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A call for Emirati sandwich makers sparks an investigation and outrage in UAE

Public Prosecution launches probe into the ‘contentious’ job ad as an effort to Emiratise the workforce goes awry
The Kamal Jamjoom Group said it put the ad out on behalf of Subway (Reuters)

When a business in the United Arab Emirates put out an ad inviting Emiratis to apply for a job as a "sandwich maker" it bit off more than it could chew.

Now the UAE has opened an investigation into the "contentious" advert, after Emiratis reacted to the suggestion that they could fill such a role with unbridled fury.

The UAE Public Prosecution announced on Saturday that it planned to interrogate the "CEO of the business" without specifying which company put out the advert. 

But a statement from the Kamal Jamjoom Group conglomerate said it advertised the role on behalf of the Subway fast food chain to support the UAE's drive to "localise jobs" by hiring Emiratis. 

The Public Prosecution, however, claimed the ad broke Emiratisation regulations and media content standards because it included "contentious" content. It did not clarify what exactly about the ad was "contentious".

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The Kamal Jamjoom Group ad came ahead of a deadline that required private UAE employers with more than 50 employees to ensure that two percent of their staff are Emirati nationals or face fines. 

Businesses that fail to comply could face a fine of up to 6,000 dirhams ($1,633) for each role they cannot fill with an Emirati national. 

'Mockery' and 'insult'

According to the International Labour Organisation, expatriates make up more than 90 percent of the UAE's private sector labour force, with most Emiratis employed in the country's public sector. 

By the reaction of many Emiratis on social media, a role as a "sandwich maker" was clearly deemed below them. Some described it as a "mockery" and an “insult” to Emiratis. 

Former Emirati government official Sultan Almoathen claimed the advert "was an attack on locals". 

"Offering such jobs (showing contempt and mocking citizens) is evidence of some expats' hatred and envy against us," Almoathen tweeted. 

"Our country has been good to them, but unfortunately, we always witness an attack on our nation and leaders… these jobs are considered an attack on locals."

Meanwhile, Emirati social commentator and photographer Al Suwaidi said Emiratis should be prioritised for senior roles before they are offered "insulting jobs" like a sandwich maker. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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