The United Arab Emirates has achieved great success in developing its hospitality industry and its general economy. The country however is faced with a big challenge of having its local citizens work and feel part of the growing hospitality industry. The biggest part of the problem is that while the hospitality industry should be a social institution that is embedded into the culture of the host country, it is not viewed as such and there are various reasons for that. The current situation is quite worrisome because the expatriates who make up the biggest percentage of the Emiratis are also the majority of workers in the industry holding about 91% of all jobs in the public sector. Trying to make the hospitality industry to be acceptable to the local people is primarily hindered by the Western countries’ influence on the management practices. The lack of integration of religious and cultural ideals into the industry makes careers in the industry not favorable to locals.
Dubai, one of the Emirates that form the UAE has strategically positioned itself as an icon of tourism in the Gulf region. Consistently seeking to be bigger and better, Dubai is home to world famous icons such as the largest shopping mall in the world as well as home to the only seven star hotel. Despite all these, most of the tourist attractions do not focus on maintaining the cultural touch of the Emirate. This means that Dubai’s tourism and hospitality in general lacks the sense of identity especially the Islamic principles that would distinguish it from other places. Integrating the Islamic principles into the industry would entail having hotels and other tourist attractions that comply with the Islamic law like it is done in a country like Kuwait. Such compliance includes having uniforms and dress codes for the staff, serving only foods acceptable in Islam, and having prayer rooms available among others. This would especially attract tourists who travel to experience the culture and appreciate the local lifestyle.
Among all the Gulf States, UAE is arguably the most dependent on expatriate labor. The majority of the people are expatriates who hold the most jobs while a significant number of Emiratis remain unemployed. One of the key problems for the variation is the lack of confidence to compete with the expatriates. Requirements for limited commitment to religious and cultural practices at the expense of a job as well as the irregular working hours has also made many Emiratis to shy away from working in the industry. There have been programs initiated by the government to emiratise the industry by motivating the nationals to pursue careers in hospitality. Other than Emiratization of the locals, there should be a shift from the traditionally required hard skills to the now required soft skills. To succeed in the hospitality industry, one would require one to have better presentation and interpersonal skills.
In coming up with ways to Emiratise the locals, there needs to be...