The telecommunications company du has recruited 62 UAE nationals as part of an Emiratisation drive in which it pays employees who are nationals a monthly salary premium of Dh4,000 (US$1,089).
The company said in May it was opening a call centre in Fujairah that would be staffed by 220 Emiratis.
It has now recruited 62 nationals for the call centre. They will earn Dh13,325 a month, or Dh4,000 more than the equivalent wage for expatriates.
That is a nearly 43 per cent premium for Emirati employees versus the national average of 33 per cent cited in a reportthis week by the management consultancy the Hay Group.
"We have a special allowance called the UAE national allowance," said Fahad Al Hassawi, the chief human resources and shared services officer at du. "In our case, that premium is Dh4,000 a month."
Emiratisation is a government initiative to boost hiring of UAE nationals in the private sector.
Du has exceeded its own target to boost its Emirati workforce to above 25 per cent by the end of this year, said Mr Al Hassawi.
"Today, we are at 26 per cent of the total headcount as UAE nationals," he said. "The target is to increase this by 3 per cent year to year."
The Emirati-staffed call centre is to open by the end of this year, with more recruitment next year.
"Phase one is recruiting 62 UAE nationals from the emirate of Fujairah, and that has been accomplished," said Mr Al Hassawi. An additional 60 to 100 UAE nationals are to be recruited next year as part of a three-year plan to staff the call centre.
"All of those people will be recruited from the emirate of Fujairah and they will be UAE nationals," said Mr Al Hassawi.
He said there had been an "overwhelming response" to the recruitment drive in Fujairah, which he described as a process of "positive discrimination".
"We got something like 1,000 UAE nationals visiting us to do the assessment," he said. "We never expected the number to be that high."
The salary premium was "a du initiative" rather than a government ruling, said Mr Al Hassawi. Du had previously said Emirati employees would be offered the same salaries as call centre workers of other nationalities.
But Mr Al Hassawi said it was common for other employers to offer such a premium.
According to Hay, Emirati graduates are paid up to 80 per cent more than expatriates at the time they enter the workforce.
New Emirati graduates typically earn between Dh25,000 and Dh32,000 monthly in Abu Dhabi, and between Dh16,000 and Dh22,000 in Dubai, according to the research by Hay. That is a premium in pay of 70 to 80 per cent in Abu Dhabi and 50 per cent in Dubai.
However, later in their careers, the pay gap narrows to 4 to 5 per cent, a Hay executive told The National.