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Emiratization and Unequal Employment Opportunities Proposal

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Updated: Aug 4th, 2020


The recent rapid economic and social development of Gulf countries placed them at the top of the job market and drew in an influx of international workers attracted by excellent working conditions and fair compensation policies. Over time, this has led to the challenges for the residents of these countries in finding employment and triggered a reaction in the form of government actions aimed at improving the opportunities of finding a job for the domestic workforce. Emiratization, which is arguably among the best recognized of these policies, has recently shifted from the government to the private sector (Randeree, 2009). However, Emiratization is considered a success, there are concerns about its shortcomings as well as unintended adverse effects (Aljanahi, 2016).

The aim of this study, which takes a form of quantitative study based on the questionnaire, is to explore the possible reasons behind the reported unequal employment opportunities associated with Emiratization and identify possible causes of its relative inefficiency. Its findings will contribute to the existing body of knowledge on the effects of Emiratization, provide the employers and policymakers with the data on the possible weaknesses in the process, and offer insights on the potential solutions to enhance the intended effect of the initiative. Besides, it will allow businesses to introduce adjustments addressing the current effects of Emiratization and conduct additional research in the outlined direction.

Problem Statement


The concept of Emiratization is a well-established and recognized phenomenon in the economic and social landscape. According to the consensus, it is expected to redefine both the social and the economic characteristics of the UAE. More specifically, the governmental policies which are intended to invite a larger number of residents of the UAE to participate in its economic growth are expected to strengthen the economy of the country, improve the well-being of its citizens, and foster their involvement in its development. These aims are achieved mainly by drawing larger numbers of UAE residents in private and public sectors (Randaree, 2009).

However, there is a possibility that the effort aimed at the promotion of benefits of Emiratization is insufficient for reaching its intended goal. Under these conditions, there is a possibility that the process of Emiratization will be challenging to implement and execute. The lack of interest in the offerings by the SMEs can hamper the efficiency of the initiative and lead to several unintended adverse effects, such as compensation discrepancies in the job market. As a result, the SME environment will either remain underdeveloped or will develop unevenly, destabilizing the economic situation, and the intended milestones of the UAE’s economic development will not be achieved.

Research Question/Hypothesis

The study will aim at determining the factors that currently affect the choices that the UAE residents make when it comes to selecting a workplace. More specifically, it will target the issue of uneven attention of the workers seeking employment to the private and public sectors. The study will also determine the awareness of both the benefits present in the propositions of SMEs affected by Emiratization and the challenges which the process poses to the residents.

Finally, it will evaluate factors such as perceived opportunities of locals compared to expatriates. Thus, it will point out the key factors which will point to the reasons behind the success of Emiratization from the citizens’ perspective. Therefore, the research question can be formulated as follows: What are the factors that defined the engagement of the staff as the primary reason for the shortcomings of the Emiratization for the private entrepreneurship area, and what strategies can be suggested to address the obstacles?

Objectives and Aims

Overall Objective

The primary objective of the study is to identify the factors which shape the perception of Emiratization among the citizens of the UAE and gain an overview of the current attitude displayed by the domestic workforce towards the process.

Specific Aims

The primary objective can be broken down into several aspects that target specific areas of the issue. First, the research will offer insights into the Emiratis’ perception of the phenomenon and their evaluation of its success. Also, it will assess the amount of support they voice for the initiative, as well as the overall satisfaction with its apparent results. This will allow the government and participating business entities to adjust their actions accordingly based on the received feedback. Next, the study will gain an overview of the perceived skill level of local employees and its relevance considering the current requirements posed by the market. Besides, it will illustrate the estimate of the English knowledge by the UAE residents. Since the latter becomes gradually more important as a necessary component of the employee skillset, the research is expected to improve our understanding of the difference between the demands set by the changing job market and the capabilities of potential workers.

Finally, the study will attempt to determine the reasons behind the growing disparities currently observed in the job market. This will be done by examining the public perception of equality of opportunities offered by the companies which participate in Emiratization, comparing them to the opportunities presented to expatriates, and giving an overview of compensation policies, such as salaries and other incentives. This would allow us to estimate the attractiveness of the positions offered by Emiratization and contrast it to the challenges created (or not eliminated) by it. As a result, all of the specific aims will contribute to the understanding of the issues behind the concept and give an overview of potential solutions.

Background and Significance

Emiratization is defined in the literature as the process of creating job opportunities in the public and the private sector for the UAE citizens (Randaree, 2009). Its original goal, as understood by the majority of existing studies, is addressing the growing rate of unemployment among the local population resulting from the recent changes occurring in the economic landscape of the UAE. The rapid economic growth of the country and its strong orientation at international markets and partnerships created an attractive job market for international workers and triggered the influx of expatriates. As a result, the reported and expected outcomes of the Emiratization process are vast and, to some extent, controversial. According to the common perception, Emiratization has been largely successful in achieving its intended goals by improving the presence of the domestic workforce in both the private and government sector of the country (Forstenlechner et al., 2012).

