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Wed 21 May 2008 09:51 AM

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Dubai leads British exodus overseas

British expatriate population in UAE has doubled to 120,000 in last two years, embassy says.

The British community of expatriates in the UAE and Dubai are at the head of an exodus of two million from the UK in the last decade.

The population of British expatriates in the UAE has doubled in to about 120,000 residents this year, compared to 60,000 residents in 2006, according to statistics compiled from the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS), the British Embassy in the UAE, British broadcaster the BBC and British public policy think tank IIPR.

The UAE has the world's fastest growing community of British expatriates, according to the statistics.

Dubai accounts for the bulk of the British expatriate community, estimated at 100,000 people, embassy officials told ArabianBusiness.com.

Historians say the emigration of two million British citizens in the last decade is almost unparalleled in the country's history.

The last comparable exodus from the UK came between 1911 and 1914, when 2.4 million people left Britain, according to figures by Jay Winter of Yale University.

The other significant spike in emigration came in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when thousands of Britons left to start new lives in Australia, Canada and the US.

The population and migration figures for the UK in 2006, published by the ONS, reveal 200,000 British citizens left the UK in 2006, which was the highest estimate of emigration since the method of counting was introduced in 1991.

Two-third of British citizens in the group who left the UK were heading for five countries - nearly a third went to live in Australia or New Zealand, just under a quarter went to Spain or France, and eight in every 100 went to live in the US.

According to figures for 2006, there were 1.3 million British emigrating to Australia, around 800,000 emigrating to Spain and around 700,000 to the USA.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia had a population of 30,000 British expatriates in 2006 compared to Egypt's 14,000.

Whilst there has been an exodus of Britons leaving the UK, record numbers of immigrants have come to the country.

An estimated 591,000 people came to Britain, resulting in net immigration in 2006 running at 191,000.

Paul 11 years ago

And the way things are going here, with taxation, Salik and rents, we will be leaving the UAE in as great a number pretty soon too!

NZ 11 years ago

And go where??

Saeed Al Ahmed 11 years ago

Salik or Rent will not be the biggest tax on all residents. The ever increasing cost of utilities, water, and food cost will drive people out. However, there will be always people coming and going. Dubai or surrounding places will always have residents who will only do short times here. This may be good as a business but has drastic effect on the cultural identity of the area. It has already lost the identity, in matter of years it will be totally lost in TRANSIT.....

Paul 11 years ago

Simple. Anywhere that if we pay taxes, we get something back. Like a health service or subsidised public transport or the right to own our own homes. Most expats don't mind that the standards in the UAE are lower because they don't have to pay taxes (officially), but if they get charged for things and don't get any of the benefits, they'll just leave. No taxation without representation and all that. By all means, put Emiratis first, it's their country and it is absolutely good and right that the government here looks after its people. But I doubt any expat wants to pay any more for it without receiving some sort of incentive. The standard of living in the UAE really isn't that much higher than anywhere else in North America, Europe and Australia - all of which are places which not only attract British expats, but also tend to keep them.

John 11 years ago

Yes we British seem in danger of becoming the new Israelites, seeking a homeland. It isn't a coincidence that this wave of emigration has come at a time of record immigration into the UK, as the last wave coincided with the huge influx of West Africans in the 1950's and 60's (encouraged by the Government of the time). There is a huge feeling of resentment in the indigenous community (which ironically now includes 'first generation immigrants from 40-50 years ago) at the resources squandered on newcomers. How many handouts did you get from the UAE Rulers when you decided to come to Dubai to start a new life, and how much did you expect? They have it right.

scc 11 years ago

Here we go again. This relentless Dubai spin threatens to obscure any relevant factual headline from showing its face again. Dubai is not at the head of an expat exodus from the UK. The major beneficiaries, if that is the word, are and always were Australia and Spain. If indeed the UAE has seen an increase of 60k British emigrants, then that represents 3% of the presumed exodus, which seems to me to be relevant but not significant. Most estimates of the size of the British community in the UAE even in 2005 put the size at somewhere north of 100k, as witnessed at the time by comments from the British consulate, the British Business Group and from publications as diverse as the Daily Telegraph, The Asia Times and the Far Left Review So apparently that was nonsense and only now in 2008 are there as many as 100k British in Dubai alone. Given that Dubai saw net immigration of 100k in 2007 across the board according to Dubai Statistics Dept, are we to believe perhaps that half of them came from Britain? Why not, if it's all good PR. Eat your heart out New Labour, this is what I call spin.

John 11 years ago

LOL at scc's post. True, but when did you ever expect accurate statistics to be rubber stamped in this region for public consumption? By the way I believe it only reached 34 degrees C in Dubai this week!