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A question of safety: how about licensing builders and architects in UAE?

A question of safety: how about licensing builders and architects in UAE?

Standardizing and regulating the civil engineering sector will not only increase the real estate’s safety standards but also its value.

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November 27, 2011 5:18 by



After the tax-free benefits, it really is the safety factor that people tend to push when they talk of living in the UAE. And though Kipp is more often than not a smidgen more cynical than we ought to be, we’ll have to agree the UAE is particularly safe. Sure, it is home the random burglary, the odd murder-but overall, the country has a squeaky clean record. Most of the causalities are more a matter of carelessness: the driver that is speeding recklessly, the restaurateur who avoids recommended food hygiene standards in the hot summer months and the parent who leaves his balcony unattended only for his child to fall to an untimely death.

The unattended balcony has been the scene of far too many deaths here in the UAE, especially last week when we heard of two such deaths in one week. On the 25th there were reports of a blind 3-year-old boy who fell to his death from the 14th floor of the Al Yarmouk Tower A in Al Najda, Sharjah. Earlier in the week, a 4-year-old girl fell to her death from the window of a 15th- floor apartment in Al Qassimiya while she was home alone.

In response to the unfortunate events of the past week the Higher Committee for Child Protection in the Ministry of Interior has announced that it is reviewing building safety regulations. As such the child protection centre has called for “covering balconies with Perspex sheets and to keep them closed at all times and locked, while the keys have to be kept in a place that cannot be reached by children.”

Now, these are all very pertinent points, but there also has to be a recognition of the responsibility of the architects and engineers who worked on the construction of the building. The fact remains that architects and engineers practicing in the UAE don’t have to do board exams to get a license. Most of them may be expats may already have licenses from their country of origin. However, as more and more universities push out students into the working place chances are you’ll have more unlicensed and less experienced people designing your buildings.

Setting the bar for licenses for architects and engineers practising in the UAE will not only help to maintain safety standards and avoid the unfortunately all too frequent balcony accidents, it can also help add significant value to the property sector.

erican,v� ts��)  rners ONLY” may read the description (just a few words short of blonde, blue eyed, with a history of colonisation, if you wanted to be a tad less subtle). Or the ad may go a different route, “Arab speakers, preferably Lebanese.” I even saw a listing from a popular TV station in the UAE that requested people with “American British accents ONLY.”

Dr Lee Newman, a behavioural science expert at IE University in Spain and the Dean of IE’s School of Social and Behavioural Sciences was recently in Dubai to share the latest findings on “the behavioural bases of human judgment and decision-making in the workplace.”

Newman says that because of the very culturally diverse nature of the workforce in Dubai, it isn’t unusual to find that the office is an excellent breeding ground for such biases. Newman explains these attitudes through the ‘confirmation bias’, in that employees tend to view one another through their own limited experiences and understandings of a particular culture. “So if, in my culture, a person is not forthcoming, it is a sign of deception or dishonesty and the confirmation bias comes into play. The next step is I’m going to look for ideas to confirm that idea and I may find things, but it may not be real” says Newman.

Now surely Dr. Newman is in a better position to talk about this issue, but I can’t help but feel that prevalent racial discrimination apparent in the employment process is plain old racial discrimination. Why? Well, the employer hasn’t even given a candidate the opportunity to even give him confusing cultural signals. Sure, Dr Newman talks here about both a culture of thinking and the corporate culture as well as different racial cultures. But even with this totality in mind, calling it a ‘confirmation bias’ is just a fancy way to dress up ugly stereotypes.

Have you felt like your career hasn’t progressed as it should because of these ‘confirmation biases’? Share your story by leaving a comment here or emailing us at [email protected].



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