The chief of police in Dubai recently called for the introduction of a quota system to control the numbers of expatriates living and working within the emirate. Unfortunately, however, the remarks made by the Lieutenant General have caused great stir amongst the expat population, with many people being insulted by his perceived attack on non-Arab residents.
Speaking during the “Lakom al-Qarar” (The decision is yours), a televised discussion program that addresses Arabic on topics of current interest, Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim disclosed that he felt the balance was currently unacceptable and that expatriates should only be permitted to live and work in the region if they hold a specific skill set of which there is a current shortage: “To keep the balance, I recommended a quota system that would ensure that the number of other nationalities should not be more than UAE nationals and Arabs.
“We are concerned about losing our identity, heritage and language. The new generation of Emiratis feels increasingly isolated.”
Comparing the UAE to other countries he added: “If we go to any of other country they do not allow us easily to reside, work or invest. Each country has its own rules and conditions and we have to do the same to preserve our national identity.”
In a final remark, which has been construed by many to be racist, Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim said: “‘An Arab national is like the son of the soil. It is easy to interact and have a better rapport with him as against the non-Arab national. But the gulf nationals should restrain themselves from being over-dependent on expatriates because that leads to a myriad of problems. Terrorism in Saudi Arabia is mainly due to the impact of foreign elements.”
Many members of the expatriate community in Dubai have been infuriated by Tamim’s comments while others have been quick to point out that Emiratis in UAE currently account for just 15% of the total population; evidence perhaps that they are, indeed, in danger of losing their identity.
What is your opinion? Do you think that expatriates in Dubai should be insulted or does Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim have a point?