Dubai hosts 700,000 commuters every day as workforce nears three million

Over half the workforce are women

The Burj Khalifa tower, center, stands among city skyscrapers and the Address Sky View, right, under construction by developers Emaar Properties PJSC, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Transformed into a flamboyant city state from an impoverished Gulf port in less than 50 years, Dubai defied geology to build skyscrapers and elaborately shaped islands in the sea. Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg
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Around 700,000 people commute into Dubai every day for work, new figures have revealed – which will come as no surprise to anyone who has been stuck in rush hour traffic in and around the emirate.

According to the annual survey of the labour force by Dubai Statistics Centre, 2.7 million people now work in Dubai with just over two million also living in the emirate. And it's bad news for anyone frustrated by long road delays – for the last three years Dubai has added an average of 110,000 workers annually.

The survey also shows that employment for 2017 hit 2,778,000, while the number of employed people of working age rose by one percentage point to reach 83.1 per cent.

More than half of the workforce is now female, at 53.6 per cent, or an increase of over four percentage points.

The Statistic Centre said the high rates “reflect the positive impact of government policies designed to promote gender balance and greater economic participation among Emirati men and women. “

It calculates that in Dubai there are 2,851 unemployed Emiratis – a rise of half a percentage point from 2016 to 3.4 per cent. For female Emiratis, the jobless rate reached 4.9 per cent, also a small rise of half a per cent.

For all workers, the unemployment rate was just 0.5 per cent last year, something the DSC says is “significantly lower than the global average.” Almost all of the unemployed were under the age of 40 and nearly four in ten were under 24.

The survey defines unemployment as relating to “an individual who is not working while he or she is capable of doing so and is actively looking for a job.”


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Construction is the biggest employer, with nearly 28 per cent of the workforce, while nearly one in five works in the wholesale and retail trade, and eight per cent in manufacturing.

Six out of ten workers hold a secondary education certificate or higher qualification, with 34 per cent having a bachelor’s degree or higher. Emiratis tend to have higher academic qualifications, with over half of women and around a third of men having a degree or higher.

Breaking down the figures for Emiratis further, the DSC says nearly a third are technicians and association professionals, and one in four are craftsmen.