven per cent).

The survey also shows that Emiratis working as technicians and specialist assistants make up 27 per cent of all Emirati employees, followed by specialised professions at 18.6 per cent, employees at office jobs at 15.9 per cent, and employees in sales and service at 15.4 per cent.


On the other hand, expatriate employees are concentrated in fields such as crafts, at 23.7 per cent, followed by sales and service at 17.4 per cent, simple primary professions at 16.9 per cent, and professions at 12.6 per cent — of the total non-Emirati employees.

“The majority of expat workers takes positions in construction, wholesale, retail and various administrative and support services,” said Kostuic.

The survey confirmed that 24.8 per cent of non-Emirati employees work in the field of construction.