The current research was conducted within the period from 2nd August to 3rd November 2016. It involved ten structural focus groups. They mainly consisted of unemployed individuals from ten selected regions in the United Arab Emirates. These related areas included Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Siji, Hatta, Dhaidi, khati, Bida Zayed, Muzayrah, and Habshan. The aim of the study was to define the reasons for unemployment in the United Arab Emirates as well as to determine its social, political, and economic consequences. Due to the collected data and its systematical analysis, it was possible to arrive at the corresponding results. 1500 individuals participated in the research with a sample frame of unemployed people. Systematic sampling was applied.

The research used the deductive approach while analyzing the data. Data collection involved administering of both open and closed questionnaires, structured interviews, and focus-group discussions. The research was aimed at validating the corresponding statement or hypothesis regarding globalization, escalating population growth, and Emiratization among other internal and external factors connected with the unemployment problems in the given area. The guiding principles included the related past research documented in several peer-reviewed articles as any other scientific inquiry. The obtained results will be used to design workable solutions to unemployment crisis by the responsible ministry of the UAE government.

Reasons for Unemployment in the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) and Its Social, Political, and Economic Implications


Unemployment is an emerging worldwide issue. This is a situation when people who have reached the working age are unable to find a job despite their strong desires and effort. Moreover, both the advancing and developed nations faced this common problem. It is worth noting that unemployment occurred due to the combination of social, political, and economic factors. According to the examinations provided in this paper, unemployment has a lot of economic, social and policy implications. Moreover, it is a global crisis that needs comprehensive solutions. It is, therefore, worth noting that since this disaster should be addressed with urgency, the research appeared at the right time. Though this research was conducted in one particular country, the findings can be used to formulate solutions of unemployment eradication in the entire world. Several documents show the trends of the given problem in many countries and in the United Arab Emirates in particular.

According to the estimations of the International Labor Organization, (2016), the global youth unemployment is projected to hit a 13.1 % percent mark by 2016 and remain at that level until the year 2017. This is a 0.2% increase from 12.9 % in 2015 (Emerging economic worst hit, para 1). According to Debora (2016), the International Labor Organization Deputy Director-general for policy argues that these enormous differences in the labor market need to be urgently addressed by the responsible member states of the given organization and other social partners ( ILO proposal, para 2). The report by I.L.O indicates that the unemployment challenge is specifically acute in Southern Asia, Northern Africa, and the Arab States. In these areas, female youth’s participation rates are 32.9, 30.2, and 30.2 percent respectively below as compared to teens in 2016, were 39% is working poverty in Arab states. Unemployment alongside other factors is the reasons for which people migrate to other regions in order to seek better places for living (I.L.O, 2016)

According to the latest documentation from the World Bank (2016), youth’s unemployment was double than that of the overall unemployment rate in 2013. Statistics further indicates that Saudi Arabia, for example, has an overall unemployment rate of 5.7% and an overall youth unemployment rate of 28.7%. The United Arabs Emirates (UAE) has 3.8 % of overall employment with 9.9% youth unemployment (World Bank, 2016). The unemployment rate in Bahrain and Oman amounts to 20%, while Kuwait recorded 19.6%. Qatar, the only country in this region with unemployment under control recorded an overall unemployment rate of 0.5% and 1.5 % of youth unemployment (World Bank, 2016)

Unemployment has evolved over time. It has a long historical background (Markin, 2010). Moreover, this problem has been always the greatest hurdle of all times that has stagnated economic development thus leading to the waste of resources, which deteriorates both the urban and the rural economies. The available records suggest that the year 1999 recorded the highest unemployment rate globally of about 2.9%. 2010 and 2013 marked 6%, and it is estimated that the number will increase to 6.2% during the following years. According to numerous observations, the problem of unemployment is more rampant in rural areas than in urban centers. Due to the development of industry, the working class has more possibilities to be employed. Population increase has been a reason for the occurred gap between people and job opportunities (Markin, 2010). High unemployment rates in the Arab countries is the issues that needs to be in a limelight because it creates many economic frictions hence creating hopeless and helpless society characterized by escalating poverty levels, erosion of health and even social isolation. Considering the above facts, it was appropriate to conduct the related study in order to address the unemployment problems. The research findings are significant because can be used to formulate policies, rules, laws and regulations that will set the control over this global crisis, promote political, social, and economic advancements not only in the UAE but also in the entire world.

Statement of Research/ Thesis of the Research Statement of Research/ Thesis of the Research

Population growth, globalization, and Emiratization are the new causes of maximized unemployment in the United Arabs Emirates.

