Ever since Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, stated that they wanted every Emirati, no matter their background, to complete their education and contribute to the advancement of the UAE’s society, education has played a pivotal role in fulfilling that dream.
The concepts of nationalisation and Emiratisation vary from entity to entity. However, I feel that its essence has been lost in translation. Both terms mean the development of the Emirati national and not just putting them in jobs that would cover a quota. The concept of training and guiding them to achieve career goals was at the forefront of what both rulers were talking about.
I created ALF Administration in 2011 based on that speech. The company is focused on the development and training of Emiratis so that they can find jobs that suit their needs and interests, and above all, allow them to create a career-development plan. Our goal is to redefine how organisations approach nationalisation and Emiratisation. One size doesn’t fit all.
One major problem is that many Emiratis, despite differences in interests or education levels, are often placed in one stereotypical job, and only a few of them move on to further positions.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid once said he was tired of seeing Emiratis as tellers in banks or meeter and greeters at airports, and wanted to see them in positions that were strategic and pivotal to the country’s advancement. Each time, he has asked them how long they had been in this position. Some had been there as long as 10 years. This not only is demotivating, but also adds no value for the organisation. When you think about it, the true experience is just one year, and the remaining nine years is doing the same job over and over.
Companies will benefit if they develop career plans for these Emiratis, organise training programmes or encourage them to complete their education so they can move up the career ladder.
We work in conjunction with organisations to make sure they develop the Emiratis who work for them. Most Emiratis just require a little push and the understanding of a person willing to watch them grow and develop, even if that means they might replace that person in the organisation when they’re fully developed.
The only way nationalisation and Emiratisation can truly be realised is if a company is willing to develop Emiratis. We will refuse jobs if we feel there’s no developmental outcome or career path for the person. How can we add value if value isn’t wanted or needed? We believe the importance of understanding what it means to “add value” to an organisation will allow Emiratis to perform above and beyond their capabilities, as long as they believe and feel that the company is looking out for them.
Another concern is when Emiratis are hired for jobs that don’t exist, which is a big failure in terms of national development. How can anyone be expected to perform when there is no clear role or job description? Most expats come to the country with a job – a role that they can add value to – and this gives them satisfaction and a sense of belonging and achievement. Unfortunately, some organisations won’t have the same approach when it comes to Emiratis, then are surprised when they don’t perform to expectation.
When asked whether my company will be around for years to come, the answer is always the same. We hope all companies implement what we teach so we don’t need to be around and can watch Emiratis develop for the advancement of our country.
* Omaira Al Olama
Omaira Al Olama is the managing director of ALF Administration, a training company that prepares Emiratis for the workplace.
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