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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

New recruitment platform to find next generation of Emirati leaders

UAE Talent aims to ensure tops jobs are awarded on merit, and not nepotism

Mohamed Al Qadi has launched a new recruitment platform called UAE Talent. DELORES JOHNSON / The National
Mohamed Al Qadi has launched a new recruitment platform called UAE Talent. DELORES JOHNSON / The National

A new recruitment platform launched in the UAE will help to find the country's next generation of chief executives and government ministers.

The private initiative, called UAE Talent, aims to capitalise on the country’s need to fill senior positions with qualified candidates.

The idea aims to level the playing field when it comes to sourcing candidates for top jobs – ensuring recruitment is based solely on merit, not nepotism.

Organisers hope the programme will attract potential employees from all walks of life, providing companies with a much broader pool of expertise to choose from.

“We’re searching for the best and brightest hard-working Emiratis in different fields that can act as future leaders in local government and private sectors,” said Mohamed Al Qadi, director general of Sandooq Al Watan, the company behind the platform.

“We need talent right now that is able to take up senior positions and lead organisations.

“That talent does exist, but currently many firms don’t know who these people are. As a result, the same individuals are being selected to head multiple organisations.”

Sandooq Al Watan, based in Abu Dhabi, began as a social enterprise to empower UAE society and help promote national unity.

It was started by Emirati businessmen, including Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, and Lieutenant General Dhahi Tamim, former head of Dubai Police.

It is not uncommon within the UAE to find senior executives chairing numerous key, private sector organisations.

The hope is that by encouraging new talent to come forward, existing executives are better able to delegate their workload to others.

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“These individuals work very hard and are great at what they’re doing,” said Mr Al Qadi.

“But some of them would love to be able to delegate their responsibilities more, giving others with great talent an opportunity to fill these positions.

“There needs to be an actor that is able to go out there and scout talent and not just rely on recommendations from a section head or a director who might be influenced by their own knowledge or bias.

“We need someone who can do it objectively across the board, giving every single person a chance."

UAE Talent is open to all Emiratis, irrespective of their background. The platform does not guarantee applicants a job but does promise to deliver the CVs of those shortlisted to senior executives.

“We have a problem in the Arab World which is that who you know matters,” said Mr Al Qadi.

“It happens in many other countries around the world, too, but with us there is more tribalism.

“However, I can assure you that there are many leaders in the UAE, government and private, Sheikhs and non-Sheikhs, who are hungry for talent.

“Many of them do not care what your family name is or where you originally come from. They only care if you are talented, hardworking and willing to take the responsibility.”

The UAE Talent application process is intentionally lengthy and time consuming. The platform says it could take candidates hours, if not days to complete, and involves submitting essays as well as uploading short video of themselves.

Those shortlisted are then asked to attend interviews, where they undergo further testing before being selected.

“It isn’t your average application,” said Mr Al Qadi. “You have to write essays exactly like a premier league university application and the reason we did this is because we want to attract people who really want this and are willing to put the effort.

“If they succeed, Sandooq Al Watan will put forward their CV’s and guarantee a recommendation that executives will trust."

Over the recent years, the UAE has taken significant steps in ensuring senior government posts are held by those from a wide range of ages and backgrounds.

Nine ministerial positions out of 31 are now held by women, meaning nearly 30 per cent of the Cabinet is female.

Women ministers include Maryam Al Muhairi, Minister of State with responsibility for research and planning for the UAE's food security, Sara Al Amiri, 30, Minister of State with responsibility for advanced sciences, and Hessa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development.