The Significance of the Research Problem

This question is crucial because it allows the researcher to define the causes of unemployment in the UAE, the consequences, causes and effect of the problem on the social, economic, and political development. Unemployment is a global crisis, hence finding the solution to this situation is the most significant task aimed at eliminating the associated problems.

Keywords of the Research

The following are the relevant keywords contained in the research.

Unemployment, the United Arabs Emirates, International labor organizations, consequences of unemployment, and reasons for employment, economic crisis, social-political and economic factors, globalization, Emiratization, and population growth.

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Literature Review

There exists a sizeable literature available about unemployment. This research includes information from the previous literature about the related issue as there were different studies about the same concept of unemployment. Any scientific research requires facts. Consequently, this example of any investigation must review the information presented by the previous researchers about the afore-mentioned problem. This literature review will explore different sources that include peer-reviewed articles. The main section will consist of different parts for easy understanding and reasonable organization of the facts in order to ensure that the work is systematic. The review will contain accurate information provided in the articles about possible factors leading to unemployment. It also reviews the related consequences as well as some undertaken attempts aimed at eradicating the problem in the related area of the research, namely the United Arab Emirates.

Factors that has Led to the Unemployment in the United Arabs Emirates

There is a general sense that many factors, such as social, economic, and political contributed to the unemployment situation in the United Arabs Emirates. Past research and studies conducted at different times by various people involved in the problem of unemployment support the above argument.

The Cost of Foreign Labour

The first factor that has led to the widespread unemployment in the UAE, according to Awad (2010), is the cost of the foreign labor in the United Arab Emirates as compared to the original inhabitants of the country. Al- Awad claims that the foreign workers tend to be cheap as compared to the native ones. Therefore, the employers of the private sector prefer them in most cases because these employees are cost effective. Most industries employ these foreign workers in the form of expatriates as compared to the natives. Al -Awad explains that the private sector views the foreigners as cost effective because they aid in high production with low wages. (Awad M .2010). This article is in compliance with the problem of the current research.

Emiratization in the United Arab Emirates

Ramady (2013) in his research about the gulf employment with specific reference to the introduction of quota systems in the United Arab Emirates argues that the government policies have led to the increased unemployment in the country. He claims that the introduction of quota system is advantageous to the foreign companies as compared to the local enterprises. This denies opportunities for the local people. He insists that the fact that the government has given the private sector a mandate of creating jobs has worsened the situation even further (Ramady, 2013). Mohamed Ramady’s argument is in compliance with that of Al Awad who argues about the consequences of the expatriates on the natives as far as employment opportunities in the United Arab Emiratization are concerned. He considers that the expatriates have denied job opportunities for the citizens. This has caused the problem of unemployment to the residents (Awad, 2010). The two types of the research are relevant because they tackle the occurred situation in the UAE providing crucial information about the studied area, hence ensuring a great benefit for the reference.

High Population Growth

Nowadays, the United Arab Emirates has an estimated population of eight million people. In the analysis of the demographic trends in the Arab region, Barry Markin (2010) states that there has been high population growth. He also claims that such situation caused numerous challenges to the people such as unemployment. The reason for such an increase in population is due to the high influx of foreigners, especially from Philippines and India to UAE, controlling the private sector and leaving the natives jobless ( Badraya, 2007.) Badraya further claims that this situation has resulted in different problems concerning the management in the workplace. The words of these two researchers have been coined by Roudi-Fahim and Kent (2010), who agree that the higher population has caused unemployment despite the countries controlling the world petroleum market. In addition, they claim that population growth is a barrier to the job opportunities in the Middle East. In other words, there are more people than opportunities (Round, & Kent 2010). These three articles are rather crucial in the research because they are in compliance with the investigated problem.

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Consequences of Unemployment

It is evident that unemployment has a lot of consequences such as social, political, and economic. There are several research conducted in this area of the social science. The study is important for the given research. This section will contain general consequences before exploring the effects of unemployment in the United Arab Emirates.

General Consequences of Unemployment

Alison, Andrew, and Montagne (2013) conducted a study on the effects of unemployment. In their paper, they tried to define the relationship between unemployment and suicide. Reviewing a sample of the unemployed people, they conducted a systematic analysis. The finding suggested that long-term unemployment is associated with the cases of death. The study indicated that the levels of unemployment are directly proportional to the cases of death and vice versa. It is possible to deduce that unemployed people experience a lot of tension and stress hence they get depressed and end up killing themselves (Allison Andrew & Antony, 2013). In other words, unemployment can lead to stress, depression, and death. Loring Jones agrees with the above claims. In his research, published in 1988 by the journal of sociology and social welfare with the title “Unemployment and social integration: A review”, he argues that loss of a job is a stressful event, which may be an onset of both psychiatric and physical illness (Dean and Lin, 1977; Dohrenwend & Dohrenwend, 1974; Greenblatt & Becerra, 1982; Laing, 1978). The above literature concerning the consequences of the research is an important reference issue.

