A new kind of energy for the UAE
Unlike many countries that curtail immigration to protect jobs, the United Emirates embraces it, out of necessity. Native born citizens make up only 20% of the UAE workforce. Immigrants make up the other 80%. This disparity arose because of the vast wealth from oil and gas, which drove mining operations and economic growth, including construction, in a very small country.
The situation is changing for highly educated expatriates.
As the golden era of energy-driven economics wanes, uncertainly increases about the UAE’s ability to maintain highly paid job for highly educated expatriate. A growing culture clash also adds to the strain on the workforce as UAE citizens return from studying in the United Kingdom or the United States. While the expatriate and immigrant workers typically welcome egalitarian management approaches, pressure within organizations forces returning managers to act more authoritarian, making the UAE a less desirable destination for workers.
A weaker economy also means fewer jobs. Abu Dhabi-based Technodip recently decreased the number of employees (mostly expats) from 2000 to 700 in the last 24 months. More layoffs are expected. In parallel, The British Club lost about 200 family members in the last year in Abu Dhabi. Similar membership reductions hit the Dubai-based Emirates Golf Club.
The UAE’s continued standing as an international business center, will continue to require more workers, perhaps with a shift toward services. The Expo 2020 Dubai, for instance, will likely require a huge influx of immigrants to fill services jobs.
In recognition of these shifts, Dubai’s new Minister of Education, H.E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, sponsors a strategic initiative to create more ‘global citizens. ‘ The program starts with English skills.
The UAE currently is recruiting teachers from the United States charged with developing a full curriculum for their public boys and girls schools. While the formal program launches in September 2017, they are already getting familiar with the school system and interacting locally. In many cases these U.S.-based teachers represent the first female teachers in local schools, an incredible change that offers the opportunity to infuse global culture in the classroom beyond the language learning.
For more world tour content see: World Tour Insights: Mexico Discovers Value in English