Aabar unit sheds expat staff: sources
Dubai, March 15, 2012
A unit of Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments, which has stakes in Daimler and Unicredit, has begun shedding expatriate staff as its steps up a policy of hiring UAE nationals, or emiratisation, three sources said on Thursday.
Across the Gulf, Arab governments are seeking to create more private sector jobs for their citizens while reducing their economies' reliance on hundreds of thousands of foreign workers, who fill posts in sectors ranging from construction and public transport to tourism, retail and financial services.
The chief executive and chief operations officer of Aabar Properties, a subsidiary of Aabar Investments, both expatriates, left last week. Other employees who left include the head of public relations and a senior employee at the human resources department.
"It is not downsizing but the policy is changing ... to emiratisation," said one former executive who declined to be named. Aabar's CEO did not return calls.
Aabar had a staff of around 55 to 60 in Abu Dhabi and around a third have left the company, said another source. "Since the last few months there have been job cuts," the source said.
Aabar Properties is involved in some master developments across Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE. "The real estate side is facing challenges like some other companies here," the former executive said.
The shedding of expatriate staff comes as the emirate's real estate sector has not recovered yet from a downturn after the 2008 global financial crisis. Property firms have been forced to cancel projects and restructure their huge pile of debt. Earlier this week, Abu Dhabi's leading property developers Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate announced plans of a merger.
Abu Dhabi is in the midst of a strategic review across all government departments, to centralise fundraising and improve accountability in the public sector. Abu Dhabi government-owned International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) is the majority shareholder of Aabar Investments. - Reuters