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‘UAE nationals should be the biggest segment in demographic structure’

By Wael Yousef / 27 April 2006

ABU DHABI — UAE nationals should be the biggest segment in the country's demographic structure, according to the UAE Minister of Labour Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi. Spelling out this new priority, he said, his ministry will soon task a committee to draft a viable strategy for achieving this purpose by 2015.

"I want UAE nationals to be the biggest segment in the country," he told the opening session of the First Meeting of the Labour Market Committee yesterday at Emirates Palace Hotel. A number of directors of the chambers of commerce and industry were expected to attend the meeting, but only the Abu Dhabi and the Ras Al Khaimah chamber directors were present.

Interestingly, some businessmen remain critical of the current emiratisation process alleging that a large number of UAE nationals are not serious about doing the jobs offered to them. There was also some similar criticisms at yesterday's meeting dealing with the country's 'educational output' — not being compatible with the requirements of the labour market.

Brigadier Saeed bin Beleilah, Director-General of Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), said: "As long as employment directors at banks are not UAE nationals, the emiratisation process will remain a cosmetic one; nationals are given jobs with low salaries or the percentage of nationals employed would be tampered with in league with some companies that are assigned to carry out certain jobs".

Abdullah Al Masoud, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Masoud Companies, spoke about expatriates' control over trade and the necessity of preparing nationals to enter the world of commerce and not be satisfied only with government jobs.

Obaid Al Jaber, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Jaber Group, highlighted the problem of nationals' employment and their inclination to switch to other companies after getting the necessary training. Unlike expatriates who find it difficult to change their sponsorships, nationals can switch jobs easily.

Raja Al Gurg, Chairperson of Dubai Businesswomen Council, spoke about the necessity of setting up a committee to evaluate the productivity of companies and their commitment to emiratisation.

Al Gurg said, "We need to chalk out a mechanism to encourage nationals to be serious when it comes to taking up jobs. Large numbers of nationals are not serious at all...they take up a job and then simply quit few days later."

Meanwhile, Brig. Saeed bin Beleilah spoke about the establishment of a workers' bank. He said a proposal on the project had been submitted to the Economic Committee. The proposed bank will be concerned with insurance and end of service gratuity.

Reacting to criticism voiced during the meeting against the skyrocketing fees imposed by the ministry last year, the Labour Minister said only erring firms felt the pinch. "Companies committed to the rules concerning nationalities and nationalisation do not actually pay high fees and are exempt from the bank guarantee," he stated. He said the number of violations was "shocking". Fines collected, he pointed out, amounted to Dh153 million last year.



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