Emaar hired Emirati graduates to clean rooms, serve popcorn, sources say 

Dubai’s top developer filled the roles in line with its Emiratization strategy

Lubna Hamdan 2 Min Read

Emaar Hospitality Group, a subsidiary of Dubai’s top developer, Emaar Properties, hired fresh Emirati graduates in housekeeping jobs that saw them clean hotels rooms, carry luggage, and serve popcorn at cinemas as part of a training programme, sources close to the matter told Frankly.

Former employees at the hospitality company said the Emiratis, which were hired for the housekeeping and hospitality roles, held engineering, law, finance and architecture degrees.

They claimed the housekeeping roles were filled in 2018, while the hospitality roles were filled in 2022, as part of the Emaar Graduate Trainees (EGT) programme, which is in line with the company’s Emiratization strategy.

“There were 32 graduates [at Emaar in 2018] – lawyers, civil engineers, finance, architects… they were all in the hospitality side of the company. They were in the housekeeping side. They were actually cleaning bathrooms and rooms,” sources said.

“It was management training, but regardless of whether it was training… even if you had to clean bathrooms, which is part of housekeeping, if it’s a one- or two-time thing, okay. But when it becomes a consistent thing, it’s not cool anymore. If you have an Emirati being a bell boy, carrying luggage, that’s not okay…” sources said. 

They claimed the company hired 122 Emiratis in Q1 2022 to sell popcorn and tickets in the cinema.

They said the positions were eventually changed according to the graduates’ degrees, but that only one of the graduates was hired after the end of the programme, despite delivering high KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] that were monitored by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization, as well as recieving good reviews.

Frankly understands the fresh Emirati graduates had sent an official letter to the authorities at the time to highlight their situation.

In 2018, Emaar Hospitality said it was planning to create more than 5,300 jobs over the next 5 years to support Emiratization.

It said in a statement at the time: “With hospitality professionals from across the world working with us, we take pride in offering a world-class work environment that enables them to progress in their careers”.

It said it aims to provide new guest-facing roles in marketing, sales, finance, HR and more.

Former employees who worked at Emaar praised its competitive environment, but likened it to a warzone. 

“The day you start working at Emaar, they will put you right to work, which is a good thing, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but… it’s like you’re going to a war… It’s survival of the fittest. When it’s work, even if it’s on the weekend, you have to come… There were times when I would go home at 1 or 2am. I was so passionate. I loved Emaar,” sources said.

Emaar Properties did not respond to a request for comment. 

The company is one of the UAE’s most successful developers, with subsidiaries in hospitality, entertainment, and retail. It broke global records when it built the world’s largest shopping mall, Dubai Mall, and the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa. It is listed on the Dubai Financial Market.