UAE ups its appeal to post-pandemic talent

The UAE is developing a long-term strategy to make the Gulf state more attractive as a place for global talent to live, work and retire.

Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, said in an interview with Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National that recruiting overseas skills remained crucial to accelerating the UAE's economic growth.The minister revealed that an "ecosystem" was being developed - to include elements such as remote working and long-term residency schemes - to boost the UAE's appeal to global talent."Skilled human capital lies at the heart of economic growth and competitiveness, and this is especially true in the era of the knowledge economy," Dr Al Zeyoudi said."It is therefore of vital importance to attract foreign talents to complement our national homegrown talents and drive our knowledge economy."We aim to increase the share of knowledge workers and skilled human capital of our overall population and workforce, in order to satisfy the current and future demand of the UAE jobs sector."We aim to build an ecosystem where foreign talents are incentivised to stay for long-term durations...retire in the country and build roots for their children here."The scheme represents the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at encouraging overseas workers to relocate to the UAE. In January, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced plans to allow non-Emiratis to obtain UAE citizenship for the first time and, in March, the Cabinet agreed the introduction of residence permit for remote workers.The UAE needed to take action after thousands of expats had left the state because of the pandemic. Recently, S&P Global Ratings estimated that the UAE had seen an 8.4 per cent population decline because expats had been forced to return home due to the pandemic, though the claim was subsequently denied by authorities.Wes Schwalje, chief operating officer of Dubai-based research firm Tahseen Consulting, told Arabian Business that, based on data from India’s Foreign Ministry, anywhere between four and ten per cent of the 3.4 million strong India diaspora community had returned to India because of the pandemic.“With around 300,000 or so British expats working throughout the Gulf pre-pandemic, it is likely anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 returned home due to the pandemic-driven slowdown,” he added.But Mr Schwalje added: “It remains a great place for young professionals to accelerate their careers. If the global financial crisis of 2008 is any precedent of how things might unfold, there will be a very strong inflow of British expats back to the region when normalcy returns."Dr Al Zeyoudi said the specialist skills that the UAE wanted to attract included innovative research and creative talents, entrepreneurial talents and "all other segments of knowledge workers".He said: "Talent comes in many forms, and we welcome talented individuals from all backgrounds and nationalities. The UAE has long recognised the importance of foreign talent to its economic growth and, in fact, has long been an appealing destination for aspiring and experienced foreign talented individuals."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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