Call for Emiratisation as expats make up 91% of UAE workforce

Several voices in the UAE are calling on a emiratisation wave after new figures show that foreign nationals account for 91% of the workforce in the kingdom, above the 75% average  across the GCC.

In 2018, nationals formed just 8% of the UAE workforce. The number is projected to further dip to 6% in 2020 and to 3% by 2030.

“It’s high time that nationalisation policy gets the attention. The GCC countries and private sector companies have made this a top priority. However, the obstacles related to organisational inefficiencies, failure of leadership, and management style in both the public and private sector have hampered the nationalisation policy efforts.

“We are talking about nationalisation for the last three decades but so far we have failed to increase the number of nationals in the public and private sector,” Jasim Al Ali, deputy chief executive at Dubai Media Incorporated, told local news outlet Khaleej Times.

He noted the need for a sustainable policy to find right national talents for the right jobs.

Ali added that according to government statistics, the employment of nationals remains at less than 2% in the private sector, which comprises more than 62% of the total jobs in the country.

However, the lack of qualified professionals in different sectors is hampering recruitment.

Faisal Shanfari, general manager for shared services at Oman Oil Marketing Company, said nationalisation needs to be addressed soon as the issue is starting to grow bigger.

“Companies can’t hire nationals just to achieve the numbers, because later on, it will affect productivity and lead to catastrophic scenarios,” he said, highlighting the need to shift the nationalisation strategy from a numbers game to a quality game.

Shanfari said foreign workers in the country needn’t be apprehensive about the strategy of nationalisation. “National workforce is not to replace the expatriates. Developing countries in the GCC need lot of manpower, including nationals and expats,” he added.

However, a senior MP in Kuwait recently described nearly a third of the foreign workers in the country as “not useful” and urged the government to gradually deport them, as reported by International Investment.

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Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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