Business leaders: New projects will address issues Emiratis face in private sector

Photo by Ryan Lim
Photo by Ryan Lim

Abu Dhabi - The initiatives under Nafis are also likely to encourage Emiratis to work in sectors that may not have appealed to them before


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Sun 12 Sep 2021, 5:37 PM

Last updated: Mon 13 Sep 2021, 6:30 AM

Ten per cent — that is the five-year Emiratisation target laid out by private sector companies, as the UAE announced a series of plans to increase the share of Emiratis in the private sector today.

Business heads, who were present when the second set of Projects of the 50 were announced at Qasr Al Watan, said the projects address issues that Emiratis face when joining the private sector.

Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim, said, “The initiatives tackle a number of challenges that were present in recruiting Emiratis. The challenges were related to the attractiveness of the private sector for UAE nationals as well as the ability of the private sector to support and train them and give them a proper path going forward.”

Saeed Al Awar, head of Middle East, Rothschild and Co, said, “You have to look at the whole thing as a package. As an incentive, these initiatives did not exist before, and there were a lot of questions by Emiratis about the stability of their jobs in the private sector and salaries not being on par with the public sector. These initiatives bring equilibrium, so, people don’t have an excuse anymore.”

Bejjani said he expects more Emiratis to work as accountants, programmers, coders, and other retail positions in Majid Al Futtaim (MAF).

“MAF has always been extremely engaged in recruiting UAE nationals. We believe localisation gives us a competitive edge,” he said.

“The government is aiming for a 10 per cent recruitment of Emiratis in the private sector; we are putting in place many initiatives to support this endeavour,” he added

He said that the company had planned several training programmes for Emiratis, but had to shelve them due to the pandemic. “Now, we will launch them.”

Al Awar said, “It (Nafis) is an amazing initiative that invests in the most important thing in our country – our national workforce. When we started 50 years ago, the biggest thing we had was oil and that resource has gotten us to where we are today. The important thing now is to invest in the most important asset of our country which is the UAE nationals — men and women and that is what is going to take our country to the next phase of growth.”

Commenting on the entrepreneurial benefits of the incentives, Al Awar said focusing on Emiratis getting jobs can’t be a sole priority. “At the end, we also need the Emiratis to create jobs, making that part of the initiative extremely vital,” he added.

Al Awar also said the initiative would get Emiratis to work in sectors that they traditionally do not find attractive.

“Covid-19 has presented an obvious demand in terms of professions such as nursing, etc. However, careers in the legal profession definitely lack an Emirati presence, for a lack of a better word,” he said.

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