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The Puzzling Question of Emiratisation

The Puzzling Question of Emiratisation

It sure isn’t a simple question, especially when you consider the obligations that both employers and employees must abide by.

April 26, 2011 3:58 by

Kipp has reported on the very tricky issue that is Emiratisation before and we’ve always reached a somewhat ambivalent conclusion concerning the issue. Because, and Kipp really does hate using the phrase, “it’s complicated.” Emiratisation aims to positively deal with a national crisis but at the same time it can be hurtful to businesses and even discriminatory.

It is because of this very complexity that Kipp often does excuse some of the slightly convoluted rhetoric that proponents of Emiratisation endorse, but when we read of this talk from Dr SelimSadek, the vice president of strategies and development at UAE Academy at the opening day of the sixth annual GCC Nationalisation Summit we knew we had to blog about it.

To quote the lead from article in The National: “A young Emirati woman who worked as a human-resources specialist in the private sector, resigned to take a job at a government agency where she doubled her salary, a career expert said yesterday. But the job switch was not about money. “When I asked her why, she said, ‘To be honest, it is not because of the salary, but now I will have time to talk to my husband.”

Interesting anecdote thinks Kipp, but consider the conclusions Dr.Sadek drew from it: “We do not need to change the regulations, the market or the working hours, but the mind of those decision-makers. (…) If Emiratis continued to be made to feel they were a burden and a quota, they were unlikely to take up jobs in the private sector, preferring to move to a more secure government position”, he said.

Kipp is a little confused. Dr Sadek claims that Emiratis do not take up jobs in the private sector because they prefer the security a government jobs provides and that, like the aforementioned Emirati woman who switched her job because it was too time-consuming, it is hard work. At the same time Sadek, however, says he thinks private sector underestimates and under works nationals.

It is a confusing topic and an even more confusing argument. What do you think about it? Do you think there is truth to Sadek’s words? How should Emiratisation be approached in the UAE?

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  1. Dismanirie on April 27, 2011 1:21 pm

    Two perspectives.

    As long as GCC countries welcome foreigners to work in their economies and those guest workers see an advantage in tax-free temporary employment, local nationals will never rise to the challenge of being productive employees, because they can get away with indiscipline, absenteeism and disinterest. They do not have to observe the same rules, quite simply.

    Only when countries equip their nationals with an education that prepares them for constructive and diligent employment, cut back on the number of visas for foreign employees, and subject all workers to the same employment law, will there be a change in the attitude of nationals.

    The other side of the coin is that foreigners should be grateful for the benefits they receive from employment in the GCC and thank God they do not have to compete with local candidates who are well-prepared for productive employment. Companies must accept the differentiation in treatment of locals and foreigners as a tax on their potential performance.

  2. Andrew on April 27, 2011 5:15 pm

    Based on the information I’ve gathered over the last few years from my clients (about 50% in the realm of HR), the overall picture appears to me as:

    1 – Lack of qualified candidates (both expat and Emirati)

    2 – Lack of funds for recruiting and training, forcing companies to focus recruitment on proven expatriates that require little or no development

    3 – Emirati sponsors take 50% of profits whether they have any useful input or not; leaving significantly less money to reinvest into the business – primarily in the area of manpower development.

    4 – Return to step 1.

    Private sector companies are often squeezed so tight they’re often unable to bear the costs of developing an Emirati, who probably already costs 2/3 times as much to start with, before the cost of development is included. Combine this with the issues that Dismanirie stated previously, and you’re at an impasse.

    Until public sector recruitment is restricted, and all organisations operate on the same playing field (Federal UAE labour law only), there’s not going to be much change. There’s going to be a lot of hot air generated and money wasted till then, but it’s not going to do the slightest bit of good.

    Less carrot, more stick.

  3. azarouni on May 1, 2011 1:00 am

    IF Emiratisation is something required by the Government there are many way to achieve it.

    1. Salary Sharing by the Government.

    2. Training and allowances can be given by the Governments for the Locals whom working in the private sector as motivations.

    3. knowledge sharing system:
    The Government need to get some locals into the private sector and pay everything to let locals get real experience and then return them to the government sectors to apply there experience, in this case the level of the government will be raised.

    4. limit some area to Locals like HR, Administrations, and General Services.

    5. Create High level training centers free for the Locals

    Eng. Ahmed Zarouni
    ( UAE Local )

  4. Andrew on May 1, 2011 6:54 pm

    Fraid I have to disagree with most of that Ahmed. Whilst it does encourage (and sometimes force) the recruitment of Emiratis, it does it through maintaining and entrenching the status quo.

    That doesn’t help anyone, and ensures the local workforce isn’t forced into developing the skills and capabilities required to support the country with minimal expatriate support.

    Your third suggestion is an interesting option, but I don’t see any motivation for private companies to agree to such an arrangement.

  5. Hamza on August 28, 2011 3:09 pm

    Hi there,

    I do not see how we can ask Emiratis to go to the private sectors when the governement pays more and/or has shorter hours.

    There are different stakeholder in the Emiratisation Market. The private sector, the public sector, the recruitment firms, the Emiratis themselves and the promotional channels that tend to make all of the above meet virtually (Job portals) or physically (Career fairs…etc). The problem is that there is no synergy and the sectors are not at all working together… Each sector has his own agenda…

    The preoccupation of the governement is not so much the preocuppations of the companies. For one, it is to make sure no Emiratis is out of work in this booming economy, for the other it is to find the rare Emirati skill that would fit the role instead of an Expat.

    I believe the government should make more space for the lower qualified portion of Emiratis, the ones not able to find work at the moment for example and train them. The salary should be reviewed to match the market. Govt should train these Emiratis for a certain time in 1 specific sector and get them back on the market, more competitive, within a specific time (a few years for example).

    On the other hand, I think the private sector should focus their efforts on murturing these basic skills that the governement helped building upon and to help these employers, there should be more Emiratisation Specialists headhunters such as IRIS Executives ( or others… These specialised Headhunters would bring the edge that employers are looking for and would act like a catalyser to the Emiratisation market, especially if other recruiters specialise and join the Emiratisation cause…

    This is just a humble opinion. I think Emiratis before anyone else deserve to be part of the UAE dream and huge differences in salaries between cities (Dubai / Abu Dhabi) or sectors (private or public) will not help Emiratis have a clear view of their value in the market…

    I hope someone out there will try to get everyone working in the same direction.


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