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Dr Abdulaziz Karam

Study Shows Retention of Emiratis is Key to Development of UAE Economy

Wednesday, 06 March, 2019

UOWD PhD Student conducts six-year research into recruiting and retaining National workforce

Retention should be considered of equal importance as the recruitment of Emiratis in the Nationalisation of the UAE’s workforce, according to a recent research study conducted by an Emirati PhD graduate from the University of Wollongong Dubai who have received his degree with High Commendation honour.

Thirty-four year old Management Consultant, Dr Abdulaziz Karam presented the results of a six-year study into Emiratisation and Nationalisation globally, citing organisational socialisation to employee retention within the UAE National workforce. During the study, which contributed to his PhD degree, Karam also acknowledged the uniqueness and forward-thinking structure of the country’s Emiratisation policies.

“I began my PhD with a study of Emiratisation,” explains Karam. “As part of my study I looked at the structure and process of localisation globally, which proved to be very different to the UAE’s current system. In Malaysia for example, the government introduced regulations on foreign labor including work permits and employment passes, in China, the focus was on developing and offering development opportunities to the local workforce.

“The UAE faces a different challenge. With a population of 9.68 million and more than 5 million private sector jobs in the UAE alone, there is no doubt that we have the positions available. Making sure that Nationals are being placed in the right positions is the main challenge. Positions that will match their qualifications, suit their needs and benefit the advancement of their country is key. The problem we are facing currently is that these requirements are not being met and many UAE Nationals resigning every year.”

While the public sector continues to traditionally employ UAE Nationals, there is more demand than ever from the private sector to employ and retain young and highly educated Emiratis when leading the market in private sector growth. Karam’s study identified that retention is achieved through growth oriented opportunities and experiences.

“Many UAE Nationals are not content with sitting behind a desk and collecting their salary at the end of every month,” he said. “Our research has shown they want to see career progression and promotion prospects if they are to stay in a position. They also want to be recognized for their achievements and have the support of their co-workers, all of which contributes to job satisfaction and employee commitment.”

Dr Karam interviewed 15 private, public and government sector organisations, and surveyed more than 500 members of the Emirati workforce during his extensive research. Identifying a strong trend towards developing a future Nationalised workforce, he sees Emiratisation and the retention and development of Emirati’s as the only solution in creating a sustainable workforce in the UAE.

“The UAE is now placing more emphasis on directing Nationals towards the economy of the country with the government and educational establishments all on board. Rather than just filling a quota, the focus is now on developing more UAE Nationals than ever for long-term growth and capacity building. ”

Clear examples of this include the UAE Nuclear and Space Programs were the government is committed by offering scholarships and incentives for young Emiratis to fulfill the country’s ambitious vision.

With more research projects in the pipeline he hopes to use his findings to encourage more Emiratis to excel and progress in their careers.

He adds, ““Thanks to UOWD, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to pursue my PhD in Dubai and was determined to produce something that will contribute to the economy and development of my country. Besides the scholarly impact, the results of my study provide important directions for enhancing the success of Emiratisation efforts. I am currently working towards dissemination of my research findings and look forward to working with government and private sector organisations on further research projects, helping to support the development of Emiratis in the workforce for sustainable growth of the UAE economy.”

Supervised by Professors Payyazhi Jayashree, Nicholas Ashill and Valerie Lindsay, Dr Karam’s research thesis passed with high commendation.

His examiners commented that his research shed the light on a region that is understudied and that the topics has a key social impact as localisation is of vital importance to the whole Gulf Region.

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