Aberdeen is recognised as being Scotland’s most international city

Adrian Watson outside the Tivioli Theatre, Guild Street, Aberdeen. 
Picture by Jim Irvine.
Adrian Watson outside the Tivioli Theatre, Guild Street, Aberdeen. Picture by Jim Irvine.

Aberdeen has been confirmed as Scotland’s most international city, with nearly a fifth of residents born outside the UK.

New statistics from the National Registers of Scotland show that, last year, 17% of the city’s more than 200,000 residents were non-British nationals.

This compares with 16% in Edinburgh and 13% in Glasgow while rural areas had significantly lower proportions.

In the last 40 years, the city’s heavy reliance on the oil and gas industry has attracted overseas workers and their families to the city.

But critics last night raised fears that international workers were being put off from starting life in the Granite City due to Brexit uncertainty.

The report stated: “In 2018, the council area with the highest proportion of its residents who were non-British nationals was Aberdeen City (17%).

“This was higher than the Scottish average of 7%.”

Lord Provost Barney Crockett responded that, despite the oil and gas industry downturn, he expected the international profile of the city to grow in coming years.

He said: “Aberdeen is possibly the most international city in the UK outside of London with more than 1,000 businesses from across the world set up here.

“I think we’ve shown it is a great place to do business and a great place to live and work.

“There has been a perception of the city that perhaps doesn’t match the reality, but we have been working hard and people are beginning to think differently about the city.”

Aberdeen Central SNP MSP Kevin Stewart is convinced that more immigrants will be required in the years ahead.

He said: “Aberdeen will be the city hardest hit by Brexit and last year was a real wake-up call when we saw National Insurance registrations by overseas workers fall by 43%.

“Without inward migration, our working-age population will decline, meaning it will be harder to fund vital public services – we are on a Brexit cliff edge and it’s absolutely clear Scotland must have power over immigration to match our economic ambition.”

Adrian Watson, chief executive of the city centre business body Aberdeen Inspired, said: “Employment is still relatively strong and we have a glowing hospitality and tourism sector, along with two strong universities and North East Scotland College, all of which are a pull.”