Finding jobs for United Arab Emirates citizens is one of the government’s top priorities, the prime minister told hundreds of state officials yesterday during a forum to discuss his economic policies.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al-Maktoum addressed some 1,700 government employees at the two-hour forum, pacing the stage and sometimes calling on ministers to respond to particular points.
The public could pose questions to the prime minister through a website.
“It’s a priority of the entire leadership. We are pressing ahead with this,” Sheikh Mohamed, who is also Dubai’s ruler, said in answer to a question about employment policy. “We are facing different challenges but this will remain unchanged.”
Sheikh Mohamed said the government was working on a project to employ 120,000 UAE nationals. He also urged private companies to hire more UAE citizens.
“I call on my colleagues in the private sector that have benefited greatly from this country to extend a helping hand in the process of Emiratisation, even in a tiny percentage, to make a contribution to growth of this country,” he said.
Asked how he saw prospects for stability of the UAE, the world’s third biggest crude oil exporter, given social challenges in the Arab world, Sheikh Mohamed said: “Empowering people, education and nationalisation. These are the key words.”
Dubai suffered a crippling debt crisis in 2008-2010 but in recent months has announced a series of huge economic development projects, including plans for a tourism and retail development with 100 hotels and the world’s biggest shopping mall.
Asked whether it was risky for Dubai to have such projects in the pipeline given the uncertain global economic environment, Sheikh Mohamed said: “We cannot embark on any business without risks. Do we have to stand still because of the risks?”
He urged the assembled government employees to work more effectively, saying that while the government’s achievements were in line with his expectations, “I want the future government to be welcoming like a hotel, and work 24/7 like an airline.”