Fuad Sharaf worked in the public sector for eight years before leaving it all behind for a career in retail.
"I will never regret it because I am really happy with what I am doing," says Mr Sharaf, who runs nine regional malls in his role as the senior director for the GCC in property management at Majid Al Futtaim (Maf), where he has worked for almost 10 years.
And he hopes more of his fellow Emiratis follow him in to the industry.
"You can see lots of Emiratis moving towards the private sector," he says.
"Our founder, Mr Majid Al Futtaim, is a big believer of employment of nationals in the UAE and any other market of operation. It is a key longer term sustainability of the business."
About 15 per cent of Maf's workforce in the UAE is Emirati, and GCC nationals make up a large proportion employed by the company elsewhere in the region.
"In Oman it's 92 per cent. In Bahrain it's 76 per cent. In Egypt it's 93 per cent and in Lebanon it is 86 per cent," says Mr Sharaf.
He says said he was attracted to the business because of the career path and knowledge he accrues on a daily basis.
"Every second when you sit in this company and communicate with contractors, everyone, you get knowledge and experience," he says.
"If you are running shopping malls it gives you the sense of running a small city. You meet with different people, different types of businesses, retailers, contractors, technical team, marketing, so it gives you an influence in everything. It's a great experience."