Bloomberg / Dubai
The United Arab Emirates will spend 24bn dirhams ($6.5bn) on a package of benefits and subsidies designed to reduce citizen unemployment by making private sector-jobs more attractive.
As in much of the Gulf, the UAE government is the employer of choice, with many college graduates rebuffing offers from private companies while they wait for state jobs with better pay, benefits and working hours. Millions of foreigners from all over the world currently fill most private-sector jobs.
The measures the UAE government announced Sunday to try to shift that trajectory include a monthly stipend of 800 dirhams per child and up to four times that for people earning less than 20,000 dirhams a month. Other incentives include paid training programmes, supplemental income for five years, and bonuses for people employed in professions deemed important such as nursing and computer programming.
The government’s aim is to absorb 75,000 citizens into private-sector jobs over the next five years. The measures follow last week’s easing of work visa requirements, designed to attract talent and boost growth as the UAE economy tries to claw back from the clobbering it took last year from the oil price slump and coronavirus pandemic.
Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a UAE political science professor, said the government shouldn’t shoulder the burden alone. “It’s important for the sake of security and stability that companies, which are understandably concerned with profit, also work to accommodate and incorporate citizens into their workforce,” he said.
Unemployment in the UAE rose to 5% in 2020 from 2.2% a year earlier, according to the latest estimates from the World Bank, which didn’t break out citizen joblessness.
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