If I got a dirham every time my Emirati friends talked about unemployment and Emiratisation, I would now be a millionaire.
Since the implementation of the nationalisation policy by the Government, talk of efforts to increase the number of Emiratis, who make up less than a fifth of the population, in the expatriate-dominated job market has not stopped.
In fact, it has increased with the growing number of fresh Emirati graduates joining the workforce.
Yet, young Emiratis believe that while some efforts have proved successful - primarily in the government sector - there are still challenges in the private sector, where the number of nationals do not exceed 30 per cent. Compare that to the Emirates Identity Authority, where 99 per cent of the staff are Emiratis.
My friends' conversations reflect an increased frustration, especially by those who have graduated since the global financial downturn.
Some have even dedicated blogs and forums to discuss this issue with fellow GCC nationals, who face similar dilemmas in their countries.
Others have complained on radio shows about how they felt "like in their own country".
"No one is hiring," says one of my Emirati colleagues, "They graduated in a very bad time," he added, referring to those graduates who completed their studies from 2009 onwards.
I do not believe that this is a convincing reason.
Many expatriates continue to be recruited in different sectors across the country. In addition, the UAE's economy is one of the fastest growing in the region, which unlike other countries worldwide, has not suffered vastly as a result of the global financial meltdown.
But you might wonder if it is possible to create jobs for unemployed Emiratis in difficult times? You bet it is.
According to economists and researchers, the UAE's private sector alone is able to create about 600,000 a year, and thus be able to accommodate this year's 43,000 unemployed Emiratis.
Still, questions remain.
Why, even after all the laws and policies by the Government, are there still unemployed Emiratis? How come it takes a shorter time for an expatriate to find a job, when a qualified Emirati has to wait for months, even years?
And finally, who or what is to be blamed? The organisations or Emiratis' employment preferences?
My "on the ground" research led me to Reem and Yousif, perfect examples to illustrate the problems of some graduates fresh out of university.
Reem, is a young Abu Dhabi native with a BA in business management. She graduated with a high grade point average, from a prestigious university in the UAE and was confident that she would be hired in no time, given that she was from a wealthy family and was more concerned at the type of job she would be doing than its remuneration. Some 18 months later she is still unemployed.
I was shocked and asked her why she had not got a job.
"The private sector is looking for receptionists or secretaries to fill the quotas required by the Government. Some told me that these are the only posts available for Emiratis, while the public sector is looking for experience.
"Where will I get the experience if my own city does not provide me with it?" says a frustrated Reem, who has lost all hope of being hired and has decided to enrol in a masters programme abroad.
Reem's response reminded me of the numerous interviews I conducted as part of my masters thesis, when I asked directors in leading Emirati organisations why Emiratisation was still not fully implemented. Some still believed in the stereotype of the "lazy Emirati worker who only cares about a high salary".
But that is an unfair generalisation and Yousif illustrates why. At 25, he could have been working at one of his father's establishments, but decided instead he wanted to be a contributor to the UAE's development.
A graduate of finance and accounting, he was recently interviewed by a government organisation by his soon-to-be expatriate supervisor, who not only was rude, but told him that Emiratis were lazy and "I know that you are here to pass your spare time".
Many young Emiratis believe that the right connections are the key to respectable jobs and vital to avoid interviews such as Yousif experienced.
"I waited for months to receive a reply back from an organisation I had been eyeing, but I had to use my influential cousin's connections or I'll be doomed to wait for months like my fellow Emiratis," said 23-year-old Sara, who received an interview request from her desired organisation within a week after calling her cousin for help.
Fatima, on the other hand, is frustrated with her organisation, which hired expatriate graduates who personally knew the managing director, taking jobs that could have been fulfilled by qualified Emiratis.
The discussion about Emiratisation could last for hours, and although young Emiratis refer to different obstacles to the full implementation of the Government's policy, they still agree on one main issue that should be overcome.
A stricter quota and penalty system, coupled with deadlines, should be implemented on all private companies to hire Emirati nationals, in addition to the Emiratisation of all human-resource positions in both the public and private sectors - and Emiratisation progress monitors need to be deployed .
Manar Al Hinai, an Emirati, is a fashion designer and writer based in Abu Dhabi. She was recently named an Arab Woman of the Year.