x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Emiratis on job hunts: get up, dress up and show up

Emiratis who have benefited from the state's generosity should pay back the investment through hard work

It's quite hard to digest the stuff we consume in the media and from people around us about the job market in the UAE: specifically, the difficulty some Emiratis have while looking for work. Every day we hear stories about the lack of employment opportunities or discrimination against Emiratis.

The Government has outdone itself in terms of providing jobs for Emiratis, especially university graduates. New graduates in developed countries, with much stronger and diverse economies, dream of receiving the tax-free salaries that Emirati graduates currently enjoy. Yet, we also hear lots of stories about some recent graduates enduring protracted and fruitless job hunts.

I'm sure some Emiratis have legitimate issues that stand in their way and make it almost impossible to secure a job. These issues could include the challenge of working and living in a different emirate for the first time or graduating with an unusual degree that has limited demand in the job market. I'm positive there are many more good reasons. However, as someone who is a recent graduate and a witness to the situation in government funded universities (Higher Colleges of Technology and Zayed University), I certainly cannot empathise with the majority of Emiratis who are complaining about lack of opportunities.

Each government university has an influential career services centre that ensures every student secures employment. From the 30 students who graduated in my university class, only one of us failed to find a job and that person is known for a lack of ambition.

My classmate is a member of a very interesting group of Emiratis. They are the product of the comfortable lifestyle that our Government has generously afforded us. But the mindset of this particular group is not compatible with today's aggressive economy. This group expect things to be given to them and to be treated in a manner to which they have become accustomed. Our Government provided us with life's necessities and luxuries to help jumpstart our lives. They didn't want us to worry about securing food and shelter for our families. Instead, they wanted us to focus on developing ourselves.

Even after all that help and support, the UAE Government responded to complaints it had received by providing more opportunities and schemes to support unemployed citizens during their job hunt. Meanwhile, a new kind of job has emerged: unnecessary positions created above hard-working supervisors and employees. These positions, in which the workload is limited and bundled with an attractive salary, create a type of comfort for those Emiratis unwilling to show effort or initiative.

The only positive element coming from this special group of Emiratis is a figure on a year-end statistic. They cost us greatly, just as they cost the UAE Government and, indeed, the inheritance of future generations. I urge these Emiratis to get up, dress up and show up rather than complain and wait for someone to do it for them. I also urge them to develop a higher sense of self-respect and become conscious of the fact that they have become liabilities in the eyes (and balance sheet, for that matter) of their people and government.

As the rotten egg is usually the one floating; the not-so-ambitious have supported the growth of a major stigma that is affecting hard working Emiratis seeking employment in the private sector. Let us be honest, Emiratis are now often stereotyped as lazy employees who cost a fortune.

Every country around the world has its fair share of users. These citizens will never lose their love for consuming and they consider productivity as their biggest enemy.

However, we in the UAE cannot afford to accommodate such a proportion in our population. We are a country of only around a million citizens that has the power and potential to become a global player and bring positive change to the world.

Every member of society has an obligation to contribute to the overall image and economy of the UAE. That underperforming group in our society must change their attitude and start paying off their debts to their country.


Mohammad Sultan Janahi is an Emirati social affairs commentator

On Twitter: @jna7i