Why companies should hire more Emiratis now

Emiratis have through the years managed to enter and demonstrate their skills and motivation in many fields


Rasha Abu Baker

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Published: Wed 28 Dec 2022, 11:12 PM

Last updated: Tue 31 Jan 2023, 6:45 PM

From January 1, 2023, UAE-based businesses will face strictly implemented fines if they fail to reach the Emiratisation quota of 2 per cent of their employees. This is part of government efforts to integrate its citizens into a spectrum of fields and prevent unemployment.

The step aims to create more than 12,000 job opportunities annually for citizens in various sectors, and firms that do not comply with the 2 per cent Emiratisation rule must pay Dh6,000 monthly for every unemployed citizen.

In a nation whose citizens are the minority, (around 1 million out of a population of 10 million) this drastic measure is not only justifiable, but necessary.

While the contributions of expats have been, and continue to be a major driving force behind the country’s economic growth and progress, it is vital for the country’s future that UAE nationals are fully engaged in their nation’s development and provided with the right opportunities to contribute. While many UAE nationals have already entered the workforce and demonstrated not only their competence, but their excellence, there still remains a segment of qualified citizens who are still seeking employment, with thousands of others in the higher education system on deck to enter the job market.

Historically, some companies have arguably shied away from hiring Emiratis due to several debatable reasons, but according to some Emiratis they include stereotypical reasons like: the lower costs of hiring people from other nationalities, the belief of some employers that Emiratis don’t add value, are incapable, unreliable and only willing to accept high level jobs and pay. Some also believe that even as achievers and hard workers, they could face discrimination as others in the workplace might feel threatened they are out to get their position.

I don’t believe that hard-working employees should worry about their job security as there is certainly a place and position for everyone to shine.

Moreover, companies who comply and support Emiratisation are in line to be classified as Tier 1 organizations. This designation affords additional benefits to the company far beyond avoidance of fines.

Emiratis have through the years managed to enter and demonstrate their skills and motivation in many fields. From my personal experience and that of many of those around me, Emiratis have a unique approach to work and tend to go an extra mile to help others and get the job done. We see many examples of this in field careers that involve helping people, such as customer service, hospitality, medicine, human resources, education, social work and law, which I believe many Emiratis excel in due to their culture which is very much based on generosity and hospitality, warmth and customer satisfaction.

All of those listed are natural characteristics that Emiratis enjoy, including approachability and going the extra mile. As one friend once told me, “If an Emirati can’t fix it, you can trust its unfixable.”

A special benefit for companies who historically haven’t employed Emiratis is that of cultural awareness by interaction. This inevitable interaction between expat and local talent will encourage both to gain a deeper understanding of one another and continue to add to the harmony so many of us experience on a daily basis.

However, Emirati employees must also continue doing their part to discredit these stereotypes and flip the narrative, as many are already doing. Victimization is not healthy and people can take control of their own destiny - good businessmen and women know that corporate life isn’t easy and it’s important to adapt to survive.

Times have changed and its time that responsible companies and their employees turn their backs on these outdated concepts. If anything, having local national talent on your team will be an immense benefit for any organization and will reflect a company’s equal opportunities and responsibility as a truly UAE company.

While only a decade ago it was rare to find Emiratis to interact with in the work place, nationals are increasingly penetrating various sectors, from customer service reps to doctors, inspiring examples all around, with more waiting in the wings to dominate more and more sectors in the future.

The continued efforts of the Emiratisation programme combined with the synergies gained in collaboration opportunities will bring in the next wave of successes for the UAE, its citizens, residents and companies that call it home.

- rasha@khaleejtimes.com


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