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How will emiratization succeed?
The UAE government is struggling to encourage more Emiratis to work in the private sector. But they will first have to change the educational and labor conditions in the country, say analysts.
February 12, 2010 10:43 by Aarti Nagraj
“If I am a private sector employer in the Gulf, when I hire somebody from abroad, what do I get? I get a pretty good education depending on where they are from, I get a relatively low wage… Basically, I get really good skills, for much less than the reservation wage for a national,” Dyer says.
“Also, because [expatriates’] work permits are tied to my sponsorship, they have no mobility. And so they don’t have a lot of ability to push me in terms of promotions and salary increases; because they are tied to me, they don’t really have the free choice to go and be competitive. So that keeps their costs low,” he explains. Also, while it is possible to dismiss an expatriate worker anytime, it has become very hard to fire an Emirati for being unproductive, thanks to the new legislation.
“And then you have illegal activity such as keeping [expatriates’] passports, and you really get into a situation where you have a lot of control over foreign workers, which you don’t have over the nationals,” Dyer explains.
Another factor that gives expatriates an edge over the locals is their exposure to the requirements of the labor market.
“One thing I have really noticed is that there is not a lot of job or labor market information available to your average Arab youth,” says Dyer.
“When they think about what they want to do when they grow up, they turn to the family, they turn to what they know. There is not a lot of information out there for them to consume about other choices,” he says.