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Emiratis drawn to private sector by remote working rules, says bank chief

Some private companies now offer more flexibility than public sector employers

Staff Report

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Flexible hours and remote working conditions will attract more young Emiratis to join the private sector, a senior banking executive said on Wednesday.

Abdulla Qassem, group chief operating officer with Emirates NBD, said one of the main hurdles to enticing Emiratis from the public sector was the perception of longer working hours and inflexibility – but that’s changing.

The success of remote working has seen the many firms continue to offer a hybrid working, with staff in the office for part of the week and operating from home for the remainder.

“I would say the biggest challenge we have in attracting Emiratis to work in the private sector is the working hours,” Mr Qassem told The National.

“However, one thing the private sector has done well recently is in offering more flexibility to work remotely.

“That’s making private companies more appealing. Another factor is there are many opportunities for promotions and advancement in the private sector.”

Flexible working is seen as a major factor in attracting and retaining talent. In May, tech firm Cisco found 61 per cent of UAE professionals would be less likely to look for a new job if they could split their work between the office and home.

Skills to match needs

Mr Qassem was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the National Digital Talent Programme at Dubai’s Museum of the Future.

The scheme aims to help Emirati interns over the next four years to be versed in future technologies, to bolster the UAE’s National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence.

The goal of the project is to create a generation of Emiratis who are skilled in AI-related technologies.

“The number of Emiratis working in the private sector is still comparatively low,” said Mr Qassem.

Omar Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications speaking during the launch of Emirates NBD ‘National Digital Talent Program’ to support UAE’s ambition to be a leader in Artificial Intelligence by 2031 held at Museum of the Future in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Speaking at the same event, Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Digital Economy, AI and Remote Work Applications, said technology is changing many well-established industries.

“We have seen throughout the years that certain sectors have been completely transformed because of technology,” he said.

“Sectors like aviation, automobiles and transport are becoming technology-driven.”

Rather than being replaced by the increased use of artificial intelligence, he said workers will be empowered by advancements in technology.

“We do not believe in the UAE that humans are going to be replaced by technology,” he said.

“What we do believe is that humans are going to find themselves enabled by technology to create the future we want to live in,” Mr Al Olama said.

He said the UAE government is striving to develop talented citizens by enabling them to learn and train with leading companies, to enhance their ability to work and lead various sectors and raise the level of the nation’s digital economy.

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