03 October, 2006

Racial discrimination in the UAE

Scroll down and you'll find SANS' posting "Equal Opportunity", where there's a lively debate based on the employment advertisement chosen to illustrate discrimination.

I think that, unfortunately, the wrong ad was chosen to illustrate a very valid point - that racism and racial discrimination are rife in the region and steps need to be taken to stamp them out. There are many more blatant examples of discrimination in employment and I've posted several examples on my blog, here. If you don't have time to go there, how about these examples from today's Gulf News:




These are blatant examples of discrimination, very specific in the nationality or ethnicity required of applicants, but they're quite legal in the UAE.

It's a long, hard road to change people's attitudes but legislation is a good place to start.

20 comments:

Mme Cyn said...

As you say, a sad reflection on society. However, do note that the "Arab nationals" ads are in part at least because the government has put minimum quotas on hiring locals. I can't tell you how many good people my own place of employment lost because we were forced to replace them with locals in the last two years... four that I can think of off the top of my head!

Seabee said...

Not sure that's absolutely accurate mme cyn. If they want specifically Emiratis they tend to say 'Emirati' or 'UAE National' in the ads.

The more general 'Arab nationals' or 'Arab' mean just that.

trailingspouse said...

Seabee you need to do the setup thingy on the UAE Community Blog home page to make your name link to your blog. It's the green button on the left hand side.

bizzwhizz said...

this is not only in jobs but also business. UAE isnt a fair ground anyway most iniatives are for locals then arabs then western citizens and then asians. Even the local incubation services like intilaaq or ABNA have tags of race
-www.bizzwhizzdubai.com

Seabee said...

trailingspouse thanks - that's another thing I'd missed seeing.

Mme Cyn said...

Seabee -- True enough. I stand corrected. I have always read "Arab" as "Emirati" in these ads because of the quota law. Maybe they just want a native Arabic speaker?

(Uh-oh -- here goes the "English Editor" discussion again!)

Seabee said...

mme cyn it's fascinating to read through the ads to see the variations, which can be quite precise. There are jobs for Arabic speaker, Arab, Arab national, UAE National, Emirati,and other specific Arab nationalities.

Tim Newman said...

There's nothing racist about requiring certain nationalities for certain positions. Indeed, I think a private company should be able to employ whomever it likes without justification and advertise accordingly.

However, there is something inherently stupid about trying to recruit somebody proficient in the English language who has passed through the UK education system. They'd be better off recruiting Indians.

Tim Newman said...

It's a long, hard road to change people's attitudes but legislation is a good place to start.

On the contrary, legislation is probably the very worst place to start. You cannot legislate against somebody's attitude, you can only educate and inform.

Anonymous said...

oh don't be sensitive, some jobs require people from certain background, if I want a secretary who will be typing my Arabic letter, I will definitly say "Arabic secretary" rather than put just secretary and get all unecessary calls.
But if I had a company and only hired a specific nationality, then you may use the ward "racist".
So lighten up and don't be so paranoid.
And Void, when there is a qualified local person to fill a particular job, then I think its fair for them to be given the priority, lets be reasonable now.

trailingspouse said...

I disagree, Tim. It's a two-pronged approach. Legislation sends a message that something like this is unacceptable. It doesn't change attitudes overnight, but it is the first step. In the west, would we have got people to wear seatbelts or persuaded them that drinking and driving was unacceptable without legislation? I doubt it.

Tim Newman said...

In the west, would we have got people to wear seatbelts or persuaded them that drinking and driving was unacceptable without legislation? I doubt it.

I disagree. It was massive educational campaigns which drove people to put on seatbelts and not drink and drive, not legislation. Besides that, they were generally accepted by most people as sensible things to do. The latter whould be legislated against, as it causes direct harm to other individuals.

Legislation sends a message that something like this is unacceptable.

Unacceptable to whom? Not to me, it isn't. If a private employer wants a certain nationality in a position he should be free to advertise accordingly. Any employer with half a brain will not do this unnecessarily.

Tim Newman said...

As a good example as to why legislating to control attitudes is a bad idea, consider the recent proposals to outlaw discrimination by age in the workplace. It has a whole raft of unintended consequences which the dunderheads who draw up these things failed to take into account.

No, legislation is the answer to almost nothing. Education is.

grasshopper said...

Legislation only really works in civilized societies. Education is a good place to start to civilize people, as Tim rightly points out.

*grins*

Quite a lot of the 'native english speaking' nationalists have to be educated first - that they understand what the law is trying to tell them. It ain't worth it though; no matter how hard you kick, an ass will always be an ass - never a horse.

poh nigga said...

"There's nothing racist about requiring certain nationalities for certain positions."

Such as, "Filipino Web Designer required for British Property Company."

No, racism was never in the picture. No country should legislate against such advertisements. The UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand et al should immediately repeal their incredibly stupid, self defeating and counterproductive laws on this subject. How did such legislation come about and how come these laws were passed? The government and citizenry of these countries must be really stupid to have such laws.

Way to go, UAE! Show the rest of the world how it should be done.

Seabee said...

Tim I agree that the absolutely vital, most important thing in changing attitudes is education, via all available channels. But legislation has its place because it makes people stop and think.

Seat belts for example. I'd bet that as many people use them because they may be fined if they don't as people who use them because they give added safety.

Slagothor said...

Trailingspouse, why do you feel that this is "unacceptable"?

When somebody hires somebody else, they are basically buying the services of the employee. Why should the buyer not be completely free to exercise his own preferences about whose labour he wants to buy?

When you go to a shop and buy something you exercise your free choices. Nobody says that you have to consider buying Danish or French or British or New Zealand or Saudi butter - you simply buy what you want. Likewise, if I want to hire somebody, and I want to hire a 38-year old Latvian with red hair and a limp, why should anybody force me to hire somebody different?

Consider that by voluntarily restricting his choices, a person is reducing the chance that he might discover something good, and similarly, a firm that restricts its hiring choices is losing out on the chance of hiring a really good employee that does not fit their preconceived wishes. But that is their choice. They are hurting themselves, and nobody else.

Please don't turn this part of the world into a Euro-style PC nanny state, with enforced egalitarianism and legislated niceness.

Lirun said...

i think its a combination of both.. norms without sanction (whether legal or social) are not really norms.. and much less are they rules.. they are mere trends or fads..

i remember the car crash ads when i was a kid and i recall times when "buckling up" was considered dorky.. but i must confess i think the risk of a fine is more persuasive..

tada la el/hamdilla i have never been in a serious car accident and so arguably have never really relied on my belt.. however the thought of a fine is very discouraging to a blet-less ride.. even though it is much easier for me to foresake $100 than it is my skull..

i think the lithmus test is bicycle helmets.. not really enforced as rigorously by the authorities and my impression is that the educational campaigns have not been as successful..

it would seem to me that as societies we require both.. how do you instil a value system of equality through education anyway.. our education systems are all about comparative grading.. we dont really ever get meaningful qualitative feedback.. its normally a number.. and at the end of the day this is how our society judges us..

interesting points nonetheless..

wishing it were different..

trailingspouse said...

Ads which specify nationality in the UAE are generally a veiled attempt to discriminate on the basis of race. I simply believe that discriminating against people because of their race, creed, colour, gender, age, sexual orientation (and probably a few other things I can't think of right now) is morally wrong. And I don't think you can compare buying the services of a person with buying butter. People should not be treated like commodities.

Canuck said...

TS said ".... discriminating against people because of their race, creed, colour, gender, age, sexual orientation.....is morally wrong."

Way to go, TS!! That's in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and I sure am proud that it's there!

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