Exploring Identity Construction amongst Upper Middle Class Second-Generation Indian Immigrants in Dubai

Malaika Naik
Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts


Globalization, as a phenomenon, has been greatly beneficial to the United Arab Emirates and has brought the country significant economic prosperity. This, in turn, has encouraged a pattern of mass migration from several neighbouring countries, with India becoming the largest exporter of immigrants. While several researchers have delved into the working conditions and political scenario that surround the Indian immigrant workforce that reside in UAE, none have paid attention to the second-generation of these immigrants. This paper attempts to look at this second-generation and their process of identity construction. More specifically, the study tries to understand how members of this second-generation struggle to identify themselves in a political environment that does not permit them the possibility of naturalizing into citizens, and their native country, India does not accept them to be culturally, truly Indian. The study will outline aspects of the second-generation migrants’ lives, in Dubai, UAE, that have contributed to the construction of their unique identity in a complicated political environment. To do so, the study employs semi-structured interviews to understand how deeply these second-generation migrants identify themselves as Indian. Additionally, the study explores if their ‘Indian-ness’ is sufficient to both themselves as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and their native peers. Finally, the study delves into understanding how this second-generation has come to view their political identities as Indians who grew up away from their native India, and have also not naturalized into citizens of another country.

Keywords: Globalization, Identity, Second-generation Immigrants, Dubai, Transnationalism