Gulf News reports: Under the Labour Law of the UAE,
work shall be an inherent right of UAE nationals. If national employees are not available, preference in employment shall be given to Arab workers and then to workers of other nationalities.
In fact, in practice the UAE has shown preference for non-Arab laborers. Arab laborers can claim a sense of obligation and are seen as a potentially politically threatening group in large numbers. (Recall that 3 in 4 residents are non-nationals.) The use of Arab laborers was reduced at the time of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait; they showed symphathies with the invasion.
The GN continues, pointing out an inconsistency:
"UAE constitution provides for equality before the law without regard to race, nationality, or social status. It prohibits discrimination in every aspect of the employment relationship, including hiring, firing, promotions, job training or any other employment term," Dr Al Rokn, also a human rights activist, said.
Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaiba, a Dubai-based legal consultant, said the clause in the Labour Law that treats workers more advantageously on the basis of their nationality is unconstitutional and breaks international labour rules.
Employers commit racial discrimination when they offer jobs on the basis of race, nationality or any personal attributes, a senior labour official said....
"Companies must not seek workers of certain nationalities and jobs must be offered on the basis of qualifications and experience," the source said.
He was commenting on advertisements published in local newspapers seeking workers of certain nationalities. "Mentioning the nationality of a worker required to fill in a vacancy breaks the Labour Law, because it implies racial discrimination."
Gulf News is among those papers that regularly take job adverts like this:
Accountant cum Receptionist, female, Indian, computer literate, with experience, on husband's sponsorship, required for a construction Co. Send CV + photo to: 04-340xxxx / firstname.lastname@example.org
Other times the selection is more subtle:
"We are now seeing advertisements boldly seeking recruitment of workers of certain nationalities. Previously, the illegal practice was disguised by seeking US-educated or UK-educated employees," Majid Abdullah, an engineer said.
S. Kumar, an Indian accountant, said he cannot understand why employees are discriminated against because of their passports. "What does a passport have to do with skills and qualifications required for a certain job?" he asked.
All emphasis above is added. Thanks to KC of Teachco for the link.
ANALYSIS. Economists find it difficult to tell a story of discrimination between equally-qualified job seekers without encountering the contradiction that discrimination on the part of the employer lowers the employer's profit. We are left coming back to the idea that the job seekers are only seemingly equally qualified. (Other possibilities include that the manager is not acting in the best interest of the owner, or that it is the customers of the firm that are willing to pay to exercise their prejudices.)
Many firms, or departments of firms in the UAE are sorted by nationality or ethnicity. I suspect this has to do with the degree of trust (or ability to punish misbehavior) when a working group is all of one group. At my workplace physical plant is dominated by one ethnicity, the janitors by another, the gardeners by another, housing and transit by another, IT by another.
The one group that is diverse is the faculty (although we do use the requirement of a US-degree as a screen). Thus, in my department alone we have (by birth) two native born Americans, two Bolivians, two Egyptians, one Jordanian, one Korean, one Sri Lankan, one Armenian, one Iranian, and one Kiwi. Our commonality is the religion of Economics. Come the fall we'll have two more Iranians and a Turk. All have US PhDs, except the Kiwi. I'll still be the only Anglo.