Consequences of Unemployment in the United Arabs Emirates

Roudi- Famini and Kent (2007) claim that high populations in the middle east and north African countries as well as in the UAE has led to the unemployment opportunities, which has resulted in declining fertility rate and increasing elderly population (Roudi-Fahim, & Kent, 2007). They were trying to investigate the challenges facing job opportunities in the Middle East and identified that the population has a low fertility rate as a result of delayed marriages and poor maternal care. The increase in elderly residents was also a great challenge (Roudi- Famini & Kent, 2007)

An attempt to Control Unemployment in the United Arabs Emirates

Sheriff (2013), in his research about microeconomics policy, localization, and reducing employment, analyzed the unemployment anomaly in the united Arabs Emirates. The related investigation helped him to design the long-term and comprehensive strategy concerning the treatment of unemployment problem (Sherriff, 2013). In order to address effectively the high rate of unemployment among the United Arab Emirates citizens, it was necessary to implement this task as a national policy. This paper is a reasonable reference for the research because the issues addressed herein are just and similar. Karoly (2010) argues about the role of education in preparing the graduates for the labor market in GCC countries. He demonstrates a broad review concerning the role of education in the job market with particular respect to the gulf cooperation council, where UAE is a member state. He argues that education, if used effectively, can act as a tool that can address unemployment crisis in GCC member countries (introduction, p1). This is an important source of information, which is possible to consider when designing the key policies that refer to both employment trends and the education system. In order to obtain benefit from addressing unemployment, it is important to ensure its correspondence to the market and labor trends (Karoly, 2010)

In the UAE, women have decided to take their initiative in order to curb the problem of unemployment, which is preventing the females from progressing. Hayfaa (2015) from the University of Saint John, Canada, Faculty of business explores how Emeriti female entrepreneurs survive in a patriarchal society through the corresponding motivation. These women from the UAE were self-motivated and managed to protect their enterprises from the challenge of unemployment (Hayfaa, 2015)

Clinton (2014) in his research paper “Unemployment in the UAE. The Emirates Economist”, provides an overview of the unemployment challenges in the United Arabs Emirates. The effects of the problem have also been highlighted as well as the possible reasons of its occurrence (Clinton, 2014 p 1-52). The current research is similar to the afore-mentioned one because it captures most of the examined areas, hence providing an appropriate source for referencing purposes.

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This research is a qualitative one. Therefore, it reveals qualitative methods of collecting data, recording, analyzing, and interpreting the raw data into meaningful information from which it is possible to make a conclusion. Due to many considerations that involve the nature of the research and the intended objectives, structured-group discussions structured- interviews and questionnaire methods were considered appropriate for the data collection. There was equal representation from each of the ten regions. The total number of the participant was 1500. It implies that each of the ten selected areas had 150 members. The groups were further divided in a way that every region had three groups of 50 people each. Each group consisted of 20 individuals who have never been formally employed and were aged twenty-one and above. There were generally 20 participants who had been working in the private sector for more than five years. However, their contracts were terminated, and they have been jobless since that time. Ten people worked in the governmental sector but faced the same problem of contract termination. Therefore, the sample frame consisted of only unemployed people but under different circumstances. Further, they distributed the ten selected groups across Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Siji, Hatta, and Dhaidi, khati, Bida Zayed, Muzayrah, and Habshan areas of the United Arabs Emirates.

Sampling Procedures

The researchers obtained the example of 1500 people through systematic sampling. Before the sampling, they organized unemployment forums in ten regions simultaneously. Before people entered the forum halls, they had to write their names in either of the forms provided. These three forms included the one for those who had never been employed, those whose employment contracts had been terminated in the government sector, and those whose contract had been terminated and they remained jobless respectively. In order to ensure that the attended individuals were aged twenty-one and above, the researchers inspected their identification cards. Moreover, these people were informed that the aim of the forum was to conduct a research on unemployment. Therefore, they asked the participants to come with termination letters from their previous jobs. Moreover, these people enjoyed an attractive allowance during the time they stayed there waiting for the decision. After the researchers collected the names in three forms and counterchecked them, they selected the people using the sampling method.
While applying systematic sampling, they selected the tenth name from each of the three forms and prepared three lists. 20 people were those who have never been employed, 10 were those whose contracts had been terminated from the government sector and the last list contained the names of 10 people whose contract has been terminated from the public sector. The exercise ran simultaneously in all of the ten selected regions across the United Arabs Emirates. Finally, they arrived at a sample size of 1500 people.

