x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Men more likely to start a business in UAE than women

The finding, in a report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, was revealed on the second day of the SME Congress & Expo in Abu Dhabi.

Hamad Eghdani, the director of Government Relation and Emiratisation at Emaar Hospitality Group, talks during a panel, 'Emiratisation: CSR or Business Decision?' on day two of the SME Congress & Expo at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center. Silvia Razgova / The National
Hamad Eghdani, the director of Government Relation and Emiratisation at Emaar Hospitality Group, talks during a panel, 'Emiratisation: CSR or Business Decision?' on day two of the SME Congress & Expo at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center. Silvia Razgova / The National

Despite a government push to bring more women into the workforce, men in the UAE are 2.8 times more likely than women to open a business.

The finding, in a report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, was revealed yesterday on the second day of the SME Congress & Expo in Abu Dhabi.

Today, on its third and last day, the congress will talk about women in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Figures show women are heavily concentrated in the public sector. According to the Ministry of Interior, 66 per cent of the public-sector workforce is female.

Yesterday, the congress tackled the issue of Emiratisation. Panelists discussed the possibility of a quota for Emiratis in small businesses.

“The market is an open market, and let the entrepreneur decide whether he wants to recruit an Emirati,” said Hamad Eghdani, the director of government relations and Emiratisation at Emaar Hospitality. “If there is a limitation, a quota, a businessman is not going to invest in that country.”

While congress delegates agreed that SMEs can play a critical part in creating jobs for Emiratis – accounting for 86 per cent of the workforce in the private sector – the best way to achieve this was not conclusive.

“Emiratisation is critical, it is a necessity and it is empowering your own population,” said Abdul Muttalib Al Hashimi, the managing director of Next Level Management Consultancy, a headhunting company that specialises in Emirati placements.

“SMEs could play an important role; how, that is yet to be answered.”

Sadique Naviwala, the founder and chief executive of the Abu Dhabi-based Systrix, a five-year-old SME technology company that works with the travel industry, is looking for direction in scaling up the business. He employs 10 people, none of them Emirati.

“We can’t imagine hiring an Emirati,” Mr Naviwala said. “As the panel discussed, we have a perception that they need higher salaries, and benefits that will need to be matched with that of the Government.”

ssahoo@thenational.ae