Ahmed Al Qubaisi, a student, had one objective in attending the Tawdheef recruitment fair yesterday: to secure a government job.
"The private sector has long hours," he said.
And he was not alone, although some job seekers were after a position in a government organisation for different reasons.
Waleed Al Jaberi, 24, from Abu Dhabi, recently completed a diploma in project management and wants to work for the Government.
"They are more supportive if I want to finish my studies," he said.
If they both achieve their objective, the two men will join an already burgeoning public sector workforce, the vast majority of which is Emirati.
In 2009, 93 per cent of the national workforce was employed by federal or local governments. Only about 20,000 of the 3.8 million private-sector jobs were held by Emiratis, and most of them were in the financial sector or in state-owned companies. The remainder were expatriate workers.
But the unemployment rate among nationals rose from just under 9 per cent in 2000 to 14 per cent in 2009. And youth unemployment is estimated at about 30 per cent now, according to McKinsey & Company.
At Tawdheef, 60 per cent of the exhibitors are quasi-government or government organisations, while 40 per cent are private, including companies such as Schlumberger.
Mohammed Al Burashdi, the recruiting manager at Schlumberger, said he interviewed dozens of Emiratis last year, the majority of whom were "not interested" in working in the private sector.
"Not for the pay, because we see ourselves as comparable [to government organisations] … it was the lifestyle - the hours, holidays. That's the thing." He did not hear the same concerns yesterday and collected dozens of CVs, some of which fitted with what the company was looking for.
Du, which is 40 per cent owned by the federal government, 20 per cent by Mubadala Development, 20 per cent by Tecom Investments, and 20 per cent by public shareholders, has about 160 openings, including 100 jobs for graduate trainees.
Mubadala Development is a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.
"Tawdheef is the most important career fair … because of … [the] reach it provides us with," said Fahad Al Hassawi, du's chief human resources officer.
At the last Tawdheef, 37 per cent of employees of Mubadala were Emiratis. Now the figure is 44 per cent, and the company aims to reach 47 per cent by December.