Promoting Diversity, Branding the State: Migrant-Friendly Discourses in the United Arab Emirates

  • Koji HorinukiEmail author
Part of the Asia in Transition book series (AT, volume 8)


This chapter examines the recent emergence of ‘migrant-friendly discourses’ in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Although the UAE plays host to a large number of foreign workers, there have been relatively few social integration policies aimed at aiding migrants to assimilate into its close-knit society. The UAE’s migration policies were thus seen as highly exclusive and unfriendly to the migrant community. However, in the late 2000s, stylised expressions that promoted a greater sense of tolerance, peace and harmony began to emerge and focused on the cultural diversity of the UAE in a favourable manner. The chapter examines the reasons why the UAE has prioritised employing such kinds of discourse. The analysis suggests that migrant-friendly branding is used for framing the state in a positive light, which is very important in attracting more foreign workers into the country.


United Arab Emirates Migrant-friendly discourses Branding International reputation Migration 


  1. Abu Dhabi Executive Council. 2007. Policy agenda 2007–2008: The Emirate of Abu Dhabi.Google Scholar
  2. Abu Dhabi, Government of. 2007. Highlights Dubai strategic plan (2015). Accessed 9 Dec 2009.
  3. Abu Dhabi, Government of. 2008. The Abu Dhabi economic vision 2030. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  4. Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre. 2011. Statistical yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2011. Abu Dhabi: SCAD.Google Scholar
  5. Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre. 2012. Statistical yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2012. Abu Dhabi: SCAD.Google Scholar
  6. Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre. 2013. Statistical yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2013. Abu Dhabi: SCAD.Google Scholar
  7. Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre. 2014. Statistical yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2014. Abu Dhabi: SCAD.Google Scholar
  8. Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre. 2015. Statistical yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2015. Abu Dhabi: SCAD.Google Scholar
  9. Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre. 2016. Statistical yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2016. Abu Dhabi: SCAD.Google Scholar
  10. Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre. 2017. Statistical yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2017. Abu Dhabi: SCAD.Google Scholar
  11. Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre. 2018. Statistical yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2018. Abu Dhabi: SCAD.Google Scholar
  12. Ahmad, Anwar. 2015. National Day’s ‘unsung heroes’ take to the streets to clean rubbish left behind after celebrations. The National, 3 December. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  13. Ali’s Film. 2012. EXPO 2020 Dubai Candidate City Bid Film. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  14. Almazroui, Ayesha. 2012. Emirati women and workforce in a clash of culture. The National, 19 May. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  15. Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. 2016. Gulf Societies in transition: National identity and national projects in the Arab Gulf states. Workshop Report. 10 June.Google Scholar
  16. Arabian Business. 2013. Qatar a ‘21st century slave state’—Trade union boss. 11 February.–21st-century-slave-state-trade-union-boss-488994.html. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  17. Arabian Business. 2015. UAE cancels 6 months work ban. 27 December. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  18. Crown Prince Court. 2018. UAE public policy. Webpage of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  19. Dito, Mohammed. 2015. Kafala: Foundations of migrant exclusion in GCC labour markets. In Transit states: Labour, migration and citizenship in the Gulf, ed. Abdulhadi Khalaf, Omar AlShehabi, and Adam Hanieh, 79–100. London: Pluto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dubai PR Network. 2015. Opening address: His excellency Ali Majed Al Mansoori during the opening plenary of the world economic forum’s summit on the global agenda 2015. 27 October. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  21. Dubai Statistics Centre. 2015. Number of population estimated by nationality—Emirate of Dubai (2013–2015).Google Scholar
  22. Dubai Statistics Centre. 2017. Number of population estimated by nationality—Emirate of Dubai (2015–2017). Accessed 15 Dec 2018.
  23. European Parliament. 2012. Human rights situation in the United Arab Emirates. P7_TA-PROV(2012)0400. 26 October. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  24. Gulf News. 2016. UAE publishes first annual worker welfare report. 7 May. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  25. Haines, Chad. 2011. Cracks in the façade: Landscapes of hope and desire in Dubai. In Worlding cities: Asian experiments and the art of being global, ed. Ananya Roy and Aihwa Ong, 160–181. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harroff-Tavel, Hélène, and Alix Nasri. 2013. Tricked and trapped: Human trafficking in the Middle East. Geneva: International Labour Organisation.Google Scholar
  27. Horinuki, Koji. 2010. The dynamics of human flow, control, and problems in the United Arab Emirates: The relationship between labour-sending and receiving countries in 2000s. Paper presented at the 2010 Exeter Gulf Studies Conference, Exeter, 30 June–3 July.Google Scholar
