Article in brief: The author looks beyond the glitz and glory of the UAE National Day as she explores the topic of Emiratization and the increasing need to imbed Emiratis into the workforce.
The 43rd UAE National Day is upon us and companies have been preparing weeks in advance to have their offices decorated as a sign of their loyalty and pride towards the UAE. Many have increased their budget to ensure they stand out as the leading supporter of the UAE National Day in an attempt to please the ministry officials.
Festivities have been underway for the staff to celebrate this significant day in the UAE, with some hiring traditional male dancers (known as Youla), henna designers, and offering Emirati delicacies. While all this is a great initiative in sharing our Emirati culture with our expatriate colleagues and bridging the gap between us, the issue runs deeper than that.
It is important to remember that loyalty towards the UAE shouldn’t only be showcased for the purpose of gaining approval and acceptance from the government officials. Companies need to also be committed to the vision of the UAE and contribute to the country’s growth and development. One prime example is the topic of Emiratization.
The government has put this law in place with the mission of developing and cultivating the Emirati youth to become the future leaders of the country. The objective is to provide them with opportunities for learning and growing. However, many companies only see this as a quota they must fill to please the authorities, leaving the Emirati employees to feel frustrated and unwanted. It is a double sided sword, the hiring managers unwillingly recruit Emiratis and that feeling of resentment overshadows the Emiratis’ desire for learning and willingness to work. This, in turn, encourages the young Emirati hire to reciprocate in the same manner and is no longer motivated to perform well.
Being a recruiter myself, I have clearly seen how managers are resistant to hiring Emiratis. As an example, if they have an expat resign from their team, they are quick to request for a replacement. However, when it is a UAE National who has resigned, they can take months to come in with that request. Moreover, when managers are informed that a certain role is now to be filled with a UAE National, they respond with a “as long as they are willing to work” attitude, having already decided that the new candidate will not be a good performer. And this is where a shift needs to happen.
The culture and mindset of the managers in private companies who are in a position to affect the growth and potential of young Emiratis need to change. I believe it is the role of the HR professionals to start building that new portrayal of the emerging Emirati youth, rather than just promptly filling in roles. There needs to be a revival of the Emirati image in the workforce.
A quick visit to any government office will show the changes over the last few years on how hard most Emiratis work and how many hours they are putting in. An example would be the Department of Naturalization and Residency in Dubai, where in the earlier days issuing a residency visa could take days, and today, we are looking at hundreds, if not thousands, being issued daily. It is the result of these young and driven Emiratis, with the support of their leaders that the country is prospering and reaching new heights by the day.
The openness of such an attitude will surely depict the reality of many new graduates who are eager to apply their skills to the real world and gain their independence. The efforts of these hardworking Emiratis need to be recognized and appreciated. Only by doing so will there be a new model for Emiratization. Only then can companies truly celebrate their dedication to the UAE National Day.
Bahar is a recruiter by profession, an aspiring writer by night, and a mom of toddler twins. She has an unending thirst for learning, as she completed her BComm in Canada, an MA in Dubai, and continues to develop herself with reading and research.
With her column, she shares her journey as she grows and learns more about this crazy beautiful world we live in.
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