x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Attracting Emiratis to retail 'biggest challenge for Emiratisation'

Emiratis are reluctant to accept retail jobs because they are "not deemed prestigious enough by their families and peers", according to Emirates National Development Programme chief.

DUBAI // Attracting Emirati workers to the retail sector and retaining them is the biggest challenge facing the government's Emiratisation programme, officials said today at the 8th Emiratisation Congress.

The trade industry makes up 30 per cent of the country's GDP, and is one of the few sectors that hires people who do not have a higher education, officials said at the event, which was called to discuss the employment of UAE Nationals in the private sector.

However, Emiratis are reluctant to accept these jobs because it is "not deemed prestigious enough by their families and peers", according to Essa Al Mulla, the executive director of the Emirates National Development Programme.

For these and other reasons, including low-entry pay packages and long working hours, he said, retail is "not the sector they want to join".

"Let's be honest...let's not hide it; Do you think, as GCC nationals, we would accept these types of jobs? No, no, no, no," he said while attending the event at the Arjaan by Rotana Dubai Media City hotel.

However, Mr Al Mulla said, Emiratis "are ready now", and that retail has become the second-highest sector for Emirati recruitment at 17 per cent, more than it has ever been. The highest numbers of Emiratis in the private sector continue to be in banking, at about 33 per cent.

Most Emirati workers continue to be found in the government sector, which provides higher salaries, more prestige and fewer working hours than the private sector, Mr Al Mulla said.

molson@thenational.ae