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Tue 12 Feb 2013 10:47 AM

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Dubai ruler presses private sector to hire Emiratis

UAE is currently outlining new project to help employ up to 120,000 of its citizens

Dubai ruler presses private sector to hire Emiratis
United Arab Emirates Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (AFP/Getty Images).

The UAE's private sector has "benefited greatly" from the country's rapid growth and as a result should do more to employ Emirati citizens, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, said.

“I call on my colleagues in the private sector that have benefited greatly from this country to extend a helping hand in the process of Emiratisation, even in a tiny percentage, to make a contribution to growth of this country,” Sheikh Mohammed said in a question and answer session at a government conference in Dubai.

Speaking at the launch of the Government Summit, the first event of its kind in the Middle East, Sheikh Mohammed revealed plans for a project to employ 120,000 UAE nationals, but did not give any further details of the timeline or specifics.

The Dubai ruler, who is also vice president of the oil-rich UAE, last year declared 2013 the ‘Year of Emiratisation’. As part of the initiative, events will be held to offer “opportunities for young Emiratis seeking to join the UAE labour force”.

Emiratis only constitute about 11 percent of the UAE's population and are heavily outnumbered by foreign nationals. The majority of UAE nationals are employed by government entities, with the official unemployment rate among Emiratis put at 14 percent.

Emiratisation is the UAE government's policy of increasing the number of UAE nationals working in both the public and private sector.

In his speech, Sheikh Mohammed praised the work of Emiratis in the UAE government.

“Government employees are the engines of our achievements. They are the energy that fuels our development. I encourage them to keep on working with excellence and innovation. I am calling on all our employees to focus on acquiring knowledge and the right training needed to serve our country. Our employees need a competitive work environment where they should be supported, recognised and handed authority that allows them to perform better,” he said.

In an earlier discussion, Jennifer Blanke, Chief Economist and Head of The Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network at the World Economic Forum, said the UAE and governments in the region needed to do more to encourage locals to enter the private sector and develop a culture of entrepreneurship.

“It is still too attractive to work for the government,” Blanke said. “I am not saying you don’t want to have good people working in the government but it needs to be attractive to be able to set up your own business.

“This is not just a problem in the Middle East; it is a problem in many countries. Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship is very important.”

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Ahmed 7 years ago

The GCC needs to start limiting foreign worker employment in certain sectors of the society in order to restructure their economies which will increase growth potential income steadily among locals. This change could aim to build a more inclusive society by generating resources to ensure GCC nationals get a fair share of the economic pie and would allow GCC economies to grow on the basis of skills, innovation and productivity. GCC governments might want to raise their research and development spending, establish export-import bank loans to small and medium companies and raise the fees companies must pay to bring in foreign workers. I am encouraging that the flood gates closed and to hire foreign labor with the correct skill set in limited sectors. When I go to the government ministries, I DON'T want to deal with foreigners, but Emiritis - typing centers need to be overhauled. Dubai has become a safe haven and it does not always work in the best interest of Emiritis.

sam 7 years ago

The problem isn't so much as private sector not ready to employ Emiratis. On the contrary, Emiratis prefer not to work in the private sector and they cannot be blamed for that. If the government forces the private sector to make it compulsory 5 day work week and align the public and private sector holidays then they will surely have no issues working in the private sector.

Business Man 7 years ago

One wouldnt be mistaken into thinking low skilled jobs are falsely created.
Theres a fine example at Sharjah Airport where a queue is caused by the guy checking your passport immediately AFTER Immigration !!!

DRoller 7 years ago

Ahmed, your suggestions are hugely flawed. Whichever way you cut it, without expatriates creating a local economy, especially in the UAE (which is what, 90% expat??), all you have left is a diminished export market. No oil. Tourism would disappear as the WHOLE market is supported by expats and your banking market would disappear too for the same reason. Then Emiratis can have ALL the jobs, and also have about 70% unemployment. How does that sound?
The solution is as telcoguy suggests - innovation & education. Id also add cultural evolution. The UAE does not innovate. Not many GCC nations do. there is a culture of 'buying' skills/experience/technology etc etc. its quicker and easier than learning and evolving and they have the cash to buy what they want. there is a work ethic issue too. emiratis, in my experience, lack a work ethic that exists in most western societies. mainly due to the fact that the government funds and subsidises emirati lives in full. creates a negative effect

Oldtimer 7 years ago

UAE has a very long way to go before it has the required skills & educational qualifications in its citizens to drive its economy forward. Any company that needs to compete with other firms to survive and excel in an open economy, quality, efficiency & competence are absolute requirements. Just generating employment for locals is actually quite easy, but that does not do the country any good in the long term. Now we have a lot of unnecessary processes (red-tape) in government transactions mainly introduced to generate low-skilled jobs for locals; such 'quick fix' solutions are not the answer. Many private and semi-private firm hire locals for highly visible front (desk) jobs while the real hard work is done in the back office by expats working long extra shifts. Locals are hired only because of the govt compulsions and not for productivity reasons. This financial loss is actually factored into their their balance sheets. I cannot obviously generalize, but this is true in most cases.

Sam 7 years ago

Three issues why I would NEVER hire a local if I had a business in Dubai:
1) Almost every local wants to be a "manager" and they consider themselves superior to the everyone else;
2) The comfy cushion provided by the state ensures that locals' productivity is near zero;
3) What is the Government doing to help local businesses? Why should I do the Government a favor? This is business - not personal. I wont and should not do u a favor if u r not doing me one. To say Dubai is tax free - is becoming a joke cos so many indirect costs are worse than taxes often. I don't pay income tax if I make a loss in most jurisdictions..in Dubai I STILL HAVE to pay the "indirect taxes", fees, costs, etc weather I make a million, or loose a million.

No fair by ANY stretch of the imagination...so sorry, but u aint getting any favors from me...

Jim Gilchrist CAES 7 years ago

The key is to develop mangerial capability. Strong managers attract talented people, they develop their personnel, they retain the right people, they increase the productivity of their organizations / departments and they facilitate organizational growth. The challenge, globally, is to develop, retain and support capable managers. Those who do, whether in larger organizations or SME's, will not only benefit economically, they will contribute to local population employment initiatives because strong managers create jobs.

michael 7 years ago

Ahmed I can see you working at a typing center..oh wait, it is EmirAti not Emiriti :-)

Tarek 7 years ago

@Sam I am afraid it is not only about public holidays and weekends. The pay and benefits in the government are also higher; there are also the issues of job security, work load, and prestige. The GCC governments created a public sector that doesn't belong to this world in terms of inefficiency from one hand, and the ridiculously high salaries and benefits from the other hand. No private for profit organization can compete with that!

Andy 7 years ago

Some massive censorship taking place here these days lol.. They must have hired new local staff at Arabianbusiness lol.