In an effort to facilitate its emiratisation program, the Ministry of Labor had proposed a plan to close down all recruiting agencies and bringing the task under its purview. This is intended to have an indirect effect on the foreign work force. For example, the private agencies have long had a reputation of exploiting its enrollees by demanding greater work hours from them for less than usual pay. It is argued that by making the work standards of foreigners and nationals similar, expatriates recruited through the government agency will show greater loyalty toward their benefactors. This in-turn will help strengthen the national work-force as any effective knowledge transfer program need be carried out on a long term basis. It remains to be seen how effective this radical move is going to prove.
The reasons why the Dubai government had to go out of the way in creating job opportunities for its citizens can be understood by taking a look at the region’s history. Education had never been given importance to in a traditionally business centered culture. In the present day, the educational infrastructure is unremarkable and incapable of catering to the growing needs of the region. On top of that, foreign labor had always been cheaper when compared to local labor. This meant that a recruiting industry had emerged around South Asian émigré workers. Any emiratisation move is obviously not in the best interests of either the émigrés of the agencies recruiting them. These agencies, with the help of political influence had long sustained the status quo. Hence, a greater political will is required to negate this evident inertia.
Moreover, in managerial roles, knowledge translates into experience. No amount of theoretical training can act as a substitute for actual hands on experience. Hence, for Emiratisation initiatives to be successful, a comprehensive program to retain experienced nationals in the work-force is important. Equally important is a monitoring program that will provide constant feedback so that the program is tuned in to the current economic and political developments. The Dubai administration’s results show inadequacy on both counts.
The government had been slack in its naturalization efforts thereby failing to retain the moving flux of skilled workers. Most foreigners visit Dubai on temporary commissions and the hostile conditions for naturalization had inevitably seen them go back home. This situation could be turned around by encouraging cultural diversity and religious tolerance. Dubai being a predominantly Islamic society is also quite traditional, which discourages foreigners from other communities to make it a permanent residence. Without addressing these two sensitive and important aspects of its labor force, no amount of cosmetic policy changes will have any significant impact. What is required is an overhaul of the existing system and the introduction of a liberal and contemporary one.