The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to spend 24 billion dirhams (US$6.5 billion) on a package of benefits and subsidies designed to reduce citizen unemployment by making private-sector jobs more attractive.
As in much of the Persian 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 fill most private-sector jobs.
The measures the UAE government announced on 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 programs, 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 COVID-19 pandemic.
Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a UAE political science professor, said the government should not 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 percent last year from 2.2 percent a year earlier, according to the latest estimates from the World Bank, which did not break down citizen joblessness.
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