Sponsorship rules in the UAE should be more even in order to attract the best talent says top exec…

It’s harder for expat women in the UAE to sponsor their husbands than it is for their male counterparts to sponsor their wives. This is a barrier when it comes to getting the best talent in businesses says Hall & Partners’ CFO for Europe, Asia and the Middle East Deepa Shah.

“One of the big barriers I’ve noticed with regards to women here is, when you look at the number of expats, women cannot always get sponsorship for their spouses,” she told Gulf Business. “They can bring their family over and get a great job, but then it’s really difficult for their spouse to get a job here.”

“If you flip it the other way round, it’s easier for a man to get a visa for his wife. So that’s a potential barrier in the UAE. And if you go back to talent pools and getting the best group of people, then it’s something they need to look at. It’s not something you see in Europe or Asia, so it would be great if things could change here.”

This is a timely discussion considering the UAE government has set up a council to review policies in order to empower women in the workplace (and yes, they’re reviewing maternity leave length)

Shah added: “There’s still this tradition and stereotype that the man is the breadwinner and the women stays at home. That’s an east and west problem, but I think the mind-set is changing as the generation shifts. I think it will happen, but it takes time.”

Currently, a woman sponsored by her husband can work in the UAE. However, a man sponsored by his wife cannot work in the country. 

Here’s how it reads in the UAE labour law:

“A work permit is issued to those sponsored by their family residency under the following categories: 1) Females over the age of 18. 2) Husband of a female national. 3) Sons and daughters of female nationals.”

H&P was founded in 1991 in London. It specialises in brand and communication research – it has a Middle East hub in Dubai Media City.

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