x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Quotas for Emiratisation of media will not work, FNC told

Sheikh Abdullah admitted he was disappointed that so few Emiratis worked in the media, but warned that imposing quotas could lead to 'bogus Emiratisation'.

ABU DHABI // Quotas for Emiratisation of the media will not work, Sheikh Abdullah told the FNC.

He admitted he was disappointed that so few Emiratis worked in the media, but warned that imposing quotas could lead to "bogus Emiratisation".

He said 13 per cent of staff at the Dubai newspaper Al Bayan were Emirati, 5.8 per cent at Emarat Al Youm, 1.5 per cent at Khaleej Times, and 0.8 per cent at Gulf News. The figure for The National, not mentioned in the discussion, is 5.5 per cent.

"Emiratisation of the media is crucial for national identity," Sheikh Abdullah told the council. "We have an immense problem with the lack of resources available for locals, like training."

For these reasons, he said, quotas were not the answer. He said this policy had failed and led to imaginary Emiratisation, with Emiratis given jobs on the sidelines.

He said universities needed to align graduate abilities with the needs of the job market.

A new training academy could help, he said. "We are ready to look at any proposal for a specialised academy."

Council members said students had complained about courses being in English, but Sheikh Abdullah said a media graduate should be fluent in both Arabic and English.

Aisha Al Yammahi (Fujairah) said the English requirement was causing students to ignore journalism. According to 2011 statistics, only one had entered journalism at UAE University and 10 at Zayed University.

"Why not look into the language of education?" she said.

Sheikh Abdullah said this was beyond the NMC's remit, but English was needed for communicating at work with organisations inside and outside the country.

"[Someone] who cannot speak English is like someone who cannot drive or use a phone," he said.

Members suggested government entities should not advertise in newspapers that employed too few Emiratis.

osalem@thenational.ae