Massive crowd at Dubai Mall Image Credit: Gulf News/Pankaj Sharma

Dubai: As people around the planet observe World Population Day on July 11 to mark the challenges facing 7.6 billion people alive today, experts say cities such as Dubai will have its work cut out for it to accommodate growth while maintaining quality of life and infrastructure.

Dubai’s population has reached 3.086 million people comprising one third of the national UAE population of 9.27 million residents, according to Dubai Statistics Centre figures on Tuesday.

And by 2027, Dubai is expected to jump to more than five million in a city whose population that has grown 1,000 per cent in the last 40 years making it one of the fastest growing cities on the planet thanks to an influx of expatriates seeking work from other countries.

The latest population bulletin released by Dubai Statistics Centre in 2016 showed that Dubai’s infrastructure is not only used by the residents living in Dubai but also by another 1.1 million people who live outside of the emirate and commute to work in the city every day.

The latest bulletin showed roughly 70 per cent of Dubai is comprised of males and the remaining 30 per cent of the population is made up of females.

Nadeem Azam, CEO, Azam Marketing and Middle East Analyst and Marketing Expert, told Gulf News that large cities such as Dubai must prepare for the future growth of urban centres.

“Population growth predictions show the population of Dubai will reach over five million by 2027, which is almost a doubling in the current number of residents. Such a significant rate of population growth can lead to a variety of issues. Most notable is the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. Housing obviously has to be provided for a booming population and this can prove to be challenging particularly in already-tightly-packed cities with limited space.,” he said. “A tighter concentration of people, physical assets, infrastructure and economic activities can result in challenges and upheavals that can have negative repercussions, particularly over the medium-long term.”

How it adds up over three years

  2015 2016 2017
Emiratis 222,875 233,430 245,200
Expatriates 2,223,800 2,465,170 2,731,255

Source: www.dsc.gov.ae/en-us

According to the World Migration Report 2015, Dubai has the highest foreign-born population in major cities globally with 83 per cent of the emirate comprising residents from other countries.

Aazam said “a sizeable foreign-born population invariably has a profound impact on a place. On the positive side, an increasingly cosmopolitan make-up can be tremendously valuable to a location by bringing in fresh ideas, and more and wider skillsets. These benefit the host locality in terms of improving services and facilities available to existing residents, the private sector and the public sector, ranging from neurosurgeons to operate on patients to chefs introducing new kinds of cuisines to people.”

Dr Fayez Elessawy, UAE University (UAEU) researcher, led a study which found that Dubai’s population exploded by 1,000 in the last four decades with Dubai growing from 132,371 people in 1975 to more than 2.1 million people in 2015, a growth rate of 6.5 per cent every year fueled nearly entirely by expatriates.

“The study also found that Dubai has one of the highest annual jump in population with a 6.5 per cent growth rate from 2005 to 2015 when it reached 2.1 million. If the numbers remain that way, the population of Dubai will more than double by 2027, reaching around five million,” said Elessawy earlier.

The study noted that the built-up area of Dubai grew from 54 sq km in 1975, which grew to 977 sq km in 2015, and this means that there has also been a great urban expansion as well.

“This urban expansion has not only stopped with Dubai, but has also extended to eastern areas like Sharjah and Ajman, with many people who work in Dubai going to live in both those cities,” he said.

By the numbers

Dubai Emirati population

2015: 222,875
2016: 233,430
2017: 245,200

All other expatriate population

2015: 2,223,800
2016: 2,465,170
2017: 2,731,255

- Source: www.dsc.gov.ae/en-us/