South Africans in the United Arab Emirates

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South Africans in the United Arab Emirates
Total population
(50,000 - 100,000)
Regions with significant populations
Abu Dhabi · Dubai

There is a large population of South Africans in the United Arab Emirates, estimated at between 40,000 and 100,000 as of 2008.[1] Time Out magazine estimated that 50,000 South Africans resided in Dubai alone as of 2009.[2] The influx of South Africans has been so large as to lead South African newspaper Independent Online to unofficially dub the United Arab Emirates "South Africa's 10th province".[1]

Demographic characteristics[edit]

Half of the South Africans in the UAE hold higher educational qualifications, and only 15% work in entry-level positions.[1] They are motivated to emigrate from South Africa to escape the country's high crime levels and gain international experience.[3] Additional attractions include the high quality of health care, low cost of cars compared to South Africa, and attractive salaries; conversely, South African employees are attractive to UAE firms because they are accustomed to lower salaries than their European peers.[4] Some also describe "reverse discrimination" as a motivation for their departure from South Africa.[5] They tend to be white, male, under 35, and English- rather than Afrikaans-speaking. Roughly 15% intend to remain in the UAE for 10 years or longer.[3] However, most do not to see the UAE as a long-term home, and stay in the country for shorter times than other expatriates in traditional emigration destinations such as London.[1] Nevertheless, there are worries that South African migration to the UAE could become a permanent "brain drain" for the country.[6]


Scholars International Academy has offered courses in Afrikaans to South African children in Dubai since 2007. There is also an Afrikaans-speaking church, and a South African Women's Association.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d Gerardy, Justine (2008-01-12), "Welcome to South Africa's 10th province", Independent Online (South Africa), Archived from the original on 2011-08-05, retrieved 2010-05-25 
  2. ^ "Community Features: South Africans in Dubai", Time Out Dubai, 2009-07-06, retrieved 2010-05-25 
  3. ^ a b "Why South Africans come to the UAE", 7Days, 2006-04-30, retrieved 2010-05-25 
  4. ^ Nevill, Glenda (November 2004), "Home and Away - South Africans living in Dubai", Property Magazine, retrieved 2010-05-25 
  5. ^ Maierbrugger, Arno (2008-07-03), "'Circumstances' force tough decision on South Africans", Gulf News, retrieved 2010-05-25 
  6. ^ FIfe, Ian (2005-12-09), "South Africans in Dubai: SA's loss of skills could soon become permanent", Financial Mail, Archived from the original on 2009-10-26, retrieved 2010-05-25 
  7. ^ Otto, Hanti (2007-08-13), "Afrikaans to be taught in Dubai", Independent Online, Archived from the original on 2011-08-05, retrieved 2010-05-25 

External links[edit]