DUBAI // Almost 40 per cent of those receiving social welfare are capable of finding gainful employment, the Minister of Social Affairs has said.
During an interactive seminar at the Government Summit, Mariam Al Roumi said misconceptions about the role of the ministry were the main hurdle they faced.
"For many people social allowance has become a right which they must have whether they need or not," she said. "About 40 per cent of those receiving are capable of working."
The ministry said earlier that about 85 per cent of the 14,000 Emirati women who receive allowances had previously refused offers of employment.
Ms Al Roumi responded with delight to a televised request from a 43-year-old Emirati man who depends on social allowances to survive.
"Instead of coming here [to the ministry of social affairs] to update my details, I rather that you develop me and find me a job so I can support myself and my family," he said.
Ms Al Roumi responded: "I have been in this field for about 28 years and I have never met a person receiving social allowances who told me that 'I want to work'."
She said the ministry had shifted its strategy since 2007 from a role of simply caring to a role of developing individuals.
By teaming up with the Ministry of Education, she said, the Ministry of Social Affairs was recently about to create about 5,000 vacancies for Emirati women willing to be employed as school bus supervisors.
"We want to encourage people to work and not to be dependent on the allowances," said Ms Al Roumi.