Scan of UAE job market shows how rife discrimination by gender and nationality is

From targeting young Filipinas to asking for full length photos of only Western-educated women, recruiters are flouting the law at every turn

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Leafing through the classified ads and reading online posts, discrimination in the job market is everywhere.

From restricting jobs to 25-year-old Filipinas to asking women educated in the West to attach full-length photos with their CVs. The blatant discrimination is seemingly the norm rather than the exception for many recruitment sites.

On Tuesday, the country’s labour ministry condemned any adverts that exclude job seekers from employment for those reasons in the “strongest possible terms”.

"Prejudicial discrimination has no place in the conditions of employment, nor in wider UAE society," Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Dr Omar Al Nuaimi, told The National.

His comments came in response to reports that a UAE nursery group was advertising for an English teacher of "European origin and white skin".

Yet the advert is just one of many posted on job boards across the country, and in indeed the region, that demonstrate blatant discrimination that is not only wide ranging, but varied — stipulating everything from the nationality, age and even appearance of the preferred candidate.

Industry experts, and social media users in the Emirates, agree that discrimination in recruitment adverts is all too common.

"There are loads of jobs advertised that specify gender and race here," wrote one reader on The National's Facebook page.

A quick scan of the UAE’s recruitment adverts reveals the scale of the problem.

In an echo of Happy Jump Nurseries’ post, Honey Bee Nursery, in Dubai, posted an advert on LinkedIn on Tuesday calling for a “Western Female early years teacher”.

Adverts specifying gender appear to be fairly common.

Nakuri Gulf has numerous adverts that call for either male or female applicants.

One, for an “experienced nurse” in the UAE asks for Filipino candidates aged below 35.


Read more:

Job adverts must not specify gender or race, says UAE ministry

Advert for UAE nursery teacher with 'white skin' puts spotlight on race issues in job market

UAE companies losing out on good talent when posting discriminatory job adverts, recruiters say

National Editorial: Discrimination flies in the face of the UAE’s record of tolerance


Numerous adverts suggest positions, from sales to engineering, are suitable for men only, while another post on LinkedIn for an in-house travel and event manager includes the "skill" of being 25 to 38 years old.

Some job ads not only specify gender, but include the preferred nationality of the candidate. An advert for a financial controller post on LinkedIn says being a “native English speaker, EU passport holder or Western educated are highly preferred”.

Appearance is important to recruiters of some positions too. An advert for hostesses and promoters ask that applicants send a recent full-length photograph with their CV.

And it is not just smaller companies that appear to discriminate.

One listing, posted on behalf of the Nestlé consulting group, for an electrician, calls for “excellent critical thinking and problem-solving ability”, and “two years’ experience in same field”. Only males need apply, it adds.

Another advert, posted on behalf of Microsoft Dynamics, for an AX Developer two weeks ago on LinkedIn specified that the post is open to a "Non-Asian" only.

According to Dubai law firm Clyde & Co, any offences against the law by committing an act that creates “any form of discrimination, by any means of expression” are punishable by a minimum prison sentence of five years and fines of between Dh500,000 and Dh1 million.

Any company that is found to discriminate on the basis of race, colour, gender, nationality and social origin is liable to be prosecuted under the terms of the law.

On The National's Facebook page, many applauded the confirmation from the ministry that such adverts are against the law, but some worry companies may still discriminate.

“It is good news but when it comes to selection process, or even interviews, there will be discrimination for sure,” one reader wrote.

Another, writing on a discussion about the topic on Reddit, suggested that the problem lay with recruiters.

“All this does is mean more CVs will just be ignored by recruiters when they check the nationality and gender,” they wrote.

“No, the problem is much deeper rooted than the recruiter’s desk,” replied another.