Some of the residents feel they’ve been turned away due to their nationality.
A Dubai lawyer has warned employers against discriminating during the hiring process as they can be fined up to Dh2 million.
Shiraz Sethi, Senior Associate at Stephenson Harwood Middle East, highlights that the penalties for breaking the UAE’s Anti-Discriminatory Law passed in 2015 include jail terms of between six months and 10 years, and fines ranging between Dh50,000 and Dh2 million.
Sethi’s comments follow complaints of discrimination by some residents seeking temporary roles in the promotions industry. Some of the residents feel they’ve been turned away due to their nationality or, in one case, where a girl wore a headscarf (hijab).
They allege that certain marketing firms post adverts on Facebook with brutally honest requests, like only certain nationalities need apply, while others offer different emoluments for the same job to different nationalities.
“The law is drafted broadly and attempts to encompass all discriminatory conduct and practice irrespective of how it has been expressed – through speech, writing, drawing, photography, singing, acting or miming – and irrespective of the means by which it has been expressed – online, by phone or video, and whether written or oral,” said Sethi.
“Whilst it appears that the law is primarily aimed at preventing and criminalising hate crimes and the incitement of hatred, particularly in light of recent global events, the law also seeks to prevent discrimination more broadly and may have knock-on consequences in an employment context.
“In light of Article 17 of the law, my advice to clients is simple: if you are operating within the UAE, then it is imperative for companies to ensure that their internal policies and procedures are implemented correctly and regularly updated so as to forewarn employees of the potential pitfalls that they may be subject to under the law.”
Colour of your passport
Some women in Dubai looking for temporary promotions jobs said certain job advertisers hire based on nationality and “good looks”.
Promotional jobs in Dubai are popular among students already on a residence visa, and they can legally work on a temporary labour card.
Pakistani expat Heba Qadeer, 23, said, she got paid Dh4,900 for 40 days – the same job where other candidates (Europeans and Russians)received a much higher payment.
Qadeer said: “Despite being born and brought up in Dubai, my Pakistani passport affects certain job opportunities. Promotion jobs are more commonly taken up by students to make ‘quick money’ but the amount differs depending on the colour of your passport.”
However, it was a different story for Italian expat Yasmin Di Mario. “When I was studying, I would work during the weekend from 9am until midnight and I would make around Dh5,000 by just working twice a week.”
Mario, however, acknowledged that her counterparts from other nationalities were being paid less.
What the Law Says
The UAE Anti Discriminatory Law Federal Law No. 2 of 2015, Article 17, states: “The representative, director or agent of a legal entity, in case any of the crimes set forth in the present Decree Law is committed, with his knowledge, by any employee of said entity acting in its name or to its interest, shall be sentenced to the same penalties prescribed for the committed crime. The legal entity shall be held jointly liable to settle any pecuniary penalties or compensation as ruled thereof.”
Article 13 under the law states: “Any person, who establishes, sets up, organises or manages an association, centre, entity, organisation, league or group or any branch thereof or uses any other means aiming to offend religions, or provoke discrimination or hate speech or any act involving encouragement or promotion of the same shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period not less than ten years.”
It’s not about nationality, but ‘good looks,’ says promoter
A promoter who works for a marketing firm and hires people for promotional jobs insisted that they hire based on ‘good looks’ and not nationality.
He said: “All nationalities get paid the same. They get chosen depending on their good looks. They have to look good and be presentable.”
Another promoter, working for a different marketing company, however admitted that certain nationalities may be getting paid more than others.