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Thu 7 Jul 2011 10:40 AM

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Abu Dhabi cuts expat jobs to trim costs, boost locals

Government's training schemes have readied more than 6,000 Emiratis for public sector jobs

Abu Dhabi cuts expat jobs to trim costs, boost locals
UAE nationals, UAE flags, UAE local people
Abu Dhabi cuts expat jobs to trim costs, boost locals
Abu Dhabi Investment Authority

Wealthy Gulf Arab emirate Abu Dhabi has laid off large numbers of foreign workers as it looks to lower costs and promote jobs for citizens, several people familiar with the matter said.

Hundreds more expatriate jobs could be on the line in the near future at Abu Dhabi government departments, two sources at the offices said, adding exact numbers are not available.

The capital of the UAE, the emirate is home to most of its oil wealth.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said Abu Dhabi's Emiratisation drive was being directed from the highest levels: the Executive Council, which is chaired by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahayan.

Sheikh Mohammed's brother and vice chair of the Executive Council, Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed al Nahayan - appointed in December in his first council role - is said to be overseeing the accelerated push.

A spokesman at the Executive Council General Secretariat was not immediately available for comment.

Workplaces affected so far include the Department of Transport, Abu Dhabi municipality, Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage (ADCH) and at least two government owned hospitals, among others.

One expatriate employee at the ADCH said 118 staff had been asked to leave within one to three months, including himself.

"The reason they've given is Emiratisation," he said, referring to the incentives and quota programme aimed at boosting national employment.

Abu Dhabi is in the midst of a strategic review across all government departments, to centralise fundraising and improve accountability in the public sector.

One Abu Dhabi-based analyst said in some cases, expatriate contracts were not being renewed to cut bulging salary budgets.

The UAE, like much of the Gulf region, depends on foreign workers to fill jobs at all levels of the economy, hampered by a small local population and lack of qualified candidates.

Foreign workers hold key positions running national airlines, real estate, financial services and the media industry, as well as strategic roles within national government.

There are 35,000 unemployed Emiratis in the UAE, and only seven percent of nationals work in the private sector, according to the Ministry of Economy.

Government training schemes have readied more than 6,000 Emiratis for the public sector, Sheikh Mohammed said in June, who urged government and state firms to find roles for them.

Labour Minister Saqr Gobash said in May that up to 20,000 Emirati private sector jobs a year need to be created in the next decade to allow school-leavers to enter the labour market.

"That was always the objective, to have a lean, efficient government and allowing the private sector to flourish," said an Abu Dhabi government official familiar with the matter.


Jammmmo 8 years ago

Emiratization is a great concept however the people have to be willing to work, which from my observations as a resident for 15 years, is to the contrary.

sonnydubai 8 years ago

Wouldn't it be awesome to be picked up at the airport by an Emirati cab driver, served food and drinks by an Emirati Waiter and watch Emiratis build their city.....there are more than enough jobs to go around if this new generation's thought process is changed.

Anonymous 8 years ago

Never the way, expats usually earn less than Emiratis so this plan is not saving money but instead probably going to costs the government more in salaries, benefits, etc., but there will be fewer unemployed Emiratis which is the ultimate goal.

Bobbie 8 years ago

It all starts with the family. Parents need to encourage their children to study and to study HARD to be able to compete for jobs. They should be instilled with a desire to work for their country and to realize that not everyone can be a manager or highly paid professional. People need to realize that its okay to work for a living. Good luck with that.

Red Snappa 8 years ago

I understand that it is part of the new social order to create opportunities for unemployed Emiratis to work, as well as provide them with accessible social housing. The number of public sector housing schemes is increasing.

However, my question is, one of the key fundamentals behind making the private sale property sector work leasehold or freehold work was an increasing population, which apart from the national birth rate has to rely on an influx of expatriates.

As the administration reduce the foreign employee count does this not also reduce the pool of tenants available to rent living accommodation. Therefore from an investor perspective the anticipated rental return from any property transactions will continue to reduce?

kumdhar 8 years ago

Absolutely correct.

Aseel 8 years ago

Emiratis are overpaid for the work they do in government jobs. This results that most locals choose to work for high salary jobs only. Whith a normal salary more emaratis could be employed for the same spending and living prices would stabilize. There is a lack of discipline and appreciation not wanting to work for a lower salary or positions, choosing mostly the easy way. I wish for the new generation to remember where they came from and to start to appreciate for what they have. Value your identity. It works in Oman!

Evan 8 years ago

Emiratization is bound to happen. Emiratis are highly educated and given the opportunity they will outshine and outperform their expatriate counterparts, but unfortunately Emiratis are being all the more marginalised and discriminated against at work and the only solution is to implement a quota system. If a quota system is not implemented, the Emiratis will never be allowed to grow and develop and serve their country.
Also I don’t expect the Emiratis to build their skyscrapers or clean their roads because we know who do these menial jobs in Europe and USA, it is either the Asians or East Europeans or Mexicans so let us stop harping the same monotonous tune. The UAE belongs to the Emiratis only, as much as India belongs to Indians and Pakistan to Pakistanis. Let us not grudge them what is rightfully theirs and let us stop feign worrying about the Emiratis fate once the expats leave, the UAE can take care of itself, let us worry about our respective countries, please.

tony 8 years ago

As far as the comment Evan goes, well I have seen enough Germans driving cabs, waiting at tables and picking up trash in Germany. And guess what, nobody looks down upon them! Hell there are even German construction workers (bauarbeiter!).

Ferdinand Marcos 8 years ago

Your comment is out of this world...

The Emirates for the Emiratis... Fine!

How about only Emiratis as tourists and passengers on Emirates planes?

If you would understand the full impact of your thinking you would regret at the same moment!