SHARJAH // When Salah Ahmed wandered through the stalls at the National Career Exhibition last week, he did not linger at the booth promoting the Sharjah Public Transport Corporation (SPTC).
Although the job offers higher than usual salaries, UAE nationals in the Northern Emirates would rather work as fishermen than get behind the wheel of a taxi cab.
"There are some categories of work one avoids for the sake of family pride - not to be seen by relatives and friends as stooping low," said Mr Ahmed. "Most taxi drivers doing it here would not do the job in their home country."
Mr Ahmed was one of hundreds of Emiratis distributing CVs to would-be employers at the Sharjah event, and most shared his views.
Ibrahim Al Suwaidi, 23, an Emirati job seeker, said he would have a hard time finding an Emirati bride if he worked as a taxi driver.
These views are a blow to bosses at SPTC, who have been struggling to attract Emiratis as part the company's Emiratisation plan.
After eight years, they do not employ a single Emirati driver.
"We have put advertisements in newspapers and even offered bigger salaries but still no one is turning up for this work," said Mohammed Al Suwaidi, the director of human resources at SPTC.
Yet Emiratis will willingly and regularly risk their lives to work as fishermen.
Ahmed Al Mur, a fisherman in Kalba, said working at sea was a family tradition that he was proud to continue.
"Maybe I would drive a taxi if I owned one, like the old sharing taxis," he said. "I don't think I would really go to a company to take their taxi and start working for very small money they call commission."
Sami Al Hillal, an Emirati fisherman in Umm Al Quwain, said he could not compare his job with that of a driver.
"I have my own boat and do my work privately. I also often hire someone to come with me for fishing. It is a business and not like someone employed by some company," he said.
SPTC took part in the three-day Career Exhibition in the hopes of filling administration positions and driving jobs.
Mr Al Suwaidi said the Emiratisation process had been a success when it came to filling administrative roles, with about 86 per cent of the corporation's office staff being UAE nationals.
"We are trying our best," he said. "We are talking to job seekers to tell them that this is also a good career path, but you cannot dictate results."