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Impossible Citizens: Dubai’s India Diaspora


Institute For Middle East Studies

Although the legal status of foreign residents in the UAE defines them as outsiders, Dr. Vora argues that Indians in Dubai are integral to the building and maintenance of Emirati state institutions, to national identity and citizenship, and to the functioning of Dubai’s liberalized and globalized market forms. While many Indians disavow belonging to Dubai they stake certain historical, cultural, and geographic claims to the city. Impossible Citizens examines the conflicting and multiple narratives and practices of belonging and citizenship experienced by Dubai’s Indian population, exploring the multiple logics of citizenship and governance that circulate within Dubai among its various residents, institutions, and spaces.


  • Dr. Neha Vora is Assistant Professor of anthropology at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. Her research focuses on forms of citizenship, belonging, and exclusion within the contemporary Gulf Arab States. In particular, she explores how economic, political, and social changes in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar shape the daily experiences of the region’s diverse residents, particularly South Asian migrants, who comprise the majority of the population in both countries.