Centre reflects challenges of Emiratisation

The ongoing challenge of Emiratisation of the financial world has been put into focus by new figures from the Dubai International Financial Centre.

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More than 11,000 people work in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), almost all of whom are expatriates, a new survey shows.

The make-up of the employee base of the region's top financial centre is an indication of the challenge of Emiratisation in the financial world. Just 3 per cent, or 334, of the 11,436 employees, are Emiratis.

Meanwhile, the Dubai Statistics Centre said in a recent study that the employment rate for Emiratis in the emirate was about 8.7 per cent.

Governments across the Gulf have put into motion plans to increase the involvement of local people in the economy. Recent reports have listed cultural differences, educational challenges and government subsidies as barriers to increasing domestic participation in the labour force.

Dr Nasser Saidi, the chief economist of the DIFC, said the situation was improving with some of the administrative arms of the centre sponsoring internships to pave the way for Emiratis to get jobs at the Dubai Financial Services Authority and other bodies.

Of the 440 workers in the administration unit of the DIFC, 134 are Emiratis, or about 30.5 per cent.

But a key issue, Dr Saidi said, was the lack of a dedicated business school in the UAE. Several institutions offer certificates and executive MBAs, but there is no full business school programme to help prepare Emiratis for the financial world.

"I think you need a good business school in Dubai," he said. "I would certainly vote for this."

The statistics also show more males than females work at the centre, with 65 per cent men and 35 per cent women making up the staff. Still, Dr Saidi said that was an improvement compared with the country as a whole - where some studies have shown the imbalance to be even higher.

The Ministry of Labour issued amended legal requirements for hiring Emiratis earlier this month, saying that at least 15 per cent of positions should be reserved for nationals across all private industry. Companies will be divided into categories based on their compliance with the legislation and how they create a diverse workforce.