UAE Population and Demographics

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country on the Persian Gulf. It is a federation of seven emirates; Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain.

In recent years it has undergone significant changes. One of the most notable is a massive increase in its total population.

Population of the UAE in 2020 - Total, by gender, migrant workers

Total Population of the UAE

Data from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, shows the total population of the UAE in 2020 is 9,890,400.

At the time of its formation in 1971 the population of the UAE was 277,463.

In the following decade the annual rate of population growth was around 15%.

In the 1980s and 1990s the population increased by around 6% each year.

Double digit growth figures returned between 2005 and 2009.

In recent years the rate of increase has been just over 1%.

The huge increases in population can be attributed to significant numbers of migrants arriving in the UAE.

Construction booms have accounted for a large proportion of the growth. Huge numbers of labourers have been imported to build skyscrapers and new hotels; particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The number of tourists visiting the UAE has also increased. Hotel and hospitality workers have migrated to service them.

The total population of the UAE and the annual rate of population growth from 1971 to 2020 are shown in the table and graph below.

YearTotal PopulationIncrease in PopulationIncrease in Population (%)
1971277,46342,95118.3
1972330,96853,50519.3
1973394,62563,65719.2
1974467,45772,83218.5
1975548,29580,83817.3
1976637,92689,63116.3
1977735,34797,42115.3
1978835,498100,15113.6
1979931,75296,25411.5
19801,019,50787,7559.4
19811,096,60277,0957.6
19821,164,81668,2146.2
19831,228,45763,6415.5
19841,293,97065,5135.3
19851,366,16572,1955.6
19861,446,38680,2215.9
19871,533,52687,1406.0
19881,627,06893,5426.1
19891,725,67698,6086.1
19901,828,437102,7616.0
19911,937,159108,7225.9
19922,052,892115,7336.0
19932,173,135120,2435.9
19942,294,377121,2425.6
19952,415,099120,7225.3
19962,539,121124,0225.1
19972,671,361132,2405.2
19982,813,214141,8535.3
19992,966,029152,8155.4
20003,134,067168,0385.7
20013,302,722168,6555.4
20023,478,769176,0475.3
20033,711,931233,1626.7
20044,068,577356,6469.6
20054,588,222519,64512.8
20065,300,172711,95015.5
20076,168,846868,67416.4
20087,089,486920,64014.9
20097,917,368827,88211.7
20108,549,998632,6308.0
20118,946,778396,7804.6
20129,141,598194,8202.2
20139,197,90856,3100.6
20149,214,18216,2740.2
20159,262,89648,7140.5
20169,360,97598,0791.1
20179,487,206126,2311.3
20189,630,966143,7601.5
20199,770,526139,5601.4
20209,890,400119,8741.2

Dubai and Abu Dhabi have the biggest populations.

Data from the Dubai Statistics Center (part of the Government of Dubai) shows that the population of Dubai is now over 3.3 million.

Each year the Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre release the Statistical Yearbook of Abu Dhabi. At the time of writing (January 2020), the latest publication is the Statistical Yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2019. This states that the population of Abu Dhabi in mid-2016 was estimated to be 2,908,173.

UAE Population Breakdown by Gender

Statistics from the United Nations show that the population of males in the UAE in 2020 stands at 6,836,349; 69% of the total population.

The female population of the UAE in 2020 is 3,054,051; 31% of the total population.

Most migrants are male and do not relocate to the UAE with their families. There are significant numbers of male construction workers living in labour camps.

The table and graph below show the total UAE population from 1971 to 2020 broken down by gender.

YearMalesFemalesTotal PopulationMales (%)Females (%)
1971 180,691 96,772 277,463 65%35%
1972 220,534 110,434 330,968 67%33%
1973 267,795 126,830 394,625 68%32%
1974 321,530 145,927 467,457 69%31%
1975 380,638 167,657 548,295 69%31%
1976 445,899 192,027 637,926 70%30%
1977 516,456 218,891 735,347 70%30%
1978 587,600 247,898 835,498 70%30%
1979 653,182 278,570 931,752 70%30%
1980 709,050 310,457 1,019,507 70%30%
1981 753,072 343,530 1,096,602 69%31%
1982 787,194 377,622 1,164,816 68%32%
1983 816,444 412,013 1,228,457 66%34%
1984 848,171 445,799 1,293,970 66%34%
1985 887,752 478,413 1,366,165 65%35%
1986 936,916 509,470 1,446,386 65%35%
1987 994,304 539,222 1,533,526 65%35%
1988 1,058,566 568,502 1,627,068 65%35%
1989 1,127,175 598,501 1,725,676 65%35%
1990 1,198,320 630,117 1,828,437 66%34%
1991 1,273,240 663,919 1,937,159 66%34%
1992 1,353,140 699,752 2,052,892 66%34%
1993 1,436,225 736,910 2,173,135 66%34%
1994 1,520,014 774,363 2,294,377 66%34%
1995 1,603,591 811,508 2,415,099 66%34%
1996 1,690,124 848,997 2,539,121 67%33%
1997 1,783,468 887,893 2,671,361 67%33%
1998 1,884,698 928,516 2,813,214 67%33%
1999 1,994,790 971,239 2,966,029 67%33%
2000 2,117,135 1,016,932 3,134,067 68%32%
2001 2,238,739 1,063,983 3,302,722 68%32%
2002 2,364,952 1,113,817 3,478,769 68%32%
2003 2,538,205 1,173,726 3,711,931 68%32%
2004 2,815,233 1,253,344 4,068,577 69%31%
2005 3,229,499 1,358,723 4,588,222 70%30%
2006 3,807,368 1,492,804 5,300,172 72%28%
2007 4,517,658 1,651,188 6,168,846 73%27%
2008 5,266,106 1,823,380 7,089,486 74%26%
2009 5,922,677 1,994,691 7,917,368 75%25%
2010 6,395,966 2,154,032 8,549,998 75%25%
2011 6,648,748 2,298,030 8,946,778 74%26%
2012 6,713,315 2,428,283 9,141,598 73%27%
2013 6,653,157 2,544,751 9,197,908 72%28%
2014 6,565,277 2,648,905 9,214,182 71%29%
2015 6,520,854 2,742,042 9,262,896 70%30%
2016 6,537,834 2,823,141 9,360,975 70%30%
2017 6,595,482 2,891,724 9,487,206 70%30%
2018 6,680,357 2,950,609 9,630,966 69%31%
2019 6,766,806 3,003,720 9,770,526 69%31%
2020 6,836,349 3,054,051 9,890,400 69%31%

