Expat PROs resent move to make job a national domain

ABU DHABI — The decision of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi to replace expatriate Public Relations Officers (PROs) or 'Mandobeen' with nationals has touched a raw chord among the expat PROs in the private sector.

By Nada S. Mussallam

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Published: Tue 9 Aug 2005, 10:18 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:13 PM

The expat PROs believe the decision was taken hastily, and described it as unfair since a large section of expat workers would lose their source of income within a fortnight.

A heated and prolonged debate was held yesterday between the minister and hundreds of PROs in the capital, majority of whom were Arab nationals while Asian PROs were conspicuous by their absence.

The meeting focused on the decision of the authorities concerned stipulating that the PRO's position should be occupied only by UAE nationals. The minister also shed light on the mechanisms of implementation of the Cabinet decision No. 18 of 2005 on new sponsorship transfer system, hiring of labour and the fees levied for the measures.

The PROs expressed their resentment over the decision and went on to criticise the mechanism of implementation adopted by the ministry to enforce the resolution.

According to Dr Kaabi, companies should, within four months, appoint national PROs while existing expat 'madobeen' should oversee on-job training for national cadres on the basics of the profession withing a year or two before national labour force takes over the profession completely.

The PROs also lamented that the decision was applicable for those who have been in the profession for years now, noting that the same system in Dubai was applicable only for new cadres who wish to take up jobs as PROs.

"The system in Dubai provides for existing expat PROs to renew their labour cards. However, it stops issuance of new work permit for this category to enable nationals take over the profession. This makes sense because there are people in the profession for the last 30 years. Companies would definitely either deduct our salaries or terminate our services to hire extra national cadres," said Ameen Mahmood, a PRO at Ahmed Khalaf Al Mazroui Group.

Mohammed Al Jad, a Jordanian PRO with Lary Exchange, said: "Dr Kaabi should not act in haste to implement new decisions. How can he reward people who served this country for years by suddenly depriving them of their source of income?"

Other 'madobeen' averred that in line with its policy to enhance Arab labour force, the ministry should replace Asian and not Arab PROs with nationals.

Isaam Al Ouda, a PRO with the American School for the last 30 years, said: "One of the basic conditions to recruit a 'mandob' is that he should be fluent in Arabic language. Why doesn't the ministry replace Asians only with nationals?"

On his part, Dr Kaabi assured that the move aims at alleviating the problem of unemployment among nationals, which has registered alarming figures over the recent years.

"There are 100,000 vacancies in the local labour market every year while the country suffers unemployment of 26,000 nationals. This has prompted the ministry to go ahead with emiratisation policy to secure jobs for most of the jobless nationals," said Dr Kaabi.

He said if unemployment among nationals is not solved, it would lead to grave problems that might threaten national security.

"Unemployment among national youths might develop into a state of extremism, and may even lead to eruption of terrorism," remarked Dr Kaabi.

In reply to a query, Dr Kaabi said the ministry would not force private companies to stipulate minimum wages for national PROs, noting that companies have to do their utmost to retain their national workforce.

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