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Make room for Emiratis
The ministry of labor has submitted a proposal to employ more Emiratis. But why do Emiratis need encouragement to work?
December 17, 2008 10:57 by Dana El Baltaji
The United Arab Emirates has made up its mind: by 2020, it wants 500,000 Emiratis to participate in the nation’s workforce. For most countries, that may not seem like a challenge, but for the UAE it’ll be a struggle.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the estimated population of Emiratis living in the UAE is 878,000 out of a total of 4,621,399. The ministry of labor is currently under pressure to find jobs for 250,000 Emiratis today, in order to reach the government’s goal of 500,000 by 2020.
In a statement made by Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash – the minister of labor – to the Federal National Council, Emiratis were reminded that the public sector is no longer accepting applications, and they must apply to for jobs in the private sector.
However, Emiratis have always favored jobs in the public sector for the higher salaries, shorter working hours and longer holidays.
However, the government itself may be hampering Emiratis’ drive to look for work in the private sector. According to a report in Bloomberg, the average male Emiratis gets around AED204,000 worth of handouts from the government annually, which is more than many annual salaries in the private workforce.
“The relationship between work and income is broken,” said Kenneth Wilson, Dubai-based director of the Economic and Policy Research Unit at Zayed University, to Bloomberg “That’s unlikely to change until the government starts trying to give incentives to work in the private or corporate sector.”
In the meantime, however, the UAE government is proposing a restructuring of visa fees and procedures in order to make room for Emiratis in the private sector. The draft proposes a hike in visa fees for unskilled laborers, and a decrease in visa fees for skilled professions.
According to Saeed Ghobash, the ministry of labor is also working on another proposal to address the imbalance in the nation’s demographic: “We are drafting another plan to tackle the imbalance in the demographic structure through extensive use of modern machinery by the public and private sectors.” He did not elaborate on the details of the draft.
Expatriates make up 99 percent of the workforce in the private sector, and 91 percent of the public sector. The UAE government has a lot of work to do.