ABU DHABI, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the Middle East but joblessness among its own citizens far exceeds the average due to their preference of the public sector, a local news website reported Thursday.
The Gulf nation's overall unemployment rate stood at around 4.2 percent in 2009, almost unchanged from the 2008 average and one of the lowest in the Arab world, Emirates 24/7 said, citing figures released by the Economy Ministry.
However, the rate was as high as 14 percent among UAE nationals although they account for only about a fifth of the country's total population, the report said.
It added that unemployment among the dominant expatriate population stood at only around 2.8 percent last year, equivalent to the 2008 average.
The figures showed that national employees are still concentrated in the public sector despite long-standing government efforts to encourage them to take up private sector jobs and incentives for domestic companies to recruit more citizens to tackle the high national joblessness, according to the report.
Nearly 46 percent of the total national work force is employed in federal government departments, while 39.1 percent is in local public establishments. Only around 7.4 percent of them are in the private sector, Emirates 24/7 said.
In contrast, expatriate employees dominate the private sector, with around 64.6 percent of the total foreign labor concentrated in the sector.
Only 2.7 percent of expatriate workers are employed in federal government offices and 12.2 percent in local government departments, the figures showed.
In a recent analysis of UAE's job sector, an official estimated that more than 40,000 nationals at work age are jobless, boosting the unemployment rate to its highest level since the country was established nearly 39 years ago, according to Emirates 24/7.
The surge in the local unemployment rate was a result of a continuous influx of expatriate labor and obstacles in the implementation of job nationalization plans, Abdullah Al Awadi, a consultant at the National Human Resources Development and Recruitment Authority, was quoted as saying.
"The UAE society, like other Gulf societies, is suffering from an unemployment crisis that is moving in an upward line because of the continued surge in expatriate workers and difficulties in the implementation of the job nationalization programs," he said in an article published earlier this year.