One of the UAE's most respected lawyers has said an effort to tackle the jobless rate among the country's citizens by imposing quotas on private sector firms has failed to cut unemployment.
Habib Al Mulla, who has helped draft a number of laws in the UAE, said as many as one-in-five nationals had been found to be unemployed by previous research and Emiratisation efforts are failing to make a substantial dent in that figure. 
“The UAE national population is estimated to be just under one million - and the estimated unemployment rate is 20.8 per cent of the national population. Now this is shocking, particularly in a country that provides over five million jobs,” Al Mulla said in remarks made to the Arabian Business Forum in Dubai yesterday.
“To put this in a comparative context, the eurozone unemployment rate rose in 2012 to 11.8 per cent and that was considered the highest rate on record at the time,” he added.
Government-led efforts to get more Emiratis into private sector by imposing employment quotas in certain industries were well-intentioned but ultimately “do not tackle the roots of the problem ”, Al Mulla said - not least because in some cases private firms were making every effort to “circumvent” the rules governing Emiratisation.
With the public sector “overburdened”, Al Mulla said the true solution to unemployment among nationals was better education and training and an effort to equip Emiratis with the skills most in demand among private firms.
However, private firms could do more to tailor their packages to UAE nationals, he said. Advertising positions as coming with housing allowances and annual air tickets home “means nothing” to nationals, Al Mulla cautioned. He said it was a “fact” that some private sector firms discriminate against UAE nationals.
“However, the key solution to this is not by imposing quotas,” he said.