Emiratis praise benefits of working in the private sector

Emiratis who have worked both in the public and private sectors say mentoring and career growth are some of the reasons the private sector is drawing in more young graduates.

Alia Al Mazrouei, co-founder of Just Falafel in Abu Dhabi, said she wanted a more challenging environment and the chance to learn. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National
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Abu Dhabi // Working in the private sector is more rewarding with greater room for development, according to Emiratis.

Nationals employed outside the government have higher levels of job satisfaction, a study found.

They say the benefits of public-sector roles offset the longer hours and fewer public holidays.

Alia Al Mazroui, 33, co-founder of the Just Falafel chain, worked for the Government for 13 years before moving into the private sector.

She wanted a more challenging environment and the chance to learn.

“You have Emiratis who work in the government sector and later realise that they are not getting the right career development and job satisfaction and move to the private sector,” she said.

“There are a couple of reasons that relate to job satisfaction within both sectors – mentoring, coaching, career growth and on-the-job training. But this all depends on the leader, not the sector.”

Ahmed Al Hammadi, 34, worked at a private British consultancy company for seven years before moving to a government job. He was there for a year before returning to the private sector.

“I joined a government firm seeking a better career and job status. It didn’t happen,” he said. “It all goes down with the appreciation of what you do.”

The study on Emiratis working in the private and public sector was carried out by recruitment specialists Aon Hewitt. Called Qudurat, which means “capabilities” in Arabic, the research aimed to determine what motivates talent in the country.

It found that 60 per cent of Emiratis feel a higher level of engagement working for the private sector as opposed to 34 per cent working in the public sector.

“The private sector brings out the employees’ strengths and helps them work on them. But as flexible as the environment is, it needs more work on the creative thinking side as well,” said Haleema Humaid, managing director at Bin Owais Commercial Enterprises.

Most Emiratis prefer to work for the government because of higher salaries, fewer working hours and more public holidays.

But nationals in the private sector are happier with their overall career development and the recognition they receive.

“While there is more security in government jobs, the private sector offers more room for brainstorming new ideas, creativity, personal growth, and is quicker to execute them. I would say it’s a matter of choice,” Ms Humaid said.

Khalid Al Ameri, 29, co-founder of Slices, said there are many benefits to working in the private sector.

“The private sector has a lot of strengths. For one, there is an international aspect you gain from working for a global company,” he said.

“Compensation, I believe, is higher than the government sector as you climb up the social ladder due to stock options, bonuses, and partnership agreements.

“Finally, they offer exposure to different cultures and problems outside the realm of our direct market, which is valuable for professional growth.

“I can see why Emiratis might feel that way about the private sector – a lot of government entities in the UAE and globally come with high levels of bureaucracy coupled with lower levels of meritocracy, which can be frustrating for young energetic youth entering the workforce.”