Monday, March 15, 2010

The top 5 marketing mistakes of Dubai #4: Stop lying to your staff

There is a culture of self-affirmation which is prevalent in this country and it is at a silly level.

I am going to be very blunt in this post but someone has to say what all others are thinking:

Stop awarding each other with 'best xyz' awards which no one else is competing in!

Every year, you hear of Shaikha X winning Humanitarian of the Year type awards from their fellow UAE nationals.

You'll also hear of the lip-service (which is a silly term to be used in today's innuendo laden English) being given to the oft-touted 'Emiratisation' movement.

This is the government's attempt at ensuring the local i.e. UAE National working-age adults get jobs in roles across industries in the country. Guess what, it ain't happening.

Why? Lets look at this closely:

Total UAE population: 6 million
Total UAE Nationals: 990,000 (although this is disputed given the number of older UAE nationals who refuse to divulge information no the number of females in their homes due to cultural norms)

Lets take away, say, 10% of that number as 'elderly', which leaves us with 891,000.

Take away 20% of them who are below the legal working age of 18, leaving us with 693,000.

Now, take away those UAE nationals who have family businesses, and / or are quite well-off enough to not have to work at all. I'll put this number at 5% not wanting to take a shot in the dark by putting a larger percentage, despite us knowing its probably the case. That leaves us with:


The total number of working expatriots in the UAE is approx. 4 million. Even with the most aggressive Nationalisation scheme, this means they would still only be filling less than 20% of the required number because of nothing other than their total local population.

This doesn't take into account the fact that it seems unfathomable to everyone including UAE nationals that they would want to work in anything other than a job that pays over AED 4,000, which is what a majority of the workforce in the above 4 million earn.

Without benefits.

I've not sidetracked from my reasoning for this post. There are almost 7 different 'localisation' events. One of them is an event I'm marketing myself as well.

These events have been around for almost 5 years at the minimum. Yet, every year there seems to be a problem with Nationalisation and the reasons given by different sources all contradict each other.

However, ONE reason seems to be recurring amongst them all, and has proof to back it up in the form of surveys by reputed firms as well as simple market knowledge and grapevine:

Emirates don't want to work in low paying jobs of long hours and minimal benefits.

In other words: no hard work which makes you sweat.

In more other words: completely the opposite of what the government wants them to do.

So here we are again: with the complete lack of accepting as fact what the consumer really wants i.e. easy, high paying jobs; true, deserving awards to others in the community than Shaikhas; real, visible embracing of human rights, there is a culture of 'if I advertise X enough, no one will notice the 'y'.


Everyone doesn't just see it, they're smelling it. Around the world. And they're not hesitating speaking it.

I would safely say this is one of the biggest mistakes Dubai has made, wherein it has assumed that if they have enough money, they can allow for a culture of sedentary lifestyles to become rampant and they'll simply advertise the highlights enough to allow the brightlights to drown out the darker underbelly.

Lesson: Don't lie to your staff. They have to be convinced that what you're selling is the truth. And it HAS to be the truth. If your property won't be launched for at least a YEAR after the date your salesmen are quoting, put the actual date. Buyers prefer waiting the extra year than finding out later of the delay, and then pulling out, leaving you with nothing instead of something.

Solution for Dubai: set up accountability and transparent employment laws which are implemented. The sooner your National workforce realises that sweating a bit for a lower pay grade has more rewards than money, the sooner they will start building this country even stronger than the Expats have.

And this time, a recession won't crush you.

1 comment:

  1. It won't happen. They'd rather stick their heads in the [abundant] sand.... which is also where the shoddily-built buildings will crumble in 10 years. (Those that actually get built, anyway.)

    Why should a UAE national work for less than 30,000 dirhams a month to sit in a government office where can they ignore a huge line-up of "clients" while they sit and talk with their cousins over coffee and take a bunch of extra cigarette breaks and talk on their [multiple] cell phone[s]? And get full pension for life?

    I wish my dad had oil in his backyard when I was a kid... Tell you what, though, he still would have taught me to work! And when the oil ran out I'd actually have some skills to compete in the world economy.