In-depth

Alt text for imageUNDP works with the Government in expanding job opportunities for both men and women (Photo: Shutterstock)

UNDP is keen to foster regional integration and development, and so will support the United Arab Emirates in promoting inclusive and equitable growth, placing special emphasis on the sustainable employment of Emirati nationals—especially women and young people in the workforce.

UNDP will also support economic development in the Northern Emirates, promoting their comparative advantages, and encouraging new investments in infrastructure, productive capacity and human capital. In response to requests from federal agencies and the governments of the seven emirates, UNDP will support institutional strengthening and capacity development for local economic development agencies; the formulation of integrated regional and local economic development strategies, and efforts that contribute to raising the profile of the Northern Emirates.

UNDP will work with the government to expand job opportunities for both men and women and ensure greater alignment of new skills with the demands of the economy, including the emerging ‘knowledge economy’. UNDP will support new employment through the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), value-chain development and entrepreneurship training. This will include measures to strengthen the connection between education and sustainable employment. Finally, UNDP will support the formulation of labour market assessments, disaggregated by gender, at national and emirate levels, and capacity-building for key labour market institutions to further support labour market restructuring in light of the country’s goals.

In each of the above areas, UNDP will support the government commitment to increasing female participation in the economy, including special measures to promote employment for women with family responsibilities. In view of women’s high educational attainment levels, women-specific leadership training will be initiated.

UNDP are to pay special attention to supporting public-private partnerships (PPPs) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) that address the ‘triple bottom line’ of economic, social and environmental sustainability. UNDP will provide support to strengthening social policies and social security programmes in line with the government goal of reinforcing social cohesion and empowering social security beneficiaries.

The First Human Development Report for Abu Dhabi

Education
The Education Index showed that the average years of schooling for groups of citizens and non-citizens and the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s total population fall within the average of the first 42 countries that have been classified, according to the Human Development Report of 2010, with very high human development. This reflects the relatively advanced position of the emirate. It remains, however, evidence that there is still learning regression, when compared to other countries’ human development, due to the presence of large numbers of citizens in the country with low levels of literacy. This is due to the preference ratio of citizens, especially males, who leave school early to enrol in the workforce.

The field of education saw significant developments in both quantity and quality over the last forty years; the UAE has increased the number of its schools, so that as of 2010, it had 489 public and private schools, up from 146 schools in 1980. Today, government schools form the largest percentage of the total, with 305, compared to 184 in the private sector.

Human Development
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is ranked 29th globally in human development, alongside the Republic of Slovenia, according to the Human Development Index. Abu Dhabi's capital reserves is similarly classed: it is 32nd in the world, although the population here is four times lower than that of Slovenia.

Employment
Changes in Abu Dhabi's economic and social conditions have been brought about through the growth of its population, and the internal migration of citizens from other emirates to work in Abu Dhabi. This has led to an increase the numbers of both employed and unemployed citizens. The number of working citizens in 1975 was twelve thousand; these constituted 96.0% of the national labour force. In 2010, the number of working citizens has risen to 93 thousand, which is 88.0% of the national labour force. Furthermore, the number of unemployed citizens has increased from about 450 in 1975, or 4.0% of the national labour force, to approximately 12,700 in 2010, or 12.0% of the national labour force.

As for non-citizens, it is anticipated that all foreigners are legally working under the kefala or sponsorship system that operates in the UAE. Overall, the rate of employed non-citizens forms about 98.0% of the labour force in any one year; this is shown as an increase from approximately 110 thousand in 1975, to more than one million in 2010. Thus, in 2010, the unemployment rates range by a ratio of around 2% of the labour force. The number of unemployment increased from around 2,400 in 1975 to more than 26 thousand in 2010. Thus it appears that the rate of 2.0 per cent reflects almost a normal ratio among non-citizens in the emirate.

The report estimates the unemployment rate among local citizens in the emirate in 2011 at approximately 11.6%, and is at its highest in Al Ain area of Abu Dhabi with 16%, followed by the Abu Dhabi city at 9%, and Western Abu Dhabi at 8%. It is worth noting that the unemployment rate is prominent among females, where it is 41.8%, compared with males, where it is only 3.8%.

Economic Development
The gross domestic product at current prices doubled for the capital of Abu Dhabi between 1975 and 2010 about 24 times;  increasing from 26 billion dirhams in 1975 to 620 billion dirhams in 2010, with an average annual growth rate of about 9.0 per cent. Excluding oil, non-oil GDP at current prices rose from around six billion dirhams in 1975 to more than 312 billion dirhams in 2010, where it doubled more than 55 times, or had an average annual growth rate of around 11.5% on average.

Nevertheless, the cost of living in the emirate in 2010 increased four-fold  when compared in today's prices to 1975. This means that the family which required around AED 1,000 to spend on goods and services per month in 1975, required more than AED 4,000 per month in 2010 to consume the same goods and services.

Growth in the emirate, when compared with the projected 2030 vision figures, shows that the annual average rate of growth in real GDP  between 2008 and 2010 was negative, at -1.6%. The reason for this is mainly due to declining oil revenues in 2009 at the time of the fiscal crunch. Although oil revenues rose again in 2010, they did not reach the level that existed in 2007. Therefore, in order to match the projected 2030 Vision growth, it will be  necessary to achieve a real average economic growth of 12.2% between 2011 and 2015, in order to compensate for this growth slowdown. The average growth target between 2010 and 2015 is currently 7%.  As for the growth in non-oil GDP, it stood at 3.2% a year between 2008 and 2010, which is about 6% less than expected. However lower oil revenues and the continued growth in non-oil sectors has raised contribution to GDP to 48% on average over the period, which is approaching the ratio target set for 2015.

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