It’s intimidating watching the immigration officers in their starched white kanduras (كَندورَة / kandūrah), lounge around with their colleagues, sipping tea and eating dates, laughing while people are having to wait patiently in line—no one dares say anything in this country because no one really knows the rules. This is a person's first impression of the Emirates. And if the UAE wants foreigners to see the failure of Emiratisation, then DBX shows this perfectly.
Emiratisation (or Emiratization) is an initiative by the government of the United Arab Emirates to employ its citizens in a meaningful and efficient manner in the public and private sectors (Wikipedia). The problem is, these are not a people that want to be employed.
This is a nation that has created a class of privileged people that expect assistance from the moment they are born. The nation’s wealth has allowed it to bless its citizens with support for housing, health, and education. However, the recession has had its impact even on this affluent nation. When unemployment rates reached 14% for young Emiratis, the nation was forced to make a difficult decision: create a working class of Emiratis.
Now these Emiratis, without the education or work ethic that is needed, are replacing expats. Expat managers are frustrated because they are forced to hire Emiratis into positions, paying them starting salaries of more than AED20,000 (US$5,450) a month (tax free) with the understanding of quick promotions.
While some Emirati’s take the work seriously and are contributing positively, the majority have found it to be another “free ride” knowing they cannot be dismissed. It has even been noted that some have complained to managers that the 40-hour work week expected of them is unacceptable. And an article I read in the local newspaper recounted a particular Emirati whose mother called a manager complaining that her son’s workplace was “just too small.”
We had one such Emirati “replace” an expat at our school. The expat was Egyptian and had been teaching Islam for over two years without complaint. An Emirati who had just finished training, came to our school, said, “I want that job,” and the next day the expat was fired to make room for the Emirati. The Emirati was allowed—or ignored—to miss meetings, come in late, not come in at all, and have a reduced teaching assignment. All without any consequences.
Emiratisation: a solution or a bigger problem?