True commitments are not to be taken lightly or made easily
Author: Alain Bejjani — CEO, Majid Al Futtaim — Holding
This is true for life, business and statehood. It is one of the lessons of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee — the country could not have come this far this fast without a vision backed by unrelenting commitment to do better, reach higher and achieve more for its people.
It’s also true for our commitment to all the communities we operate in, beginning right here in our home nation. We have partnered with the UAE at federal and local levels in a variety of endeavours through the years, in sectors from food security to formulating drone policies, from cinema to catalysing future technologies. The most rewarding of our initiatives thus far, in my opinion, is our work with the UAE’s NAFIS Programme.
I recently shared my thoughts about why we approach job creation and recruitment with a sustainable mindset: It’s because it’s not about giving someone a job today, but making sure that individual has a career ahead of them so they can plan their life. We take very seriously this ability, this responsibility, to put men and women on the right trajectory. Whether they stay with us or learn from us and leave to better and bigger things is immaterial — giving people the best possible start is critical.
True commitment counts the cost and makes the choice. In September, as part of its Projects of the 50 intended to guide the nation forward, the UAE unveiled some of its most ambitious plans yet. Among these was the priority to recruit more Emirati men and women into the private sector — a vital need as the country continues to grow and evolve, and one that requires the true commitment of the private sector to realise.
We were selected, as we have been before, to be a pioneer partner to the government in this monumental undertaking. Driven by our own value of community commitment, bolstered by the articulated need and after careful consideration, we committed ourselves to hiring 3,000 Emiratis at every level and across all our operating companies within the next five years.
Let me put this in context: We have committed to increasing our current number of MAFers by over 600 per cent. Our existing numbers meant we had already achieved the UAE’s first-year target of 2 per cent Emiratization; we could have rested comfortably and focused on next year’s target. But we chose instead to do better, reach higher and achieve more — because that, as the UAE has shown, is also what true commitment does.
In 10 weeks — between September 15 and November end — we hired more than 300 Emiratis. By the end of the five years, we aim to exceed the UAE’s target of 10 per cent Emiratisation. Because true commitment goes beyond.
True commitment is comprehensive. Of course, it is not enough to simply hire people. Our Human Capital team, who have created, shaped and delivered our NAFIS Programme efforts, will continue to grow these new MAFers to the best of our ability. I am also deeply proud of how all our MAFers — from our founder to our leadership across operating companies and functions to our frontline staffers — have embraced our goal. It is truly thrilling to see how they have opened their teams, hired, made new MAFers welcome, and done their utmost to accelerate this initiative. A commitment of this scale and magnitude has to be all-encompassing.
True commitment endures. As we officially welcomed our new Emirati MAFers in a special ceremony at Dubai Expo last week, it was both rewarding and daunting to meet and greet our new MAFers. Daunting because this is not an easy road, but rewarding because we know how far we have come and because there is no limit to how where we can go. With every hand I shook and every picture I took, I was reminded that we have promised, we have delivered, and will continue to do so.
My thanks once again to all our MAFers, without whom this would not be possible; to our partners including the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council and the team at NAFIS; to the leadership of Dubai and the UAE, including HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum for making our celebration so special; and to our new MAFers, who represent our future and accelerate our present.