In a shocking and provocative speech given by UAE lawyer, Dr. Habib Al Mulla, at this years Arabian Business Forum, it seems that things might not be as good in the Emirates as they would like the world to think. He stated that the emiritisation policy made by the UAE government is solely cosmetic and does not fix the grave unemployment problem among emirate nationals.
Al Mulla, who has been involved in the drafting of many UAE and emirate level laws and created the country’s financial free zones, said emiritisation policies were clearly not working, with 28 percent of the 1m UAE nationals still without jobs. in comparison to the Eurozone which reached a local high of 11.8 and is considered a serious issue.
“To put this in a comparative context, the Eurozone unemployment rate rose in 2012 to 11.8 percent and that was considered the highest rate on record at the time.”
The UAE government created its emiritisation policy to help take the burden of employment off the public sector, but setting quotas was the wrong method, Al Mulla said.
“Imposing quotas is an easy solution to the problem of unemployment. However, it’s temporary, impractical, and a deceiving solution,” he said.
“It does not deal with the roots of the problem. Rather it provides for a cosmetic touch.
“In my view, the worst result of imposing quotas is that it leads to disguised employment.
“The government is trying to impose something the private sector is resisting; the natural result is that the private sector will try to circumvent that.”
situations such as the division of large companies into numerous entities, in order to outsource their own workers, and raise the percentage of employment through an illusion. however the real numbers are unmistakable, only about 8 percent of employees in the private sectors are nationals.
Mulla stated that in a survey Emirati workers found 58 percent believed the private sector provided low salaries, 53 percent said it expected long working hours, while 13 percent were concerned about attracting a bad reputation for working in the private sector.
Al Mulla said the main determining issue was the lack of adequate skills and proper education among nationals.
“The main issue with the quota system is it fails to provide the younger generation with proper, professional or vocational training and proper skills,” Al Mulla said.
“There’s a lot of skills mismatch going on and younger people who have these high expectations are waiting and hoping they’ll get better jobs.
“What we have right now is inadequate education that does not stress technical or vocational skills. It’s essential for nationals, whether in the UAE or in other GCC countries or the wider Arab region, to be equipped with the right skills and vocations to be competitive in the private sector.”
He concluded his speech stating that the source of the problem is in education. Yet, with higher investments nothing is impossible. furthermore it is undoubtedly the later which is more effective as a long term solution to such problems rather than a simple yet see through cover-up.