By Samantha Wright, Managing Consultant - Emiratisation, Michael Page 

As the UAE enters its next 50 years, the UAE, and its Emiratisation initiative, must be credited for the positive role it has played in advancing equal rights and creating a new generation of skilled, female professionals.  
As an Emiratisation recruiter for Michael Page, it my privilege to partner with companies across the UAE. My role is to connect them with candidates from the Emirati talent pool, finding unique matches that will help both that individual and the company grow and thrive. I am constantly amazed at the high level of professionalism I encounter in the UAE and I believe Emiratisation has played a pivotal role in this.   
Emiratisation is a government-led initiative that, through quotas and incentives, strives to increase employment and career opportunities for UAE nationals and counterbalance UAE Nationals working within the private versus public sector, as a further promotion of Emiratisation, MoHRE implemented a further strategy in 2017 to localise more jobs specifically within the private sector.

Many achievements within Emiratisation are highlighted in the ‘Vision 2021’ National Agenda. This marks the first 50 years of the Emirates Union and looks towards what it wants to achieve in the next 50 years within the framework of a set of priorities - that will benefit everyone and every facet of society, completing on the UAE’s 50th National Day in December. Many of the agenda’s goals have been largely achieved. Public university education is available free of charge to every UAE national, a life-changing benefit that very few countries in the developed world provide. The Competitive Knowledge Economy priority has created training schemes and internships - I have personally seen a noticeable increase in businesses creating opportunities for young UAEN talent. Another key point is Learning and Development, to ensure the Emirati workforce is competitive in the international arena. Emiratis frequently ask me at the interview stage about the L&D programs and career path offered by employers. Emirati women are asking me what senior roles females are holding within potential employers, with further talks around diversity. Clearly these are aspects that UAE Nationals heavily consider when applying for jobs and progressing with applications.  

In the day to day, I see the positive effects of Emiratisation on so many levels. I see the confidence and ambition in female graduate candidates I interview and help find jobs in the booming finance and engineering sectors, and in future technicians and economists who will further build the infrastructure and banking ecosystems for which the UAE is world-renowned. Equally as importantly, I see change on a societal level. Women have told me how grateful they are to have these career opportunities, that not so long ago, were not available to the likes of their mothers or grandmothers. I have interacted with many hardworking and driven Emirati women pursuing relevant industry qualifications, eager and ready to prove themselves in the job market. Emirati women are setting benchmarks for professionalism and many with thriving careers are already role models within the workplace.
I am often asked, generally by non-Emiratis, are there obstacles that Emirati female candidates face? In trying to answer this question, I will admit to being lost for words, as I believe that one of the UAE’s greatest achievements has been to level out the gender imbalance in the UAE national workforce. In 2020, the UAE had the highest level of women participating in the workforce (57.5 per cent) of any country in the Middle East and North Africa region - to me that speaks volumes. Earlier this year, we saw the announcement that all UAE listed companies must have at least one female director on the board - another fantastic initiative by the UAE promoting women empowerment. 
Emirati women never fail to impress me with their confidence, academic prowess, global ambition, and sheer drive. Using my platform, I share stories of the successful female candidates I have placed in the traditionally male-dominated STEM professions as well as senior HR and Finance appointments. 
The late H. H. Sheikh Zayed, Father of the Nation, confirmed his deep commitment to women’s rights and equality with the statement, “Nothing makes me happier than seeing women take their exceptional role in society and nothing must obstruct their advancement.” And as the UAE advances towards its next 50 years, I truly believe that nothing will.  

On the occasion of Emirati Women’s Day, I hosted a webinar where I interviewed two Emirati pioneers, Jouhayna AlMheiri (Air Traffic Control Officer & Co-Founder Jumpstart Aviation) and Fatima Al Qubaisi (Legal Counsel and the first Emirati woman to graduate from Harvard Law School). They have successfully built thriving careers and become icons for the young generation of Emiratis stepping into the world of work. Watch on demand

If you are an Emirati national looking for a new career opportunity or a business in the UAE looking to hire Emirati talent, please click here to learn more about how we can support you. 

This article was first published by Arabian Business on 26 August 2021. 

Join over 80,000 readers!
Receive free advice to help give you a competitive edge in your career.