So my friend Wilbur came to visit me from NYC recently. We were talking about expats brought up here and I said it seems just wrong that they are legally treated no differently from any other worker who comes here today. He said, why? Their parents came here with the understanding they are here to make money and one day will have to leave. I said, ok, but the kids didn’t have a choice in the matter. He said, fine, but that’s the parents’ problem, not the UAE government’s. Blame the parents.
My questions to him were, does the UAE have any responsibility to expats who have been here their whole lives, and who have come back/stayed to work (he says no). The other question was, is this short-sighted planning on the government’s part, to not give any recognition to a class of professional workers (I imagine nearly all of them are “white collar” as their parents had to have a certain income level to have kids here) who are perfectly happy to stay? Now, I’m no economist, but if there is an economic bust and they, as well as other shorter-term expats, leave, when the economy gets going again, who will come? Wilbur said, big deal, so they go. They’ll be replaced. This is of course a hypothetical question, but it has interesting implications. I hear many people complain about the difficulty of finding quality workers here; how much worse it might be in the future. What do you all think? Related to this, let's play the "what if" game: what if the government were to expand giving nationality (but not financial benefits) or some kind of permanent residence (like a US green card) to people who've been here a long time (say 20+ yrs, like expats brought up here from childhood). This would give them residential security, if nothing else. Do you think this would be an overall plus or a bad idea for this place?