Strategy, Policy, and Practice in the Nationalisation of Human Capital: Project Emiratisation

Like most of the Gulf countries, the economy of the UAE expanded fast after the discovery and exploitation of oil in the country. With a relatively small population of the country, which either did not have the required education or was not ready to work for low wages, the country had to import expatriate labor from abroad. As a result, there are more expatriates than the native citizens living in the UAE. Most of the labor force has come from the Indian subcontinent, some of them from other Asian countries, Africa and even America. This essay is an analysis of how this phenomenon was discussed by Prof. Kasim Randeere in the 2009 paper “Strategy, Policy, and Practice in the Nationalisation of Human Capital: ‘Project Emiratisation.”

Summary of the Article

The UAE and some other Gulf countries have a large number of expatriate population, which sometimes, for instance in some of the UAE, exceeds the number of the nationals. Expatriates, who range from semi-skilled workers from Asia, in particular, the Indian sub-continent, to highly trained American expatriates, hold most of the jobs in the country. These people come to fill in the gap in the skills missing in the citizens of the UAE, which in most cases are the jobs that the Emiratis are not willing to do themselves. While in the dedicated government has engaged in the education and training of Emirati citizens to take up some of the jobs, this has not reduced the number of non-nationals in the workplace.

According to the article, a larger number of expatriates compared with the number of national workers is a result of several factors. Primarily, the demographics of the UAE made it necessary to use foreign workers in the economy. Secondly, women tend to stay away from the job market due to conservative traditions of most families. Furthermore, the country also has small population as compared with its resources, and thus non-nationals come to fill the gap. Lastly, there are jobs that the nationals are not willing to do. For instance, most women travel to the UAE to work as housekeepers. Apart from that, lack of experience in some cases has also means that companies have had to export labor from outside of the country.

Nevertheless, the state is attempting to change this trend through Emiratisation. This is a national policy that involves substituting foreign workers with local ones. The government has set incentives and penalties for failing to employ a certain percentage of workers who are Emiratis. Some companies have complied with the policy, but others did not support it for a variety of reasons. For instance, there is reluctance among the Emirati citizens to take jobs in the private sector, which are not as well-paid as those in the public sector. Secondly, the lack of local women workers in the labor market does not increase due to conservancy of the families in country that discourage women from working, especially in the private sector (Randeree, 2009). This has led to a gender gap with the overutilization of expatriate males and under-utilization of power.

The article suggests that to promote success of the Emiratisation in the workplace, the UAE has to address a myriad of issues. Firstly, it has to adopt a multifaceted approach to accomplish this objective (Randeree, 2009). Education and training form the basis of this approach. Secondly, the UAE should motivate the nationals to participate in the nationalization process, including the private sector and genders (Randeree, 2009). Also, the provision of a conducive working environment can also help, especially regarding flexibility for religious purposes.

Type of the Paper

There are three main types of research papers. The first one is conceptual; the second type is descriptive; and then there is the empirical research paper. The choice of the type of paper is based on several factors, including the time limit for writing the essay, the resources available to the writer, and the source of the essay.

In this case, the paper is a conceptual paper. A conceptual paper has a focus on the issue at hand by describing it. The conceptual researcher usually does not go to a laboratory or conduct a field research but tries to solve issues by thinking about them. Consequently, he/she bases most of his/her arguments on observations of other people. The data collected by other people in the field study or laboratory is analyzed and discussed by the researcher.

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Consequently, a conceptual paper is a result of writing about issues that a person cannot solve by simply getting more information on the issue. In this case, more factual information from a field study would not be more useful; in fact, factual information at this point is irrelevant. For instance, it is a fact that there are more expatriates than the nationals working in Dubai. A conceptual paper will seek to find the reason why rather than establish the fact that such a phenomenon already exists.

Apparently, the person writing a conceptual paper seeks to address an issue while not adding more factual information than already exists. This is the case in this article. For instance, it is a widely accepted fact that there are fewer women in the workplace in Dubai. Consequently, the person writing a conceptual paper will avoid establishing the fact that this issue exists since there is a consensus on this; by contrast, he/she will seek to analyze the societal factors behind the issue and how to solve it.

