Emiratisation Approaches in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Everyone would agree that there is no panacea for the challenges presented by Emiratisation. Whilst I subscribe to this notion, I would, however, argue that success rates of some methodologies/approaches could be much higher than others. In this respect, it is suggested that one could benefit from past experiences gained and experimented in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi before importing external solutions that may or may not fit local circumstances.

Since the seventies there have been many Emiratisation experimentation/approaches and I am not sure if any research had been done on their relative successes. Nevertheless, some approaches had left a great impact on certain sectors which are felt up to this date. In this article I would touch upon one such approach and introduce the mechanics and how it operated in broad terms and would elaborate and evaluate its impact in subsequent articles.

In the seventies, the then Petroleum Department established a Recruitment Committee which was mandated to ensure that expatriate staff being recruited by the Oil Companies were meeting the job requirements, and more important, ensuring that a UAE national that is equally qualified is not being overlooked whether from within the Company or as an external applicant. In some administrative jobs the Committee would agree to recruit an expatriate provided a UAE national who had the basic qualifications be also recruited and trained on the job in order to replace the expatriate in two years.

Some may argue that the Oil Companies were partly owned by the Government and therefore the Abu Dhabi Government could exercise some influence on them. I would counter that argument by stating that that these Oil Companies were totally owned by the big international Companies which wielded a lot of power and influence worldwide. (Abu Dhabi Government bought around 60% share of those Oil Operating Companies in Abu Dhabi in 1979).

This process or quality assurance ( as I would like to call it) ensured that all staff being recruited in such a critical sector were qualified and had the relevant experience and did not take job opportunities from nationals who were equally qualified. There were many advantages and disadvantages in the process and no one can claim it was the best but one may argue that it worked and the success we see today in the Oil sector as regards UAE representation in the workforce could be contributed to a large extent to the efforts that started more than 40 years back. UAE nationals enjoy the highest representation compared to all other sectors including some government entities, keeping in mind that most of the Operating Companies are still partly owned by the big international Oil companies and despite the fact that the Oil sector is more technical and complex than most other sectors.

This is one approach which to some extent negates the argument that we would scare the foreign business community if we apply some quality assurance in streamlining the recruitment processes of Private Companies. Nor do we need enforce quota system on all sectors. What we need is probably, at least from my long experience, a mixed bag of many things that I will elaborate on my forthcoming articles.

Omar Bamadhaf Al Katheeri MBA (OXON), “MCIPD”
Sundus Management Consulting
www sundusconsulting.com

One response to “Emiratisation Approaches in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi”

Thank you for this very informative first article! We look forward to your elaborations and your thoughts Omar, and believe we can only benefit from your experience and wisdom.

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