Thursday, January 24, 2008

Investing in people

Dear Readers: What are your thoughts about why UAE employers invest so little in their employees? Or is it just a myth that they don't?

Here's what Avishesha Bhojani, CEO of the newly branded BPG – formerly Bates Pan Gulf Advertising – had to say in a recent interview with Emirates Business 24/7:

Talking about talents, there has been a lot of talk about it but with no specific details. What is the problem?
The issue of talent is the biggest challenge. The biggest gap is the shortage of Arabic-speaking talent in public relations and communications. No one is interested in training and professionally trained people are rare.

At the end of the day, if there is a high demand for professional performance, delivery and satisfaction, why is finding talented people such an issue?
Let me put it bluntly. Historically, the advertising training for Arabs used to happen in Beirut. Today Lebanon is in trouble. In Dubai, no one trains. Dubai wants ready-made people. If you want good people of Indian origin there is enough training happening in India. If you want good people of British origin, there is enough training in Britain. But for native Arabs, that is not the case. Dubai needs to invest in training talented Arabs with potential. And if that is happening at all, it is not at the pace that can satisfy the demand and growth acceleration in the UAE. Why should people get trained in Lebanon, Jordan or Egypt if they will work in Dubai or elsewhere in the UAE?

So what should be done about training Arab talent?
Investment in advertising and public relations training is the key. Last year I hired six fresh native Arab graduates from the journalism and marketing programme at the American University of Sharjah and I trained them. Even though at the end of the year two of them left, I still have four and it is still worth it. Even if I had ended up with two at the end, it would have been passable.
Read the full interview here.

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Blogger i*maginate said...

"why UAE employers invest so little in their employees?"


investment = employee x colour

2:31 AM  
Blogger Dubai Entrepreneur said...

I will tell you why. It's because employees have absolutely no loyalty. Everyone coming here has a short-term agenda. Why should I invest in someone who will leave me in a year? It makes absolutely no sense.

I have always believed in training and still do. We do internal training, but I do not invest in seminars/conferences/workshops/etc. as they are simply not going to give me a return on my investment.

The Dubai culture is that of instant gratification. Don't expect your employer to invest in you when he/she knows that you are not willing to invest back.

11:52 AM  
Blogger bklyn_in_dubai said...

offtopic, but curious -- do you have any info on the extent of companies paying employees according to different scales by nationality for similar work? you can just email me

2:22 AM  
Blogger Dubai Entrepreneur said...

I don't know why people continue to think its about your race or gender. It's about negotiating power, combined with the perceived required incentive to have them work here vs. home.

10 years ago, there was very little you needed to do to persuade an Indian national to work in the Gulf. The economy in India wasn't great and Indians traditionally compete on price. Today, the Indian economy is doing great and GCC employers have to provide much higher incentives to persuade an Indian national to leave home and work here.

It has nothing to do with your skin color. It simply has to do with the economy of your home country.

For the record, at my company, I have pre-defined salaries per position, regardless of who fills it. It just so happens that some positions will never be filled by a Norwegian, because they don't pay enough for him/her to leave their home country.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many employers seem to have a fascination with "stuff." Want to spend 1.5 million on a data warehouse? "No problem - make it happen."

Do you want to hire an Indian DBA for 8,000 AED/month? "We don't have funds for that."

Want to hire a western consultant? "No problem make it happen." And --- don't forget to shower the consultant with lavish gifts.

And PS --- make sure you remember to order gift diaries for our guests, this year.

In my opinion - human capital is a commodity in the UAE economy.

9:22 AM  
Blogger hut said...

I agree with Dubai Entrepreneur.

No employee has an intrinsic worth.
There is no reason to pay someone more than they need to maintain their lifestyle both abroad and 'at home'.
Eventually most expats will return to their home countries and retire.
Costs of living and housing in those home countries determine salary expectations.
I understand headhunters call this principle 'keeping the expat life whole'.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting comment:

"Investment in advertising and public relations training is the key. "

The classic Wendy's tag line, "Where's the beef," comes to mind.

Eventually, employers will come to the UAE - and will be looking for more than slogans and hi-rises.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on experience i can comment on the media and advertising industry.

Almost 100% of the professionals atleast in the UAE are expat (Both Arab, Western and Asians).

Considering the immediacy at hand, there is not much room for good freshers.Typically the junior ranks are filled on criterias ranging from nepotism to appearance and all that one could imagine.

The nationals atleast the smarter ones are having better opportunities in the public sector and other emerging industries such as banking, real estate etc which pay better and offer easier work hours.

Therefore till the scenario emerges where nationals start coming into the industry out of genuine interest in advertising and media, status quo would continue

1:30 PM  

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