Rising unemployment of Emirati women cause for concern, experts warn
ABU DHABI // The Government was urged yesterday to do more to tackle unemployment among Emirati women and cut the number of school and college dropouts.
The jobless rate among nationals in Abu Dhabi last year was 11.6 per cent - but for women it was 41.8 per cent, and 3.8 per cent for men.
"We are graduating students who cannot fit in the market. They don't want to work in banks. They only want to work in government institutions, which is not possible," said Dr Mohammed bin Huwaidin, lead author of the Abu Dhabi Human Development Report, which was published yesterday.
The report, co-produced by the United Nations Development Programme and the Department of Economic Development, is the first to focus on the emirate's achievements and its future challenges.
It found that 450 nationals were jobless in 1975, only 4 per cent of the labour force at the time.
Unemployment reached 12,700, or 12 per cent, in 2010.
Dr bin Huwaidin, an Emirati and associate professor and chair of the department of Political Science at UAE University in Al Ain, said the overall rate was too high.
"Twelve per cent is high. Anything less than 6 per cent is considered acceptable," said.
Jobless figures dipped slightly to 11.6 per cent last year, with Abu Dhabi city at 9 per cent and the Western Region at 8 per cent. The highest rate, 16 per cent, was in Al Ain.
Dr bin Huwaidin said: "All Al Ain girls will go to the UAE University and get higher education. But in the end they want to work in their city.
"Work places are very limited there. Everybody wants to work in the private sector and they are based in Abu Dhabi. Because they are conservative and female they don't like to travel that far."
He said the report encouraged investment away from the capital in Al Ain and the eastern and western regions to create more work options.
It also found that although the average number of years spent in education was comparable to other countries, it could be raised. The report blamed low literacy rates on expatriate blue-collar and domestic workers.
Dr Huwaidin said 17 per cent of expatriates did not possess high-school certificates and this was "causing harm to the literacy index".
The human development findings also said the cost of living in Abu Dhabi was hampering the economy.
Paolo Lembo, UAE United Nations Resident Coordinator, said the report was not "dogmatically prescriptive but enlarges the policy options".
Mr Lembo hoped similar reports could be carried out in other emirates.
Copies of the Abu Dhabi Human Development Report will be distributed to universities and academic institutions in the emirate.
Dr Huwaidin said he had a responsibility to prepare the report, but it was up to the Government act on it.
Updated: October 10, 2012 04:00 AM