But Dr. Fayez Elessawy, a researcher at UAE University (UAEU), who led the research told UAE daily Gulf News, the growth was due to immigration and not natural growth.
Elessawy said the Dubai-focused research showed that the city had seen a “rapid transformation” adding that the population of non-nationals had increased from 132,371 in 1975 to more than 2.1 million in 2015.
“The study also found that Dubai has one of the highest annual jumps in population with a 6.5 percent growth rate from 2005 to 2015 when it reached 2.1 million,” Elessawy explained. “If the numbers remain that way, the population of Dubai will more than double by 2027, reaching around five million.”
But while he acknowledged a significant growth in the expat population, there had been a serious decline in natural growth.
“The natural increase in population has declined sharply from 26.2 per 1,000 people in 1985 to 12.1 per 1,000 people in 2015,” he said.
“These declining and low rates make it impossible for natural increase to be responsible for the great increase in the population of Dubai. It is a secondary factor compared to the flow of immigration.”
But Elessawy praised Government of Dubai’s planning, saying that it enabled the city to cope with the rapid population growth. But he added that if the population reached five million the city be faced with challenges.
“There has been a great wisdom with the Government of Dubai: they built the infrastructure and facilities to be able to cope with the rising number of people and so, because of these newcomers, Dubai didn’t suffer from problems.”
He said Dubai was still growing because it was attractive to expats to build their future.
And Elessawy said the geographical size of the city had also grown to cope with the rising population.
“The total [built-up] area of Dubai was 54 sq. km in 1975, which grew to 977 sq. km in 2015, and this means that there has also been a great urban expansion as well.”
He said there had also been significant growth in the northern Emirates of Sharjah and Ajman. He explained that both cities had seen an influx of people who worked in Dubai, but chose to commute.