Population leaps to 8.19 million

The first comprehensive report from the National Bureau of Statistics sheds light on economy and social trends in the UAE.

The population of the UAE has reached 8.19 million and is continuing to grow at a rapid rate despite the global downturn, according to the first comprehensive report on the country's economy, unveiled yesterday. In 2008, the population stood at 8.07 million. By last year, it had risen by 125,000, records from the National Bureau of Statistics show. The 8.19m figure is higher than other official institutes have previously suggested.

The Report on Economic & Social Dimension 2009 reveals that the majority of the population, 81.9 per cent, is in the 15 to 59 age group. Just 1.3 per cent are aged 60 or over. The report said that the country's economic growth could be as high as 3.2 per cent this year, compared with an estimated rise of 1.3 per cent in the gross domestic product for 2009. The range of growth forecast for this year is from two per cent to 3.2 per cent of GDP. The inflation rate was 1.56 per cent last year, and is expected to remain below two per cent for 2010.

The report revealed that last year's falling oil price and higher government spending to tackle the fallout from the global economic crisis had "completely wiped out" the government surplus in 2009. The 65-page report also looked at several other key areas - health, labour and education. It said a total 750,234 children attended school in 2008-2009, an increase of 66,000 on the previous school year.

More than 487,000 were enrolled in private schools, up by 64,923 compared with 2007-2008, reflecting the dramatic increase in pupils attending non-state schools. Health care saw a 40 per cent increase in nurses in one year in 2008, from 17,336 to 24,131, and a 30 per cent increase in doctors, but hospitals beds decreased from 9,683 to 9,176. Labour statistics showed that 79 per cent of the expatriate population was "economically active", compared with 45 per cent of Emiratis.

Nearly 20 per cent of the population were voluntarily unemployed while 2.3 per cent were looking for work.