Companies in the UAE are bucking the hiring downturn elsewhere in the world and seeking thousands of Emiratis to fill vacant jobs.
UAE bucks world trend to hire by the thousands
Companies in the UAE are bucking the hiring downturn elsewhere in the world and recruiting enough Emiratis to fill more than 2,000 jobs.
Vacancies for more than 700 positions have already been advertised online by a mix of private companies and Government organisations ahead of the Tawdheef recruitment exhibition and career fair, which is set to begin on Tuesday.
Many jobs are also expected to be available through the online career site, Bayt.com, once it launches a virtual jobs fair in the UAE next week.
For the first time in what is Tawdheef's sixth year in Abu Dhabi, only firms with active job openings are permitted to participate. Even so, more than 80 organisations are committed to appear at this year's exhibition, which is a record, up from 71 last year.
"This year, we were not expecting that much, really, [as] they had so much cut in their budgets," said Hayete Jemai, the exhibition director for Tawdheef, which loosely translates to "employment" in Arabic.
"The thing is they might take smaller stands, but they still want to come."
About 25 per cent of recruiters are private or semi-private companies this year, up from just 10 per cent a year ago, and includes banks such as HSBC, and Millennium and Copthorne Hotels.
Positions posted by exhibitors range in skills requirements, from a fashion designer to an armed support vehicle mechanic, as well as paramedics and doctors. Some jobs will be open to expatriates, who are allowed to attend on the third and final day of the show this year but are advised to pre-register in advance.
Last year, Tawdheef's organisers said some people were turned away after more jobseekers than expected turned up.
Still, more than 10,000 people have already pre-registered for this year's exhibition. To accelerate the job hiring process this year, employers - for the first time - have posted details about some open positions online in advance of the show.
The hope is candidates will come prepared with tailored CVs and cover letters, some of whom will be invited for interviews on the spot if they are seen as suitable.
Many human resource specialists are expected to attend the summit, drawn in part by conference sessions that will focus on how to better target Emiratis during recruitment drives as well as providing adequate on-the-job training.
Some sessions will also focus on "encouraging the UAE nationals to join the private sector," said Essa Almulla, the executive director of national workforce development at the Emirates Nationals Development Programme.
"This is an important area where we want them to change their mindset in working in the other sectors," said Mr Almulla. He noted the group was working on new private-public partnerships to raise awareness and training of locals in non-government areas.
Unemployment among Emiratis runs at 8.7 per cent in Dubai, said Mr Almulla, although he said figures for Abu Dhabi were not available.
"We are trying to bring down the percentage, and make sure we are involved in different projects where it will help nationals," he added.
The banking sector, in particular, is aggressively courting new workers and already has the highest rates of Emiratisation in the private sector, according to the National Human Resources Development and Employment Authority.
Emirates NBD is seeking to attract at least 250 staff. Last year, the bank hired more than 460 Emiratis and previously announced that it would invest Dh50 million (US$13.6m) in Emiratisation programmes.
Waheeb Al Khazraji, the head of human resources at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, said it would not put an upper limit on its number of posts at the exhibition this year.