Despite the relatively steady presence of the immigrant workers, the unemployment rates of the domestic workforce associated with it are reported as declining (Alabdelkarim, Muftah, and Hodgson, 2014). This is considered the main reason for the support voiced by the UAE citizens for the progress made in the field and, by extension, the support of the program. However, the detailed review of the literature revealed the partial dissatisfaction with Emiratization among the respondents, with a certain amount of population voicing their concerns with it (Alabdelkarim, Muftah, and Hodgson, 2014). Specifically, Emiratization is criticized for creating uneven opportunities which do not always correspond to its intended cause and, counter to its goals, create barriers for residents. Another concern often voiced by the public is the lack of the desired skills, most commonly – proficiency in English, which is often required for successful employment and thus lowers the success rate of employment among the residents (Forstenlechner et al., 2012).

Some studies also indicate a discrepancy between the proficiencies required by employers and those possessed by job seekers (Aljanahi, 2016). Such a situation diminishes the positive effect of Emiratization and leads to dissatisfaction among the local population. There is also a growing concern regarding the consequences of the successful implementation of Emiratization. In particular, the effective increase in the attractiveness of job positions for locals in the private sector will inevitably lead to the perception of inequality and, by extension, unfairness by the employed expatriates.

This, in turn, will undermine the healthy organizational environment and invoke several potential detrimental effects, such as the tensions among employees and decreased productivity. Finally, a growing body of evidence suggests the lack of public recognition connected with the idea of Emiratization (Forstenlechner et al., 2012). While there is no conclusive opinion on its cause, it has been proposed that the lack of effort towards the promotion of the ideas may be responsible for the resulting lack of interest in the initiative (Alabdelkarim, Muftah and Hodgson, 2014).

Other sources point to the necessity of introducing amendments to the existing compensation practices, which currently are not lucrative enough (Aljanahi, 2016). Notably, the current bulk of research does not offer relevant data to support either of the suggestions. Therefore, our study is significant for several reasons. First, the obtained data will contribute to our understanding of the effects of Emiratization by confirming the existing body of knowledge and possibly pointing in the direction of further inquiry. Second, it will provide the employers and policymakers with the data on the possible weaknesses in the process and offer insights on the potential solutions to enhance the intended effect of the initiative. Third, and most importantly, the study will explore the implications of reasons behind the insufficient awareness of Emiratization and the relative inefficiency resulting from it.

Research Design and Methods


The study will follow a positivist paradigm to carry out quantitative research. The methodology involves the implementation of a survey questionnaire to collect primary data. The primary data comprises of views and responses of individuals working in the UAE. The questionnaire is designed with different questions relating to the demographic background of respondents, their support for Emiratisation, and factors affecting Emiratisation in the UAE.

Population and Study Sample

The intended population of the study is the potential and actual employees currently residing in the UAE. The sample must include both expatriates and residents to ensure the relevance of the obtained data and get a broader overview of the issue. Since the focus of the study is perceived rather than actual strengths and weaknesses of Emiratization, such a sample will offer the most relevant and diverse picture on the matter.

Sample Size and Selection of Sample

To further improve the integrity and representative value of the data, it is necessary to select an appropriate sampling strategy. For this study, the convenience sampling technique will be used. While it has certain inherent limitations resulting from the fact that it is not a probability sampling method, such technique will assure adequate representation of the average social reaction to the phenomenon given the scale and preliminary nature of the study. Also, it will allow us to obtain results without sufficient resource and time investment.

The intended size of the sample is 200 individuals, which is expected to give a comprehensive picture while at the same time being within an adequate magnitude considering the resources at the team’s disposal. Besides, it accounts for the possible dropout of participants in the process of data collection.

Sources of Data

Since the research is quantitative, the data will be collected via a questionnaire consisting of close-ended questions. The questions can be divided into two broad categories. The first category aims at establishing the demographic data of the sample, such as age, gender, location, education, current employment status, and the job sector in which respondents are presently working. The second category assesses the respondents’ perception of Emiratization using a Likert Scale that ranks responses according to the values assigned to them.

Collection of Data

The data will be collected via email by sending the questionnaires to the individuals who agreed to participate in the study. The completed questionnaires will be submitted by the participants in a week after the start of the data collection process.

Exposure Assessment

Since Emiratization is highly visible in media and is actively discussed in scholarly circles, the intensity and frequency of exposure are predicted to be sufficient to satisfy the requirements posed by the study. The firmly established association between Emiratization and employment is also expected to increase the exposure to the issue among the sample population. Finally, the presence of the concept in popular view is estimated to be several years, which is an exposure duration sufficient for obtaining the intended information.

Data Management

The obtained data will be properly anonymized and randomized to exclude possible bias. All data handling will be performed in a protected environment and encrypted to minimize the possibility of data leak and protect the identity and privacy of the participants.

Data Analysis Strategies

The analysis provides differences in opinions regarding the support for Emiratization and factors affecting its implementation. The current study will provide descriptives, frequencies, and pivot tables and charts to present findings regarding Emiratization and factors influencing it. The descriptives include meaning, median, standard deviation, sample variance, kurtosis, and skewness (Wegner, 2008). The frequency table will be prepared to determine the percentage of respondents in favor of Emiratization. The pivot table will perform cross-tabulation of questions regarding the factors affecting Emiratization based on the citizenship of respondents (Jelen and Alexander, 2013). The results will be supported by frequency and pivot charts.