  28. Horinuki, Koji. 2011. Arabu Shuchoukoku renpou ni okeru Kokka Un’ei to Shakai Henyou: ‘kokumin mainoriti kokka’ no keisei to hatten [State administration and social transformation in the United Arab Emirates: Formation of a ‘national-minority state’ and its development]. PhD dissertation, Kyoto University.Google Scholar
  29. Hosoda, Naomi. 2013. Kabayan solidarity? Filipino communities and class relations in United Arab Emirates cities. Journal of Arabian Studies 3 (1): 18–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Human Rights Watch. 2006. Building towers, cheating workers: Exploitation of migrant construction workers in the United Arab Emirates. New York: Human Rights Watch. Accessed 22 Dec 2018.
  31. Human Rights Watch. 2009. “The Island of Happiness”: Exploitation of Migrant Workers on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi. New York: Human Rights Watch. Accessed 22 Dec 2018.
  32. Kapiszewski, Andrzej. 2001. National and expatriates: Population and labour dilemmas of the GCC states. Reading: Ithaca Press.Google Scholar
  33. Khalaf, Abdulhadi. 2015. The politics of migration. In Transit states: Labour, migration and citizenship in the Gulf, ed. Abdulhadi Khalaf, Omar AlShehabi, and Adam Hanieh, 39–56. London: Pluto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Koch, Natalie. 2015. Is nationalism just for nationals? Civic nationalism for noncitizens and celebrating National Day in Qatar and the UAE. Political Geography 54 (1): 43–53.Google Scholar
  35. Malit Jr, Froilan T., and Ali Al Youha. 2013. Labor migration in the United Arab Emirates: Challenges and responses. Migration Policy Institute, 18 September. Accessed 20 Dec 2018.
  36. National, The. 2012. Tailoring a dress code to the UAE would be a struggle. 14 June. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  37. Partrick, Neil. 2009. Nationalism in the Gulf States. Research Paper No. 5, Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States, London School of Economics and Political Science, October.Google Scholar
  38. Peterson, J.E. 2006. Qatar and the world: Branding for a micro-state. Middle East Journal 60 (4): 732–748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Remo-Listana, Karen, and Emma Procter. 2012. Missing out? Majority of expats confess to lack of UAE knowledge of local customs and traditions. 999: Security and Safety for All 14–18 Feb.Google Scholar
  40. United Arab Emirates, Government of. 2011. UAE vision 2021: United in ambition and determination. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  41. United Arab Emirates, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation [MOFA]. 2018. The UAE and human rights. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  42. United Arab Emirates, Supreme Council for National Security [SCNC]. 2016. Major General Khamis Al Mazeina to Taware’e wa Azamat: There is no organized crime in the UAE Dubai is a multicultural city with more than 200 nationalities, living in peace and harmony. 10 April. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  43. United Nations. 2017. International migration report 2017. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  44. Vora, Neha, and Natalie Koch. 2015. Everyday inclusions: Rethinking ethnocracy, kafala, and belonging in the Arabian Peninsula. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 15 (3): 540–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat [WAM]. 2008a. Al Oweis [sic] addresses First Alliance of Civilisations. 16 January. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  46. Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat [WAM]. 2008b. UAE is keen on tracking human rights issues head on: Gargash. 4 December. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  47. Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat [WAM]. 2014a. UAE researcher: International campaign must have a common vision to combat terrorism. 19 October. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  48. Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat [WAM]. 2014b. Abdullah bin Zayed statement on the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of UAE National Day, 1st Add. 1 December. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  49. Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat [WAM]. 2015a. Nahyan bin Mubarak: UAE is keen to consolidate values of tolerance, moderation and respect for religions. 4 February. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  50. Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat [WAM]. 2015b. UAE reaffirms commitment to upholding rights of ethnic and religious groups in the Middle East at UN Security Council debate. 29 March. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  51. Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat [WAM]. 2015c. MoL marks Labour Day with 10-day celebrations organised for workers. 29 April. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  52. Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat [WAM]. 2015d. UAE issues law against hate crimes and discrimination. 20 July. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  53. Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat [WAM]. 2016a. 10,000 workers observe International Workers’ Day in 7 locations in Abu Dhabi. 29 April. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  54. Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat [WAM]. 2016b. Mohamed bin Zayed: Islamic world is one of the biggest victims of terrorism and extremism. 15 September. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  55. Walk Free Foundation. 2018. Global slavery index 2018. Accessed 9 Dec 2018.
  56. Walker, Lesley. 2014. Qatar, UAE under fire for PR tactics over 2022 and Islamist backing. Doha News, 28 September.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.JIME Centre, The Institute of Energy Economics, JapanTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations