Monday, November 20, 2006

I was so naive

It has been almost five months since I got back from my spell abroad and , except for the first month, I have been actively searching for a job in my field of study. For explanation purposes lets just say that I have studied something which is highly sought after in this city.

Now the interesting thing is that I haven’t even had an interview yet, let alone finding a job. I am not about to debate my shortcomings in my search for employment but I would like to shed some light on the politics, racism, nepotisim and Wasta involved in this process.

It was a complete eye opening experience for me. Even though I have lived my whole life in this city and I have always heard people around me complaining about the situation, I never truly realised its seriousness until I personally encountered it.

I have always known Dubai is an openly discriminatory society but no amount of preparation cushions the impact of a tonne of bricks crashing down on you.

What have I realised? :

  • Some industries are run by particular nationalities and have a huge preference for their own kind. Eg. the advertising market here is predominantly run by Lebanese. HP in Dubai is full of Egyptians. Gold market is dominated by Gujratis (Indians)Etc.
  • A lot of companies do not even consider you PURELY on the fact that you hail from XXXX and they just don’t like people from that country. I had a meeting a recruitment consultant at a very reputable recruitment agency in Dubai and she mentioned how she regularly encounters HR mangers who explicitly state that they do not want Indians, Lebanese, Iranian e.t.c
  • Nepotism.
    Do I need to say more?
  • Wasta.
    If you have lived in Dubai for more than a week you will have already become very acquainted with what used to be a very foreign word. If you do not have wasta in the job market you are going to find it VERY VERY hard to get a shot at anything.
  • Acceptance of graduates.
    Unlike other major international cities, Dubai is not very acceptant of graduates. For e.g there are only 5 companies that I know of who have a graduate recruitment/placement program. The impression I get is that most companies perceive graduates to be someone who has a lack of experience and needs training. Basically an expense. In the major international city where I studied, graduates where viewed as a ‘clean slate’ that can be moulded to perfectly suit a company. Basically an asset.

I was rather naïve in thinking that I can get a job purely on my merits and abilities. I guess I was wrong.


Sex and Dubai said...

The situation is changing slowly but surely. The job market is booming and its not too difficult to network in this city yet. Get a move on with the networking and hopefully things will fall into place. One thing is for sure - its a hell of a lot easier for women to get jobs in Dubai.

blogrosh said...

ALE - you are very correct. This ways of working is sadly true. I am not sure how this whole "mafia" groups emerged in the first place.

My brother, who graduated from Columbia returned to Dubai in 2003 and it took him almost 3 years to get a decent job which matched his educational background.

Whilst seeking employment in Dubai, he encountered word for word (and beyond) as you've detailed on this blog.

Even though now, he is employed, there is this specific nationality "mafia" who seem to be causing troubles at work, since they want to bring in one of their "own".

The sad thing is, souls like us, born, raised in the UAE - do not belong with any nationalities or with the Emiratis', hence are subject to discrimination/disadvantages from both ends?

I hope this changes in the future for Dubai and the UAE. There are several western educated, highly skilled and brilliant, UAE born individuals out there, who truly want to do their best for this country's economy and future, but have no help or guidance except from a few good intentional recruiters.

ps: i know several recruiters of a world renowned recruiting firm now with an office in Dubai, feel free to email me and i shall sent you their contact information.

tobasco said...

You said it best. Unfortunately you need a bit of wasta for someone just to have a look at your CV.I graduated from UK and felt helpless when I came back to UAE, so I left and went back to the UK.

Maybe oneday when I do have ENOUGH experience I'll end up there again.

localexpat said...


hmmm that will be an interesting idea. I think I will take you up on your offer..but thing is i can't find your email address to send you an email...even checked your profile...

blogrosh said...

click on my blog name

localexpat said...

NOPE still no email on your profile... or on your blog

click on my profile and you will find my email...just send it for me please..would really appreciate it

clayfuture said...

The employment situation in this country will never change. It's very rare that a freshman can immediately get a job after graduation. Almost all job vacancy ads look for 2-3 yrs experience. They don't want to waste time on training new recruits.

Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

I think that getting a job from the outside is easier than looking inside Dubai. Have you considered marketing yourself to companies in your home country as someone who would work well in the market? Can I ask what industry you'd like to work in? Do you speak Arabic? Urdu? Farsi?

When I was teaching in Dubai, I started to look at language academies to see what was out there. The manager told me that if I really wanted to work in Dubai outside of the schools and universities, and I saw myself advancing into management, I would need to learn Arabic. I think from her perspective (she ran the Berlitz academy on Beach Road) it was more useful in dealing with prospective students, adults, parents, etc.

blogrosh said...

Hi ALE, did you get my email?

btw what industry are you interested in?

zaf said...

I am from Pakistan and worked here since 1998. When I came in '98 the situation was almost same as you described. I found a job after running from pillar to post for 3 months just before the expiry of my visit visa, was lucky and by the way I landed up that job because some one known to me told me that a job is available at that particular place, I walked in there and presented the concerned person with my CV.

Since that fateful day in September '98 I worked with the same organization without any raise and worked hard, gained experience but only experience. I didnt have any friends when came here and dont have many now either (kind of shy person) during these 8 years applied at many places but never got a single reply. Just last month got an opportunity and now have changed my job and working in another company with much better salary and this opportunity came across because someone who was working with my previous organization has called me to join him in my new company because they are expanding.

Why I told you my complete story is to tell you that you are correct when you say it is difficult to land a job wihtout wasta but at the same time if you sit down do a little bit of research on the net and news papaers find out the names of the companies in the industry you want to work and then start visiting the HR department of those companies again and again you will find one. Try to locate someone know in those companies with any I mean any reference and go there. This will show that your are willing to work and work hard, this will show that you are a go getter and this demonstration of your abilities will provide you with the start that you require.

Let me warn you the approach I have told you is tough but it works, it worked for me and it worked for many whom I advised.

Good Luck with your job hunt.

Balushi said...

Its everywhere the same!

I know an Feminst european women, and all her employees in europe and dubai are all from her country and they are ALL WOMEN.


Balushi said...

Thanks God women cant drill yet! otherwise we all men be out of jobs by 2020!

Pls NO PINK drilling machines!!! - or else we men have shot ourselves on the foot

The situation is already bad enough.

Arabized said...

so what are you going to do next? would you ever think of leaving the UAE and maybe seek out a job in the US or Canada?

ArabLady said...

la tishkili la ma ebkilak!

ArabLady said...

"so what are you going to do next? would you ever think of leaving the UAE and maybe seek out a job in the US or Canada"

oh come on ...Local Expant plz be patient ok takes time darling!

localexpat said...

leaving dubai ....
That choice might benefit me financially.... but money is not every thing in life and no amount of money in the world can make me feel at home like I do in Dubai...

Nothing comes easy in life. And the more you suffer for it, the more you will cherish it.

archer14 said...

The points you have elaborated hit the mark. Especially the last point. I was under the impression that this country welcomed graduates. But as days pass I have come to the conclusion that only very well paid, higher level jobs are in need of graduates. For the rest, diploma in something or the other would do. Primarily because the people at the top, the ones who recruit - don't want graduates who might topple them sometime in the future - even though the idea may seem ludicrous.

So how exactly do you find a job? List your best qualities on paper and place an ad. Go for as many interviews as you can, without wasting a single moment. Always ask the employer to name the designation of the job, as most non graduate jobs here have no designation.

Doubleletter said...

This is a poor place for starters to start.

What's worse is that companies don't seem to value students who've studied in the UAE

Icapital said...

I agree with whatever has been said 100% here.

My company hires only Indians or Egyptians. None other than these both. My company which happens to be the same as my blog name here, is doing big projects in healthcare, information technology, construction, billing etc. One of the reason why they hire only these nationalities is because they dont stand up guard their own rights. Result: NO HEATLH INSURANCE, SALARIES BEING PAID ONCE IN 3 MONTHS.

Sheer exploitation of the workers who come here to make their so called BETTER LIFES!!!!!!