The number of residency visas being issued in Dubai remains a “net positive” figure, despite anecdotal reports of huge numbers of expatriates fleeing the country, according to the chief economist in the Dubai government.
Raed Safadi told a meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Dubai on Sunday that the emirate issued 59,000 visas every month – which breaks down to almost 2,000 visas a day.
This figure “had come down in December”, Safadi admitted, but added that a net of 1,000 visas were issued every day in January.
His comments were sparked by media reports during the past three weeks that visas were being cancelled at a rate of 1,500 a day, amid claims that thousands of expatriates were leaving Dubai as a result of the global economic crisis.
“Yes, we have cancelled a lot, but at the same time a lot have been issued,” Safadi told the conference.
However, delegates called for more clarity from the government on such figures in the future, to prevent the spread of rumours.
“The problem here in the region is that the absence of regular official data is encouraging the generation of these rumours,” said Marios Maratheftis, regional head of research at Standard Chartered.
“People find it easier to come up with rumours because it is very difficult to get hold of the official number,” Maratheftis added.
Safadi admitted that government data needed to be made more readily available, stating that “in the data front we are not very forthcoming”.
This was due to “the simple reason that the mechanisms to produce these data are not in place”, he said.
“On a daily basis, we do not have the means to actually tell you that there are 500 new jobs being created in such and such sectors,” Safadi added. “This is a dynamic economy - every single day there are hundreds of jobs being destroyed, but there are hundreds more that are being created."
Arabian Business has repeatedly asked the Dubai Ministry of Interior Naturalisation & Residency during the past three weeks for clarification on the number of residency visas being cancelled versus the number being issued on a daily basis. However, as yet there has been no response.