By Julmunir I. Jannaral
There are around 650,000 Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the Arab nation loves them.
Charge d’Affaires Sheikh Saoud Al-Mualla of the UAE Embassy in the Philippines gave to the Philippine Muslim Today the latest figure of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Mualla emphasized the number “is reflected based on the last figures released by authorities.”
And the love is mutual.
In May 2020, OFWs community in the UAE showed their love, acceptance, and appreciation for the Emirates and its people as they launched a sticker campaign containing the words “Filipinos trust the UAE.”
The OFWs’ action was their way of reciprocating the UAE government’s sincere care, compassion, and tolerance. As the pandemic hit the world, the UAE government provided care for its citizens as well as foreigners living in the Emirates.
In an e-mail interview conducted with Sheikh Al-Mualla he opened up on why Filipinos are highly acceptable in his country.
He said the “common perspective in the UAE about Filipinos is that they are acceptable to UAE citizens as well as to other nationalities living in the Emirates.”
“Filipinos are well-educated, disciplined, with good character and behavior, highly organized, and loyal to their employers. I think whoever have this character would be most welcomed in our country,” emphasized Sheikh Al-Mualla.
He added the UAE is a country for all without any discrimination based on race, color, religion, etc., likewise this atmosphere of accepting each other is a result of the wise leadership initiative of tolerance.
The UAE is home to over 200 nationalities, including more than half a million Filipinos, working in every sector of the country.
Obviously, the UAE’s strong policy of tolerance and acceptance of people of other religious beliefs and culture, as well as its labor laws are serving as magnets that attract expatriate workers.
It’s a policy that has a long tradition started by its founder, the late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan.
“The UAE is a country that has been designed by its Wise Leader to accommodate all nationalities, including Filipinos and, of course, the principle of respecting the diversity in UAE creates a wonderful environment attracting all people to come together and share their potential and talents. In particular, Filipino workers have been participating in the development of UAE, not only in the recent years but since the 1970s,” said Sheikh Al-Mualla.
“The contribution of Filipino workers is great in terms of their different professional fields and expertise from the highly professional engineering field, medical field, hospitality service, and others,” he added.
For one, the UAE which hosts millions of workers from across the globe is deeply committed to safeguarding the rights of all workers. It signed international conventions on the rights of workers. It’s a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
To educate laborers on their rights, the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MoHRE) has launched several awareness drives; established offices in courts to provide legal support to workers in labor disputes, and units have been set up across the country providing protection for workers.
There’s also the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) created in 2008, a forum for dialogue and cooperation between Asian countries of labor origin and destination.
As the global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues, the UAE is making sure every worker is supported by facilitating their ability to secure temporary employment, access new job opportunities, and receive housing, food, and medical assistance.
With a vaccine now being given in UAE, the government is providing the injection to all those who live in the country, citizens and non-citizens, including expatriate workers.
Sheikh Zayed’s legacy has endured and is being adhered to and implemented by his son and successor, President Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, and the rest of the UAE officials. The President of UAE is the emir of Abu Dhabi, he explained.
Seven emirates comprise the UAE, such as Abu Dhabi, the biggest; Dubai (who does not know Dubai); Sharjah; Ajman; Umm Al Quwain; Ras Al Khaimah; and Fujairah. Sheikh Zayed and other Sheikhs of the founding members established the UAE on December 2, 1971.
Sheikh Al-Mualla’s message to Filipinos with relatives in the UAE: “To the families of Filipinos who have been working or residing for good in UAE, I would like to assure that under the wise leadership of the UAE, the authorized officials in their posts are exerting their efforts to reach the goals of peace of mind and heart for all its residents by providing (vital) measures in security and stability for their safety even during the unprecedented situation of Covid-19.” JIJ