Data Collection

In order to verify the accuracy of the results, different methods of data collection were used in the selected regions for comparison purposes. From ten selected areas, three employed the use of questionnaires, three areas used structured interviews, and four of them used focused discussion. In the certain areas, the questionnaires were both of closed and open type. The participants filled the questionnaires as directed. In areas with administered structural interviews, they interviewed each individual during considerable amount of time based on the same designed guidelines while the interviewees noted their responses. Lastly, in areas where they used a focused group discussion as a method of collecting data, all the fifty participants obtained the equal opportunities to discuss the specifically provided topic related to the issue of unemployment with the help of the moderator. Whatever they discussed was recorded on a tape. All these materials were later collected for corresponding analysis by the experts. The reason for using the structural interview was the fact that this method has standard questions. Consequently, these issues can provide quantifiable information, whereas the data obtained is considered to be more reliable because it has internal consistency. Moreover, it allows some generalization of the results from the population where they obtained the sample.

Data Analysis

The research applies the deductive approach using the structure or predetermined framework to analyze the data with the help of the established structure, theories, and questionnaire.


The focused-group and structured interview transcripts were analyzed. The transcription involves examining the interviews, discussions, and surveys. This approach is easy and does require much consumption. 55.4% of the participants were of the opinion that the government had failed its mandate in dealing with unemployment. 10.9 % admitted that globalization influenced the jobs of the people. 30.2% considered that Emiratization had denied them jobs since there were a high number of foreigners, which led to the displacement of expatriates in the private sector while the remaining 3.5% said that the levels of education are the greatest contributor of unemployment.

Unemployment had both physical and psychological effects on the individuals. From 1500 participants, 801 were facing malnutrition because they could not afford quality food. 80 people stated that they had experienced stress whereas 20 noted that they had depressed at one point when they had lost their job. 60 people said that they knew some individuals who committed suicide after losing their jobs, and the remaining 539 refused to take their children to better schools.

It is worth noting that unemployment had a social impact on the people. 99.9% participants indicated that it had led to the increased number of crimes such as robbery, prostitution, alcoholism, early marriages, and school dropouts.

The following tables is a summary on the data obtained on causes of unemployment in the UAE:

Results of the causes of unemployment

Table 1. Results of the causes of unemployment for the 1500 people participated.

Number of people affected by different unemployment

Table 2. Number of people affected by different unemployment- related issues

When a comparison is made using the obtained data, there is a very close relationship between the employment situations in UAE and other countries in the Gulf region. This results are in line with Roudi-Famin and Kant (2007) which indicated that high growth population in the Middle East and North Africa has resulted to unemployment. The situation and the trend on unemployment is the same as this in UAE with little variations based on results from various research as indicated earlier in the introduction and literature review section of this paper.

Results Analysis

The above results suggest that the government participation in curbing unemployment is of paramount importance. Their idea of promoting Emiratization has led to the increased expatriates to the UAE who are offering cheap labor denying the native most of the opportunities. That major social challenges result from the unemployment. It is also evident that the crime rate is directly proportional to the level of unemployment. Availability of job opportunities is indirectly proportional to the speed of population. Population increase leads to decreased job opportunities and vice versa. Unemployment and the levels of education have a correlation in two ways. Education that observes current trends is beneficial as compared to the one that is not compatible with the market demand. Secondly, low levels of employment have a direct impact on the level and quality of life. Due to the high poverty rates and psychological problems, the levels of education are lower.

Discussions of Problems and Limitations

Some challenges were encountered during conduction of the research. There were those challenges that occurred in the field as well as methodological ones. Some respondents were illiterate hence they could not fill the questionnaires as required since they could not read and write. Some foreigners encountered language barrier and required involvement of a translator. The focused group discussion and the structured interviews lasted long hours, which was tiresome for the participants. The researcher had to travel to the selected regions, which was costly and time-consuming. Analyzing the data was a colossal challenge. The data was voluminous, ranged from questionnaires and recorded focused discussions as well as the structured interviews; consequently, the researchers had to transcribe and analyze the obtained information in order to arrive at the results. The approach used in data analysis is not accurate as compared to the inductive method that employs thematic analysis. In addition, interviews as well as focused group discussions have their limitations. The researches applied the questionnaires only to the literate people, and somebody may have written a false answer. In the structured- interviews, the interviewer had to stick to the agreed questions even in case other matters may have appeared. Further research that involved thematic analysis of the previous one needed to be conducted in order to provide the exact results.


This study successfully explores the reasons for unemployment in the United Arab Emirates, its causes, and challenges. In addition, it tried to bring in the limelight the attempts of the previous researchers. According to the obtained results, it is evident that globalization, increase in population, and Emiratization are some of the key factors that have resulted in unemployment in the UAE. Hence, one may conclude that the thesis is true.

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