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33 per cent of respondents to a recent Bayt.com poll said that senior Emiratis worked in their firm.


year the overall unemployment rate hovered at around 12 per cent, with the figure significantly higher among those aged 15-24. A familiar debate centres around nationals having a reticence about taking up jobs in the private sector and this argument was seemingly borne out by statistics released earlier this year by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, which revealed that Emiratis make up only 6.1 per cent of private sector employees in the city. Ghobash has stressed that he


believes unemployment in the UAE is fundamentally ‘optional’ and if an Emirati cannot find the right post in a public sector job then that individual might not immediately seek a comparable post with a private sector firm. But opportunities exist. Major


Emiratisation drives by a host of firms take place regularly and they have had some positive results. Etihad Airways now has 143 UAE national cadet pilots and 58 graduate managers, while the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank states that 44.5 per cent of its workforce is made up of local talent. Lama Ataya, the chief marketing


86 / DeCemBeR 2011


“What the private sector needs to do is start focusing on high knowledge jobs for UAE nationals and, in a way, not take the easy route to their emiratisation needs, for instance via secretaries and public relations officers.”


officer at recruitment consultancy Bayt. com, said such policies are slowly having an impact and a sizeable number of firms are keen to recruit more nationals right across the region. “The findings in our July 2011 poll ‘Localisation Hiring Policies in the GCC’ show that 33 per cent of respondents reported having senior Emirati citizens working in their companies. In the same survey, 31 per cent of respondents said that their companies plan on hiring more Emiratis in the coming year.” Ataya also pointed out that Bayt.


com’s Job Index Survey for October 2011 revealed 49 per cent of employers are looking to hire by the start of next year “which is positive for anyone seeking employment, whether local or expatriate.” So with jobs available and UAE


nationals being actively encouraged to get involved why have relatively few thus far taken up the opportunity? Dr Jasim Al Ali, human resources


director at the Dubai Department of Economic Development, explained that family circumstances were a key factor. “There are a number of young people from mostly middle ranking families who don’t feel they necessarily have to work because their families have resources. So they can be less motivated to work and their expectations are very high so it’s hard for them to find what they want.” Dr Al Ali also stressed that peer


pressure can play a part and so taking what might be generally perceived as a lower level job, with its associated limited benefits, could act as a barrier to some UAE nationals joining the private sector.


Ahmad Al Shaikh, the chairman of


Ducab, a Dubai based cable manufacturer, was recently quoted as saying it was difficult to attract UAE nationals into semi-skilled or blue-collar positions. Dr Al Ali believes some Emiratis will


presently seek to pick and choose the job opportunity that appeals to them and challenging roles on the factory floor


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