Ethics and Human Subjects Issues

All of the participants will be presented with informed consent before participation in the study. They will be informed that their results will be anonymized to exclude privacy breaches and presented with the description of the measures intended to protect them from the exposure of the sensitive data as well as possible risks of unforeseen breaches. The voluntary nature of the research, the lack of incentives, and the possibility to withdraw will also be highlighted to avoid misunderstanding.


The total time required for the research is estimated at 27 days, with the necessary preparations precluding the data collection taking five days, the data collection intended to take seven days. The processing and analysis of data are expected to take no more than five days and the preparation of the discussion of results taking up to ten days.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study

The chosen method, sampling technique, and measures incorporated in the data analysis are expected to generate a robust and reliable set of results. The size of the sample and the predicted interest of the population will ensure the active involvement of participants and contribute to the commitment and, by extension, quality of the obtained information.

However, it should also be noted that the study in its current form has several limitations. First, the chosen non-probability sampling method opens up the possibility of the unequal representation of certain segments of the population and, therefore, does not offer an objective picture of the situation. Besides, it should be recognized that a sample of 200 individuals is considered small by the standards of quantitative research (Jelen and Alexander, 2013).

However, both of these weaknesses are acceptable since the study in question is exploratory and is intended to be followed by more focused inquiries to detail the initial findings. Finally, the sensitive nature of questions of unemployment coupled with the dissatisfaction and perception of unfairness present in a small amount of population can potentially contribute to the distorted and incorrect evaluation of the effects of Emiratization. However, this weakness is also negligible since the study intends to assess the perceived rather than actual effects it has on the society and job market.

Business or Social Impacts or Significance

The study is intended to be beneficial for both the businesses and the UAE society on the whole. The former will benefit from the improved understanding of the effect the Emiratization has on the job market. More specifically, the employers will be able to adjust their expectations to the existing perceptions of the workers and, more importantly, incorporate the obtained knowledge in their business practices. The most evident example is the introduction of adjustments intended to minimize the sense of unfair compensation and decrease the gap between expatriates and UAE residents. Such changes must not necessarily nullify the effect of Emiratization but have the potential to improve the workplace climate and boost productivity.

Besides, policymakers can benefit from the study by obtaining an overview of the possible effects of Emiratization. Specifically, if the results will indicate a positive relationship between the support for Emiratization and the perceived limitation of opportunities, it may serve as a signal for further inquiry on the unintended adverse effects and the development of strategies to minimize them.

Budget and Motivation

The project is intended to be based on the voluntary participation of the research team comprised of motivated individuals. The main motivation behind the study is in acting to improve the economic conditions of the UAE and, by extension, the well-being of its citizens. Emiratization offers great possibilities for this, and to ensure the best results, it is important to eliminate its undesirable adverse effects.

Since the choice of sample and data collection is expected to be performed by the students voluntarily, it will require no budget allocation. The analysis is also within the capabilities of the research team. The questionnaires are printed and do not require printing. The calculations, data encryption, and preservation are to made using free software. The presentation will be prepared by the efforts of the research team free of charge.


Alabdelkarim, A., Muftah, M. and Hodgson, S. (2014). The Impact of Emiratisation on Job Description Issues. Middle East Journal of Business, 9(2), pp.25-34.

Aljanahi, M. (2016). Challenges to the Emiratisation process: content analysis. Human Resource Development International, pp. 1-8.

Forstenlechner, I., Madi, M., Selim, H. and Rutledge, E. (2012). Emiratisation: determining the factors that influence the recruitment decisions of employers in the UAE. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(2), pp.406-421.

Jelen, B. and Alexander, M. (2013). Pivot table data crunching. 1st ed. Indianapolis, Ind: Que.

Randeree, K. (2009). Strategy, policy and practice in the nationalisation of human capital: Project Emiratisation. Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, 17(1), pp. 71-91.

Wegner, T. (2008). Applied Business Statistics Solutions Manual. 1st ed. Cape Town, South Africa: Juta Academic.


Appendix 1: Questionnaire/ or Interview schedule

Gender Male Female
Age o 15-20 o 21-25 o 26-30 o 31-35
Location o Abu Dhabi o Sharjah o Fujairah o Dubai
Education o Matric o Intermediate o Bachelors o Masters
Citizenship o Yes o No
Employment Status o Employed o Unemployed o Job Seeker
Job Sector o Private o Government
Support Emiratization o Yes o No
You think that the government should support Emiratization Strongly Agree Agree Somewhat Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
You think that the government policy is effective Strongly Agree Agree Somewhat Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
You think that Emiratis are skilled Strongly Agree Agree Somewhat Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
You think that companies offer equal opportunities Strongly Agree Agree Somewhat Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
You think Emiratis are fluent in English Strongly Agree Agree Somewhat Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
You think that Emirates have equal opportunities as Expatriates in the private sector Strongly Agree Agree Somewhat Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
You think Emiratis are paid more than Expatriates Strongly Agree Agree Somewhat Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
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