Agreement and Disagreement on the Issues

The researcher has raised several issues in the paper. Most of these issues are valid, and thus one has to agree with them. The first issue relates to the failure of the workplace nationalization policies of the Gulf Cooperation Council, including the UAE (Randeree, 2009). According to the author, this is as a result of a myriad of factors ranging from demographic to social ones (Randeree, 2009). This is a point that I agree with. While the government aimed to correct imbalance between the numbers of expatriates and Emirati nationals in the workplace, the progress was impeded by several factors. The first one is demographics of the country, namely a small population to meet the needs of the country’s economy (Randeree, 2009). Thus, it has had to attract foreign workers to fill the gap. However, expatriate workers did more than fill the gap; they became the majority of workers in the UAE (Randeree, 2009). This has also resulted in gender imbalance in the workplace. Another reason why there are more forefingers than UAE nationals working in the country is the lack of requisite education and training on many of the fields (Randeree, 2009). Critically assessed, this information is not only factual but also makes sense.

The author has also noted that historically, religious and social norms have excluded females from workplace. The paper shows it to result from several factors. First, the need to perform domestic duties restricted many of them at home (Randeree, 2009). However, more importantly, although the UAE is relatively liberal compared to its neighbors, it is still one of the most conservative countries in the world (Randeree, 2009). Thus, many families are not willing to let their young women work, especially in the private sector. The state has attempted to develop creative solutions to such issues, including encouraging work from home, namely in the fields such as Information Technology (Randeree, 2009). While this issue is worrying, it also presents the truth of the working environment in the county. Thus, I agree with this aspect.

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The author also noted that the economies of the Middle East countries and the UAE, in particular, are considered not competitive globally due to their reliance on the oil sector. The author blamed economic weakness of the country on factors that emanate from political, environmental and societal changes that the area faces (Randeree, 2009). However, I do not find this argument correct. Thus, the UAE, which is among the countries with the highest percentage of oil deposits in the world, is not globally uncompetitive. The country has diversified its economy and now earns considerable revenue from its service industry. For instance, the UAE and Dubai in particular has increased its appeal as a tourist destination (Randeree, 2009). In addition, Dubai is also fast becoming a shopping hub as more major brands move to the city. Moreover, the transport sector of the country is also well developed in the country. The UAE’s open skies policy has made Dubai a global center of connections. Furthermore, Emirates Airlines is one of the best airlines in the world. Hence, the country managed to market itself as more than just a desert with a lot of oil deposits (Randeree, 2009). With this in mind, it can be concluded that the UAE has a diversified economy.

The article also raised the issue of the quota system as a way of Emiratisation of the workplace and discussed its effect on productivity. The author argues that without proper handling of the quota system and reserving certain jobs for the Emiratis, the productivity of businesses and the country in general will be restricted (Randeree, 2009). The author justified this approach, explaining that Emiratis would not want to wait to get experience in a certain job and thus promote career growth if they could jump from the initial position and appear at the top of the career ladder at once. As a result, the top leadership of organizations would be ill-prepared for the actual challenges of running a business. Secondly, the quota system will have a negative effect on expatriates who are already working, who will not be motivated to work, realizing that the company is not likely to promote them because the top positions has been earmarked for Emirati (Randeree, 2009). Such employees will lose their focus, become less hardworking and creative as in any case, they will not be able to rise through the ranks. The same effect will apply to people in jobs which are due to be replaced by Emirati citizens. Such employees will also feel discouraged from working, finding out that they will be replaced in their job in a few months or years. All in all, the quota system will lower the motivation levels and thus negatively impact productivity. In the long term, the system will be bad not only for a company but also for the country as the revenue will reduce due to the falling production levels.

The paper also suggests that the private sector, the government, and the people have to do more to enhance success of Emiratisation. The major reason that might cause the failure of the program is the fact that while the majorly of jobs are in the private sector (52%), people seem to be unwilling to take them (Randeree, 2009). The reasons for this include the fact nationals perceive such jobs as not paying well, not as secure as the public sector ones, and the working day and week tend to be longer the private jobs. Moreover, there is also the issue of non-monetary benefits given by the government, which are much better than those in the private sector (Randeree, 2009). Thus, Emirati are unwilling to work in the private sector, and foreign workers replace them, bloating the workplace with expatriates. From a public policy and human resource point of view, this argument is valid.

