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Study finds just three per cent of UAE residents over 54.

The UAE has a smaller percentage of older people than any other country, according to a new global study.

Only three per cent of residents are aged over 54, the lowest number from more than 50 countries sampled. The study was carried out by the economics department at Fordham University in New York using World Health Organisation statistics.

Researchers found the number of residents in the UAE aged 65 or older was categorised as being 'less than six per cent' of the total population, though the exact figure was not given. Only South Africa and Slovakia fell in the same category.

Several older residents told 7DAYS that they are not surprised by the study's findings, saying it is difficult for expats to get work visas after the age of 60. Elle Trow, who is in her 60s, is co-founder of the Helping Hands group, which aids the underprivileged, and she said she was not surprised by the findings.

"You have a very young Emirati population, and older expats are not allowed to stay. Some people I know who bought retirement property found themselves in a very difficult situation," she said.

"My husband has his own business, otherwise we would have been driven out too. There is little provision for older people to stay. Also the cost of living is so high - they only want high spenders and high earners to stay. Everyone else goes home."

Trow said that the young age range of the population can affect the social life of older residents. She added: "We have younger friends, but this is a very transient place. People our age tend to leave, while younger people stay for a few years and go."

7DAYS spoke to one older couple who are leaving next week. Regina Kalan, in her 60s and originally from the UK is busy packing for a move to Singapore with her husband.

"There is very little in the UAE for older people. We spent 13 years here and we are not one bit sorry to leave. You are expected to work hard and leave. When you're no longer of use, you have to go," she said. The Kalans now intend to work for a few years in Singapore before emigrating to Australia. However, it's not all bad news for the UAE's older residents. Some restaurants and retailers offer special offers to the over-65s, safe in the knowledge that there will be few takers.

Claypot restaurant in the Citymax Hotel in Bur Dubai is one such venue: on Thursday anyone over the age of 67 can eat for free, if accompanied by a paying customer, to celebrate the 67th anniversary of

Indian independence.

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Aug 14, 2013
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