DUBAI (AFP) – Some foreign workers holding low-paid jobs in the United Arab Emirates will be banned from bringing over their families to the Gulf state under new visa regulations, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
Cooks, bakers, waiters, tailors and make-up artists are among 57 occupations who are considered to earn too little to sustain residency fees for their families, The National said quoting a top official.
Nasser al-Minhali, acting director of the Naturalisation and Residency Department, told the English-language newspaper that the decision was aimed at curbing the growing number of people who break visa laws.
“Ninety percent of the banned professions do not fit the naturalisation and residency laws anyway,” Minhali was quoted as saying.
“I understand everyone wants their family to be close to them but I have a responsibility to fight violators,” he said.
More than 25,000 illegal immigrants have been arrested in the oil-rich Gulf state since November 2007, Minhali said, adding that residency rules have been revised for expats.
Foreigners comprise 86 percent of the UAE’s population of 6.4 million, with hundreds of thousands in low-paid jobs. The living and working conditions of migrant workers have often been criticised by rights groups.
A study published last month found that 87 percent of the foreign workforce comes from Asia, while only 900,000 nationals were living in the country — raising concerns that unemployment among UAE nationals will rise.