Top banker urges UAE to relax visa rules to help workers find new jobs

CEO of Standard Chartered UAE says the relaxing of the rules would help help good workers in the emirates
Top banker urges UAE to relax visa rules to help workers find new jobs
Rola Abu Manneh, CEO of Standard Chartered UAE.
By Shane McGinley
Thu 21 Mar 2019 02:18 PM

Workers in the United Arab Emirates should be allowed up to six months to find a new job before they are required to leave the country, a senior banking executive in the region has said.

"In order to attract talent globally, visa regulations have to be relaxed more so people can switch from one job to another and they don't have to leave the country. They should be given 6 months visa extensions to get a new jobs,” Rola Abu Manneh, CEO of Standard Chartered UAE, said in a panel discussion hosted in Dubai by the Oxford Business Group (OBG).

“It is key to attracting talent and keeping human and financial capital strong because the country's population is just over 9 million," she added.

At present workers who resign or are made redundant typically have a month to find a new job before they are required to leave the emirates.

Some workers do leave and re-enter the counter on a 90 day tourist visa while looking for new employment.

Last year, in a range of new visa regulations announced, a six month jobseeker visa was introduced. However, officials told the Khaleej Times newspaper in January that this was only for workers who had remained in the country after their visas had expired. The amnesty for violators ended on December 31 last year.

“Only those who committed visa violations before August 1 were granted that option. The visa scheme neither includes visa violators after the mentioned date nor unemployed residents seeking a new job," an official was quoted as saying in the Khaleej Times report.

Amir Reza, founder of Harmony Connections, a boutique recruitment firm, agreed with the Standard Chartered boss’ call to relax the visa laws to allow jobseekers more time to find alternative employment.

“I totally agree that the visa window should be extended to at least 6 months,” he said, adding that some quality candidates often take roles they are unsuited to, due to the time constraints.

“I have witnessed on numerous occasions, a highly qualified person is willing to take a low salaried job just for the sake of staying the country, as soon as they find a more suitable position, they leave. During that period they will be unhappy, not working to their best and damaging the integrity of the business.

“In any situation, when you remove the concept of desperation, it will result in a much healthier outcome. For one, it would allow the right employer to secure the right employee and vice versa, ultimately ensuring a smoother process, employee/employer loyalty and more importantly a much happier work environment leading to a more profitable business,” he added.

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