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Title: 'Dubai is a transit lounge' : migration, belonging and national identity in Pakistani professionals in the UAE
Author: Errichiello, Gennaro
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 8574
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2018
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The thesis is a study of migration and its links to belonging, class, national identity and recognition in United Arab Emirates (UAE) federation. It focuses on Pakistani migrants, especially Pakistani professionals in Dubai, which is the second largest Emirate of the UAE because of its territorial extension and economic production (Davidson, 2008a). It is not only an empirical study but also partly a conceptual and analytical treatise on migration in the GCC countries. By comparing the extant literature on migration in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the findings of my own field research, I argue the need to move beyond concepts such as belonging despite exclusion (Vora, 2013), citizenship as belonging (Vora & Kock, 2015) and nationalism for nationals (Kock, 2015), which have dominated the literature on migration in this region, to better grasp that belonging, class and national identity are contested and situational. Dubai as a transit lounge is an expression used by one of my Pakistani participants to describe the dynamic nature of the city. But more than that, it was used to emphasize that foreign workers life in the emirate is characterized by temporariness. The UAE authorities have categorized people through the citizenship law (no. 17, 1972) in Emiratis and non-Emiratis by conceiving of them as two distinct categories. In my view, this might be interpreted as a fracture between two groups of individuals. In particular, non-Emiratis have been considered and represented in the literature as a monolithic group (Mahdavi, 2011), as disempowered individuals and, especially low-wage migrants, as victims of the market economy over which they cannot wield any control (Kathiravelu, 2016). The extant literature on migration in the GCC countries has portrayed the image of foreign communities in which the role of human agency in the migration experience is underestimated. Starting from the historical evolution of migration in the Arab Gulf region and the links with African and Asian countries, which have contributed towards shaping the ethnic diversity of the UAE and the GCC countries, my research focuses on the presence of Pakistani migrant professionals in Dubai in order to understand the development of migration in the Emirate; the role and importance of the Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) in contributing towards determining belonging; and therefore how migration affects the Emirati national identity. This thesis challenges the extant literature on migration in the Arab Gulf region by questioning the dichotomy between nationals and non-nationals as two reciprocally-exclusive categories. Instead, it argues the need to look at inter and intra dynamics that take place in the field between the two groups in order to understand how their relations are constructed. It is thus important to consider social interactions between nationals and non-nationals because individuals occupy contradictory and multi-layered locations, spaces and social categories (Yuval-Davis, 2011; Anthias, 2015). This reasoning stems from my historical analysis of ethnic composition and social stratification in the Gulf port cities, especially Dubai, where the coexistence of different ethnic groups resulted from economic exchanges and intermarriages with people coming from African and Asian countries, which in turn contributed towards shaping the ethnic diversity of the region. For example, the construction of belonging cannot be grasped only by looking at non-nationals as an isolated category (Koch, 2015) but it has to be analysed and discussed in relation to others . As such, it is important to consider the role played by migrants and their ethno-national migrant associations in forging the discourse on the Emirati national identity. Migrants, through civic engagement and their participation in the Emirati public sphere, contribute towards strengthening Emirati national identity via their sense of belonging to the country and their agential capacity (e. g. migrant organizations).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Loughborough University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Migration ; Belonging ; National identity ; Recognition ; Middle class ; United Arab Emirates ; Pakistan ; Dubai