Diversity and social cohesion in the United Arab Emirates

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The article examines the effects of cultural diversity on social cohesion in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is an oil-rich country established in 1971 as a federation of seven Emirates. It is a small state with a population of ten million; the citizens account only for 10% of the population. Oil wealth enables the country to achieve advanced levels of human, social and economic development. Recently, the UAE has experienced a massive social change; modernization processes have been impended on highest levels. However, due to the historical demographic structure of the local population, the UAE always depended on external labor forces. Skilled and unskilled male workers immigrate from neighboring countries; as a result, the population structure has changed. After the world economic depression in 2008, the UAE experienced a dramatic increase in the number of population. Professional workers from all over the world flowed to the country, and Dubai became a major center for the regional trade market; today, its free zones are considered the best technical base for service and logistic businesses. Today, more than 200 nationalities live in the country, and the majority of them are migrant male workers. This instable and unbalanced demographic structure created cultural domination — international cultures dominate the local one. The demographic imbalance between citizens and foreigners resulted in a kind of disharmony. Due to their feeling of being a minority, the Emiratis move from the old cities to the suburban areas, which creates many social tensions. All these circumstances affected social cohesion, communal harmony and the direct social interaction of cultural groups. To illustrate the tensions and discomforts in the UAE, the author presents the results of face-to-face interviews and a group discussion — as a critical analysis by those in the center of change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-846
Number of pages10
JournalRUDN Journal of Sociology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Citizens
  • Cohesion
  • Culture
  • Diversity
  • Immigrants
  • Majority
  • Minority
  • Society

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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