‘We’re not like the newbies’: belonging among Dubai’s long-term residents

Rana AlMutawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this research on middle-class, long-term residents of Dubai, I explore how long-term residents experience belonging and exclusion in a country where they cannot legally be permanent. I first argue that my interlocutors express belonging through accumulated knowledge, memories and familiarity with the UAE in contrast to their own countries, as well as through contrasting themselves to newly arrived residents who know little about the UAE. In doing so, long-term residents use expressions of belonging and an exclusionary rhetoric similar to the one Emiratis use. However, despite this connection and affinity, my interlocutors feel that they are seen just as any other short-term resident. There is no legal status that distinguishes them from newcomers, no form of dress (such as the national dress) that marks their belonging, nor a visible or recognised category that differentiates them, which highlights the limits of belonging in these Gulf states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-558
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024


  • belonging
  • Citizenship
  • UAE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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