UAE Graduates Choose Government over Private Sector Jobs, New Study Shows

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Higher salaries, more favourable conditions, greater job security and the opportunity to work with other UAE nationals cited as main attractions in new research released by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala tops list of preferred employers.

Recruiting Top Emirati Graduates -

"Recruiting Top Emirati Graduates" is available for download at

UAE graduates prefer to work for government organisations rather than UAE private sector firms and multinational companies, according to a research study conducted by online recruiting firm,, in association with ten leading universities in the UAE.

The study, entitled “Recruiting Top Emirati Graduates”, found that 86% of Emirati male graduates and 66% of females prefer to work in the government sector after graduation. Multinationals were second in popularity, with UAE private sector firms being the last choice, preferred by just 4% of males and 10% of females.

Respondents cited higher salary and benefits, better working conditions and greater job security as the main reasons for the appeal of the government sector.

The study shows that Abu Dhabi investment firm Mubadala is the employer of choice for the majority of graduates, followed by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Masdar (also a subsidiary of Mubadala), Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

A significant number of graduates interviewed by said that they were attracted by the prospect of working with other Emiratis. While they were open to working with other cultures and nationalities, many felt more comfortable in a predominantly Emirati workplace where they shared common habits and where they could be sure that their culture and values were fully understood and hence respected, according to the study.

Among Emirati females, some were keen to work in organisations with separate sections for women, either due to their own preference or out of respect for the concerns of their families.

When choosing specific organisations to join within the government sector, respondents cited a number of criteria as the basis of their selection. Some 72% of graduates said a challenging and interesting work environment is the most important factor when selecting their employer, according to the study. Good training and development (53%) and a good public image and reputation (43%) are also of high priority, they said.

As for salary expectations, male graduates said they expect to receive a minimum of Dhs 27,000 per month (including allowances) and Dhs 19,000 for females.

The study also reveals the importance of family in graduates’ career decisions. 94% of females said the family had a role in their decision, which can range from giving advice only, to the family actually making the career decision. A family’s decision is largely determined by the public image of the company as well as people they know within the company, the findings show.

Other questions addressed by the study include the importance of job location on career decisions (most graduates prefer to work close to their home town) and graduates’ perceptions of employment criteria (relevant work experience and relevant major being seen as key). Around one-quarter of graduates believe personal connections (Wasta) to be a key factor in the employers’ recruitment process and feel it helps to know someone already working for the company to which they are applying, the findings show.

Based on statistics from the UAE Labour Ministry, over 90% of the Emirati working population of 225,000 are employed in the public sector, with the rest working in the government or affiliated entities. The UAE private sector, despite employing over 4 million expatriates, is only home to 22,000 citizens.

According to recent media reports, the UAE government is studying a number of measures to make the private sector more attractive for Emiratis by bringing its benefits more into line with those in the public sector. These reportedly include subsidizing the salaries of citizens employed in the private sector, adjusting private sector working hours and days, as well as measures to boost job security for Emiratis in the private sector.’s study aims to help companies evaluate and improve their approach to recruiting Emirati graduates. It was based on a survey of 112 UAE youth who were about to graduate from university or had recently graduated. The full research report can be downloaded free of charge from

Top 20 Most Popular Employers for Emirati Graduates

1.    Mubadala
2.    Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)
3.    Masdar
4.    Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC)
5.    Abu Dhabi Executive Council
6.    Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA)
7.    Emirates Airline
8.    Abu Dhabi Media Zone Authority (twofour54)
9.    Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA)
10.    Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (ADWEA)
11.    Ministry of Presidential Affairs
12.    Leo Burnett
13.    Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD)
14.    Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC)
15.    Musanada
16.    Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD)
17.    Al Ain City Municipality (AACM)
18.    Yahsat
19.    Dolphin Energy
20.    Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC)

Source: Survey of Emirati Graduates

Universities Represented in the Survey (Share of respondents)

Zayed University (29%)
American University of Sharjah (28%)
Abu Dhabi University (14%)
Al Ain Univ. of Science & Tech. (7%)
American University in Dubai (5%)
British University in Dubai (5%)
Al Ain Men's College (4%)
Dubai School of Government (4%)
Canadian University of Dubai (3%)
Middlesex University Dubai (1%) is the leading online recruitment portal in the Middle East, covering all sectors and job categories. It is used by over 3 million candidates across the region, including 600,000 professionals and managers based in the UAE, for finding top career opportunities. It is also the primary online recruitment channel for over 5,000 companies, providing them access to both local and expatriate talent.

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Farah Ibrahim
TRACCS Public Relations
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