Migrants in the UAE

Data from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (International Migrant Stock Report 2019) shows that in 2019 there were 8,587,256 migrants in the UAE. The total number of migrants is a staggering 87.9% of the total population of the United Arab Emirates.

Local Emiratis are a minority in their own country.

6,326,020 of these migrants, or 74%, were male.

YearMigrants (Males)Migrants (Females)Total MigrantsMigrants Males (%)Migrants Females (%)Total UAE Population% Migrants
1990 931,959 374,615 1,306,574 71.328.7 1,828,437 71.5
1995 1,309,868 514,250 1,824,118 71.828.2 2,415,099 75.5
2000 1,757,200 689,810 2,447,010 71.828.2 3,134,067 78.1
2005 2,388,299 892,816 3,281,115 72.827.2 4,588,222 71.5
2010 5,463,446 1,853,251 7,316,697 74.725.3 8,549,998 85.6
2015 5,890,170 2,104,956 7,995,126 73.726.3 8,549,998 86.3
2019 6,326,020 2,261,236 8,587,256 73.726.3 9,770,526 87.9

The nationality of the biggest expatriate group in the UAE is Indian. Almost 40% of the total number of migrants in the UAE are from India.

Other large Asian groups living in the country include Indonesians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Filipinos, Turks, Yemenis, Jordanians, Sri Lankans, Kuwaitis, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Nepalis.

Egyptians are the largest group from Africa. There are also large numbers of Sudanese and Eritreans.

There are fewer European expatriates living in the UAE than commonly believed. The British are the largest group from Europe.

CountryNumber of MigrantsPercentage
India 3,419,875 39.83
Bangladesh 1,079,013 12.57
Pakistan 981,536 11.43
Egypt 886,291 10.32
Philippines 556,407 6.48
Indonesia 314,089 3.66
Yemen 202,574 2.36
Jordan 166,467 1.94
Sudan 131,254 1.53
Sri Lanka 118,708 1.38
Kuwait 66,526 0.77
State of Palestine 57,445 0.67
Syrian Arab Republic 52,142 0.61
Lebanon 41,293 0.48
Turkey 37,621 0.44
United Kingdom 28,760 0.33
Nepal 27,474 0.32
Eritrea 19,048 0.22
France 17,874 0.21
South Sudan 15,688 0.18
Nigeria 15,465 0.18
United States of America 15,390 0.18
Thailand 12,630 0.15
Ethiopia 10,886 0.13
Somalia 9,591 0.11
Morocco 8,811 0.10
Afghanistan 8,071 0.09
Saudi Arabia 6,483 0.08
Tunisia 5,788 0.07
Chad 5,272 0.06
Netherlands 3,110 0.04
Qatar 2,633 0.03
Bahrain 1,969 0.02
Other 261,072 3.04

UAE Population by Age

More than half the population of the UAE falls within the 25 to 49 age bracket. This imbalance can be explained by the large number of expatriates within this age group.

Age GroupTotal PopulationPopulation MalesPopulation FemalesMale to Female Ratio
0-4 499,138 254,845 244,293 1.04
5-9 512,575 261,570 251,005 1.04
10-14 453,459 231,043 222,416 1.04
15-19 389,532 200,605 188,927 1.06
20-24 715,753 487,250 228,503 2.13
25-29 1,433,590 1,082,433 351,157 3.08
30-34 1,795,746 1,321,938 473,808 2.79
35-39 1,373,568 966,919 406,649 2.38
40-44 916,021 677,914 238,107 2.85
45-49 692,088 534,173 157,915 3.38
50-54 456,601 335,612 120,989 2.77
55-59 341,312 255,272 86,040 2.97
60-64 185,966 143,690 42,276 3.40
65-69 56,741 36,818 19,923 1.85
70-74 36,260 24,189 12,071 2.00
75-79 19,624 14,618 5,006 2.92
80-84 7,159 4,405 2,754 1.60
85-89 4,008 2,394 1,614 1.48
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