We are tired of unemployment: Emiratis say

Subway came under fire for offering citizens ‘sandwich making’ jobs amid Emiratization

Lubna Hamdan 3 Min Read

Emiratis say they are tired of unemployment and low-paying jobs after companies such as Subway put out an ad offering citizens ‘sandwich making’ roles amid the country’s effort to ensure private sector companies are made up of 10% Emiratis.

The ad, which said Subway is “now hiring Emirati men and women for sandwich making jobs…” has been retracted by the franchise owner the Kamal Jamjoom retail group, which apologized for “misspelling” the job. 

It now has a new ad on its website offering sales executive roles for Emiratis, with “immediate hiring, only 5 working days, incentive programs, full medical insurance, and training and development programmes.” Its brands include cosmetics giant The Body Shop and sleepwear brand Nayomi, as well as toys company Early Learning Centre.

But Dr Sultan Almoathen, a former government official, said on Twitter that the ad “mocked citizens” and was an attack on Emiratis.

“Offering such jobs (showing contempt and mocking citizens) is evidence of some expats’ hatred and envy against us [Emiratis]. Our country has been good to them but unfortunately, we always witness an attack on our nation and leaders… these jobs are considered an attack on locals. 

“Locals first. We are tired of unemployment,” he said.

Just yesterday, the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MoHRE) warned the private sector must meet the 2% Emiratization target set by the government.

“The ministry is closely monitoring the Emiratisation-related procedures, which companies are following, as well as the types of jobs they are offering to UAE nationals. However, we stress that for companies to achieve their Emiratisation targets, it is necessary that they employ Emiratis in skilled jobs,” the MoHRE said onTwitter.

If they fail to do so, they will be fined anywhere near AED6,000 a month to AED72,000 a year.

Locals first 

Twitter users are still accusing the Kamal Jamjoom company of “corporate trolling”.

Emirati researcher Mira Al Hussein tweeted, “At this rate, I think this is corporate trolling. I think all jobs are emiratiseable and should be. You want to reclaim your country, start there. But this isn’t a job for graduates. This is casual employment for high schoolers looking to earn pocket money”.

Twitter user @HMidfa shared a picture of the Subway ad and said, “Has the lack of administrative, financial and technical jobs led us to the point of ‘making sandwiches’???!!!”

While other Twitter users said all jobs are respectable, they questioned whether such professions are suitable for Emiratis, which make up only 11% of the UAE’s total population. 

“We don’t underestimate any profession that is respectable and through which a person can earn his livelihood. But is it suitable for the Emirati citizen [in terms of] the job environment and the salary… through my experience in the field of Emiratization, these private companies are trying to take advantage of the government support provided to citizens and benefit from it… citizens deserve better than this,” said Twitter user Khaled Bin Amer Al Ashkhari said.

The UAE offers citizens a one-year salary support of up to AED8,000 a month during training and monthly support of up to AED5,000 for five years for university students. The initiative aims to ensure that Emiratis make up 10% of private sector companies by 2026.

Limited thinking or limited opportunity?

On the other hand, some Emirati users accused citizens of being “narrow-minded” when it comes to employment.

“My dear brother, my friend is Emirati and he was probably the first Emirati to have worked in a coffee shop in one of the shopping malls in Dubai, and [while] he didn’t find it suitable… he worked hard and they took care of him and they used to fly him on the company account and he was promoted. MY brother, we are small-minded and our thinking is limited. The flaw is in us, not in a job or a location,” said Ahmed Mubarak.

Another user @sa3mad1 said, “As they say, nobody is forced to work or take up that job. It’s the gov[ernment] forcing down 2% req[uirements] so org[anizations] can make employees stae at a blank screen the whole day… Also, there is no shame in honest work, so pls stop discouraging from starting small” to which Mira Al Hussein argued, “Not at all, not discouraging people from exploring different jobs and learning about organisations’ different functions from the bottom up. But graduates from all over leave such jobs and come to the UAE for better opportunities. Why should Emirati graduates contend with less?” she said.

The Kamal Jamjoom group claims on its website it is “proud to employ 65% Saudi Nationals in Saudi Arabia”. The group is based in the UAE and registered in Saudi Arabia. It employs over 3,500 people.