Sheik Mohammed presents UAE development plan
The International Herald Tribune reports:
One of the United Arab Emirates top leaders urged the country's citizens on Tuesday to stop relying on government handouts and reduce number of foreign workers, who he said threaten national security.The Gulf News coverage is here. Additional coverage by GN:
During a speech, Dubai leader Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum outlined a strategy that he said would make the Emirates one of the world's most developed countries — just days after The World Economic Forum identified the Gulf country the as the Arab world's most competitive economy.
His strategy called for major improvements in the country's educational and justice systems as well as reducing the dominant foreign work force that, Sheik Mohammed said, discourages Emirati citizens from taking private sector jobs.
Sheik Mohammed, who was named federal prime minister and vice president last year, said he would personally oversee the country's work force. He put the ministers of Justice, Education, Health and Labor on notice that their jobs depended on meeting his goals for improvements and their ministries would be benchmarked against international best practices.
The speech seemed to give the dynamic Sheik Mohammed a broader role in federal affairs, overshadowing the country's head of state, Sheik Khalifa, who sat in the audience. Sheik Mohammed called for more integration of the autonomous emirates with the federal government in Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest of the seven.
Sheik Mohammed said he wanted to reduce foreign labor and influences in a country where some 85 percent of the country's 5 million population is foreign, while moving citizens into the private sector's top posts.
He called for an immediate end to foreign labor in "marginal economic activities" and described the 300,000 illegal laborers in the country as a national security threat.
At the same time, he chastised Emirati families for hiring too many maids and domestic servants — which form 10 percent of the labor force.
"The number of domestic helpers in some families exceeds the size of the family itself," he said. "Most families maintain a number of domestic help which is beyond their actual need."
Too many able-bodied Emiratis are living off government handouts, he added.
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