The companies also seem to lack incentives to address Emiratisation issues. For instance, the paper notes that the private sector employers have a poor perception of productivity of Emirati citizens (Randeree, 2009). They view them as not only less productive but also as needing more flexibility, especially due to religious observance (Randeree, 2009). Thus, although most of the companies are owned by Emiratis outside the free zones, this has not translated into more jobs for Emiratis. Moreover, since the government has legislated for higher salaries for Emirati nationals than for non-nationals, hiring of nationals became more expensive than the expatriates (Randeree, 2009). Thus, companies have a little business incentive to hire local workers. I agree with this statement. Thus, as the chief aim of any business is to make profit, business will not do disadvantageous practices, for instance hire workers on larger salaries, unless they can provide it a considerable benefit. However, there seems to be no definite advantage for the employer in this case.

Opinion on the Author’s Recommendations and Conclusion

The paper has given several recommendations about how to deal with the issue of the failure of Emiratisation at work. In the first place, the author has argued women to be the key to nationalization of the workforce (Randeree, 2009). As noted earlier, women only form a minor part of the labor force due to a diversity of influences. By contrast, females gradually comprise a larger part of undergraduates studying in the UAE. The author suggests that companies and the government should incorporate more women into the workplace for the program as this will automatically translate to more Emiratis in the workplace (Randeree, 2009). This recommendation is positive. However, for this to happen, the nation will have to change most of its deep-rooted religious conservativeness. While simply calling for more women in the workplace is easy, having the same happen in a nation where the majority of people are religiously and socially conservative is much harder. The introduction of women into every facet of the workplace would only be possible if the society changed fundamentally.

Secondly, the paper also calls for the development and transfer of knowledge to the nationals. As the author clearly notes, without a transfer of skills and knowledge it will be impossible to have an effective Emiratisation program (Randeree, 2009). This recommendation is already applied in several organizations in the country, such as the banking sector. In addition, this recommendation is more likely to work than the previous one. As more Emiratis get training, the nationalization of the workplace will eventually succeed without the need for government intervention as the companies will find it easier to hire nationals rather than expatriates. Moreover, the larger the market pool of trained nationals, the more likely labor costs are to reduce, thus leading to lower labor costs and more hiring of Emiratis.

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The author has also suggested that the companies can develop protocols that aim to improve the stand of Emiratisation. This will be due to positive exposure that will result from such measures (Randeree, 2009). More companies believe that it makes business sense to have more Emiratis working for them. Consequently, the companies should seek to have a clear and constant Emiratisation program. As the author has noted, the companies now consider it a good business policy to have Emiratis working for them. Thus, this recommendation will work even without government intervention as it will be in the companies’ interests to work towards Emiratisation.

Last, the author has recommended extending human resources departments of larger companies so as to have a department that will specifically work towards Emiratisation (Randeree, 2009). This should cover aspects such as recruitment, policy, and appraisal of performance and training. The department should also deal with expatriates who have resistance to change in relation to Emiratisation of their jobs. While this recommendation appears very tempting, its implementation might be harder. One of the reasons is that companies might not be willing to increase their costs by hiring more people for a new sub-department in the human resources department. Moreover, the aspect of resistance from expatriates will also continue to exist as nobody likes being replaced from the job speedily when replacement has nothing to do with performance but is based on the nationalization of the workplace.

The author concludes his paper by summing up the article in a splendid manner. He briefly mentions all the aspects of the paper from introduction to recommendations that were discussed in the article. In this part, the author has also given a snapshot to the issues discussed in the paper in a succinct manner. This part is also short and precise.


The essay was an analysis of the research paper “Strategy, Policy, and Practice in the Nationalisation of Human Capital: ‘Project Emiratisation” carried out by Randeree in 2009. The paper seeks to explore how nationalization of the workplace in the Gulf countries, and in particular in the UAE has, worked. In this aspect, it has sought to show that while the policy has largely not been successful, with a new endeavor it can succeed. The issues raised include the place of women in the workplace. The author has also raised the issue of non-competitiveness of the UAE in the global marketplace. Moreover, the issue of the quota system and its potential pitfalls was analyzed as a part of the Emiratisation plan. Lastly, the issue of the role of the private sector, the government and the public sector in the realization of the Emiratisation plan was considered. The author has recommended that women should be the center of any future Emiratisation plans as they are underrepresented in the workplace. Secondly, Emiratisation can only work provided the development and transfer of knowledge to the nationals, which should be a part of the policy plans of the government and businesses. Thirdly, companies ought to develop protocols that aim to improve the stand of Emiratisation. Lastly, large companies ought to develop a special department of Human Resources that deals specifically with Emiratisation.

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