About 80% of the UAE's population originates from outside its borders. In the early 1980s, the government took steps to reduce the immigration rate by limiting the number of visas issued to foreign workers.
In 2000, there were some 1,922,000 migrants living in the United Arab Emirates. This includes the small number of refugees. The net migration rate for that year was 8.1 migrants per 1,000 population, a considerable drop from 15.0 migrants per 1,000 in 1990. The government views the immigration level as too high, but the emigration level as satisfactory.