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Crisis in Dubai

Dubai is one of the seven 'Emirates' that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE) located in the Persian Gulf. Dubai's economy was originally built on the oil industry, but revenues from petroleum and natural gas accounted for less than 10% of the country's US$16.4 billion economy in 2000 as the Emirate has diversified into manufacturing, property and financial services, information technology, and tourism (USA Today, n.d.). However, Dubai is experiencing major challenges during its process of nation building and economic development. One of these challenges facing Dubai is the training and development of its local national human resource to enable nations to take an active role in supporting and contributing to the Emirate's rapid development (Randeree 2009).

According to Dyer and Yousef (2007), the entire region is facing an unemployment crisis. This is because countries in the Middle East region rely heavily on the use of expatriates to underpin their booming economies. Foreign labour in the region is 70% of the work force, with the UAE having the largest percentage of foreign labour at almost 90% (Mashood et al, 2009). According to a report produced by McKinsey and the Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs (MFNCA) in 2007, the private sector in UAE labour market is staffed by 99% expatriates, which causes a level of youth unemployment of UAE nationals to be above 30%.

…a reexamination of policy in the UAE based on the reality of the situation is needed, to culminate in the production of a strategy that reflects the real needs for the nation, rather than achieving Emiratisation through the imposition of targets and quotas based on false expectations (Randeree 2009: 78).

The most significant obstacles to Emiratisation in the workforce as perceived by the 17 senior managers interviewed by Al-Ali (2006) were related to the unavailability of career development prospects, relatively lower standards of education among the nationals, low wage, little or no training and promotion, lack of English language proficiency, and lack of trust in the competence of Emirati nationals. He also identified other obstacles, such as absence of a work culture, attitude to work, and gender issues, which are also important factors in increasing the participation of nationals in the workforce (Al-Ali 2008). Overall, Randeree (2009) notes that the major issue for the government is to engage the country's human resource in education and employment, developing the economy at the same time that Arab and Islamic tradition are respected.

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