The First Human Development Report of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Oct 21, 2013

Abu Dhabi -The Abu Dhabi Department of Economy and the United Nations Development Programme unveiled today the first Human Development Report of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi 2011/2012 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The event was attended by high level governmental representatives and officials including HE Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, H.E Maryam Al Roomi, Minister of social affairs, HE Dr. Saeed Al Shamsi, Assistant Foreign Minister for International Organisations, HE Nasser Ahmed Alsowaidi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED), Mr. Paolo Lembo, UAE United Nations Resident Coordinator, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative a.i., HE Mohammed Omar Abdullah, Undersecretary, Department of Economic Development (DED) Abu Dhabi, H.E. Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director General of ADEC, HE Fahad Saeed al Raqabani, Director General of ADCED, Mr.  Habiba Al Marashi, Chairperson EEG and President, UN Global Compact GCC Network in addition to a large number of ambassadors and members of the Diplomatic Corps in the UAE.


The Human Development Report of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi 2012/2011 is the first report issued by the emirate of Abu Dhabi showcasing its interest in human development in the context of the development plans and programs adopted. This report reflects the position of the accomplished human development throughout the past forty years covering education, health and standard of living.


The report reflects the wisdom and the confidence the leadership of Abu Dhabi enjoys to give this significant priority to building the human talents, and the optimal use of natural resources to shape the emirate as a global capital city. Moreover, the report provides an objective human development state’ dissertation and assessment, listing the positive and negative elements that affected the current findings.

Commenting on the launch, Mr. Paolo Lembo, UAE United Nations Resident Coordinator, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative a.i. mentioned:  “At the core of Abu Dhabi cultural heritage there is a moral commitment to value human life and respect individual freedoms, as best expressed by the ancient tales of early inhabitants of the area: a spirit that bears little record in academic texts but is firmly recorded in the memories of the ancient members of the community. It is this spirit that the first Abu Dhabi Human Development report wishes to celebrate and transmit to the new generation, to firmly anchor the vision of the future on the most noble values of their past”.

“We hope that the Human Development Report for the emirate of Abu Dhabi would be part of a series of regular reports, intending to widen its spread and frequently partaking it in the government and media circles, universities, schools, research centers and NGOs discussions and decisions”, he continued.

HE Nasser Ahmed Alsowaidi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED),  emphasized saying, “It must be noted that the goal of the authors of this report was not to prepare a theoretical, academic research paper, but to provide a living instrument to trigger the public debate and urges policy formulation and respond to people and government’ hopes in raising awareness among citizens on the challenges facing the emirate at a time of worldwide crisis”.

Dr. Mohammed bin Huwaidin, Associate Professor and Chair of Department of Political Science, UAE University, the Lead Author of the Abu Dhabi Human Development Report (ADHDR) said, “Undertaking the effort to compile this report, stems from the government's efforts to open a dialogue about the best practices and models of development aiming to enhance the growth of Abu Dhabi in the next decade. The report endeavors primarily to broaden the base of the national debate on human development beyond the traditional financial growth, amid diagnosing the current status of human development in Abu Dhabi through suggesting innovative policies to decision-makers in their quest to cast attention on reforms that will allow us to achieve development opportunities”.


The First Human Development Report for Abu Dhabi 2011/2012 Highlights:


The education index showed that the average years of schooling for groups of citizens and non-citizens and the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s total population fall within the average of first 42 countries that have been classified according to the Human Development Report 2010 with very high human development. This reflects the world sophisticated position of the emirate. Still, this is evidence of the learning regression compared to other countries’ human development due to the presence of large numbers of non-citizens with low levels of literacy. This is due to the preference ratio of citizens, especially males, who leave school in early stages to enroll in early labor.


The field of education saw developments quantity and quality significantly during the last forty years; it has increased the number of schools to reach to 489 public and private schools in 2010, up from a 146 schools in 1980, where the governmental schools formed the largest percentage of the total schools, reaching to 305 schools in 2010 compared to 184 private school.


Human Development

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is rated globally amongst the countries amongst the highest stage of human development according to the UNDP classification. With this classification, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is ranked 29 globally, along with the Republic of Slovenia, according to the Human Development Index. Abu Dhabi capital outshines the classification of the United Arab Emirates (32 worldwide). Whereas the capital is ranked 36 globally by according to the human development of the total population four times lower  from the standing classification of the United Arab Emirates. The value of this evidence is restricted to the population of non-citizens in the emirate stood at 0.760, where the capital of Abu Dhabi is globally ranked 53 amongst the countries with high human development.



The changes in the economic and social conditions, and growth of the population, and the internal migration of citizens from other emirates to work in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, led to increase the numbers of both employed and unemployed citizens, where the increased number of working citizens from 12 thousand in 1975, 96.0% of the national labor force, to about 93 thousand, 88.0% of the national labor force in 2010. Furthermore, the number of unemployed increased from about 450 in 1975, 4.0% of the national labor force, to about 12700 in 2010, 12.0% of the national labor force. As for non-citizens, it is expected that all foreigners are legally working with a under the sponsorship system in the United Arab Emirates. Overall, the rate of employed non-citizens forms about 98.0% of the labor force in all years; up from about 110 thousand in 1975 to more than one million in 2010. Thus, in 2010, the unemployment rates range to a ratio of 2% of the labor force. The number of unemployment increased from about 2,400 in 1975 to more than 26 thousand in 2010. Thus it appears that the rate of 2.0 per cent reflects almost a normal ratio among non-citizens in the emirate.


 The report estimates the rate unemployment among local citizens in the emirate in 2011 at about 11.6%, where it is at its highest in Al Ain area, 16%, followed by the area of Abu Dhabi, 9%, and West Abu Dhabi, 8%. It is worth noting that the unemployment rate is prominent among females, reaching 41.8 per cent compared with the rate of males, which is only 3.8%.


Economic development

The gross domestic product at current prices doubled for the capital of Abu Dhabi between 1975 and 2010 about 24 times;  increasing from 26 billion dirhams in 1975 to 620 billion dirhams in 2010, with an average annual growth rate of about 9.0 per cent. Excluding oil, non-oil GDP at current prices rose from around six billion dirhams in 1975 to more than 312 billion dirhams in 2010, where it doubled more than 55 times, or had an average annual growth rate of around 11.5% on average.

Nevertheless, the cost of living in the emirate in 2010 increased by about four times from the original cost in 1975; which means that the family who required around AED 1000 to spend on goods and services per month in 1975, required more than AED 4000 per month in 2010 to consume the same goods and services per month.


Comparing the adopted Abu Dhabi 2030 vision for growth, the annual average rate of growth in real GDP  between 2008 and 2010 was negative, -1.6% ; that is mainly due to the declining oil revenues in 2009. Although the oil revenues rose again in 2010, it did not reach the level that was prevailed in 2007. Therefore, it is necessary to achieve economy real growth of 12.2% average between 2011 and 2015, in order to compensate for this growth slowdown. The average growth target between 2010 and 2015 is 7%.  As for the growth in non-oil GDP, it stood at 3.2% a yeari between 2008 and 2010; about 6% less than expected. However lower oil revenues and the continued non-oil sectors growth, raised the degree of contribution to the GDP to 48% on average in this period, which is close to the ratio target in 2015.

Contact information

Sayed Aqa
UN Resident Coordinator
UNDP Resident Representative
United Nations Development programme
Tel:+971 2 6961902

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