Abu Dhabi population soars in 2005-2011

A surge in Abu Dhabi’s economy because of strong crude prices sharply boosted the population growth to rates reminiscent of that during the first oil boom more than three decades ago, according to official data.

The emirate’s population grew by an annual average of around 7.7 per cent during 2005-2011, far above the four per cent rate during 1995-2005 and the 5.2 per cent growth recorded during 1985-1995, the Abu Dhabi statistics bureau said.

But growth remained below the record high rate of 10.4 per cent during the first oil boom of 1975-1985, when a surge in oil exports allowed Abu Dhabi and other Gulf crude producers to launch one of the largest construction drives in history, resulting in a massive influx of expatriates in the absence of sufficient local skilled labour.

The report gave no reason for the high population growth in Abu Dhabi over the past six years but analysts attributed it to a sharp rise in crude prices, which pushed the emirate and neighboring Gulf countries into another boom.

A breakdown showed all the growth was in the expatriate population, which increased by an average 8.8 per cent annually during that period compared with 3.8 per cent during 1995-2005 and 5.3 per cent during 1985-1995. Growth in the expatriate population was as high as 10.6 per cent during 1975-1985.

The report showed growth in the native population slipped to 4.1 per cent during 2005-2011 from 4.6 per cent during 1995-2005 and 5.1 per cent during 1985-1995. The rate had hit an all time high of nearly 9.5 per cent during 1975-1985.

The report estimated Abu Dhabi’s total population at 2.12 million at the end of 2011 compared with 1.96 million at the end of 2010, about 1.82 million at the end of 2009 and nearly 1.37 million at the end of 2005.

It estimated expatriates at nearly 1.68 million and Emiratis at about 438,000 at the end of 2011, with nationals accounting for around 20 per cent of the total population.

Abu Dhabi’s economy, the largest in the UAE, leaped by around 14 per cent annually during 2005-2011, recording its biggest rise of 22.9 per cent in current prices in 2006.

The surge was mainly a result of a sharp rise in oil prices, which jumped to nearly $50 in 2005 from $36 in 2004. They climbed to an average $61 in 2006, to $69 in 2007 and as high as $94 in 2008. Prices dipped to $61 in 2009 in the wake of the global fiscal distress before they rebounded $77 in 2010 and a record high of $107 in 2011. The average is expected to break another record this year.