Maha al Kaabi, 21, of Hatta, is studying business administration at Al Ain Women's College, part of the Higher Colleges of Technology. She is one of the few young Emiratis keen to make a career in the private sector and has already amassed considerable work experience, having taken a photography course and completed internships at the National Bank of Dubai and Dubai TV. She also has experience in the public sector from an internship at Dubai Municipality and has set up her own collective of Emirati photographers, designers and programmers, who are all also students, and who have helped several commercial clients with their marketing operations.
Miss al Kaabi, who interviewed all 60 young Emiratis who contributed to the college's survey, says she gained her command of English from watching films and reading books. "Most of those I interviewed are afraid of the private sector and said there is no job security," she said. "They said there are no pension schemes for when you retire unlike those that are provided for people in the government sector."
The perception of salaries and working conditions is also a factor. "The private sector provides small salaries and Emiratis want more because the cost of living here is so high. They also want more holidays and free time. They believe full-time employment in the private sector means working from 7am to 5pm and they can't take working all that time. "They also feel the private sector wants too many qualifications.
"Personally, I found it more interesting to work in the private sector. There is more opportunity to gain experience and they demand a good quality of work. They are very strict about this. I'm a workaholic so I love this." Miss al Kaabi said she also enjoyed the multicultural working environment provided by many private-sector jobs, but believed the private sector should be more open to Emiratis and their qualifications.
"They should participate with them and offer several kinds of jobs, such as part-time jobs for students as well as training sessions and workshops. "The private sector thinks that we are not interested but they can't judge unless they try us first." However, she is optimistic. "There are now good training courses available to us. The future is looking good and I think young Emiratis will have a good chance," she said.
"I graduate next year and I already have several job offers. I haven't decided what to do yet but I know I don't want a routine job." *The National