Job Satisfaction among Women in the United Arab Emirates

By Shallal, Musa | Journal of International Women's Studies, March 15, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Job Satisfaction among Women in the United Arab Emirates

Shallal, Musa, Journal of International Women's Studies


The purpose of this study is to investigate the factors that contribute to job satisfaction for employed Emirati females in the United Arab Emirates. Survey data were collected from 1272 workers in both private and public sectors in all seven emirates of the UAE. Almost 50% of these women were married, 45% single, 4% divorced and 1% widows. Regression results indicated three prominent factors that enhance job satisfaction--age, education, and income. There is a positive significant relationship between job satisfaction and age. Second, employed females with education beyond the secondary level are more satisfied with their jobs than those with less than the secondary level (p-values less than 0.05). Third, the employed females with high incomes are more satisfied with their jobs than those who earn less (p-value = 0.034).

Keywords: women's job satisfaction, United Arab Emirates, women in United Arab Emirates


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the fastest growing economies in the Middle East. It is often described as an open society compared to other countries in the Gulf region, one where women have more freedom. The recent 2010 World Economic Forum annual gender gap index ranked UAE at 103 of 134 countries, making it the region's best-placed nation. Kuwait was next at 105th, followed by Bahrain at 110th, Qatar 117th, Oman 122nd, Saudi Arabia 129th and Yemen last at 134th. (

A leading global management consulting firm Booz & Company (2010) reported women's participation rate in the UAE (59%) is the highest among the other neighboring countries: far ahead of Qatar's 36.4%, Bahrain's 34.3%, and Saudi Arabia's 14.4%. Earlier, the UAE 2005 census reported women account for 49.3 percent of the national population; and that their participation in the country's business community has grown steadily from 5.2% in 2002 to 7.3% in 2003, 9.1% in 2004, 13.5% in 2005, and 14.7% as of 2006 (Al Gurg, 2006).

This progressive change is explained in part by the increase in educational achievements and the society's relative evolving attitude towards women working outside the home. More than 90% of the respondents strongly belief or to some extend strongly agree that the society's attitude is positive towards working women, Although working women contribute about US$3.4 billion to the UAE's economy (Glass, 2007), their average number is nonetheless small compared to the overall labor force. This is due to a number of factors, such as companies' restrictions on the numbers of females employed; many women lead by conservative cultural attitudes; restriction on women's geographic mobility; limitations in career and occupational choices leading to take the option to marry and stay home to raise children. In addition, within the culture of the UAE certain kinds of jobs are considered inappropriate or undesirable for females, such as work in the hotel industry and nursing. In striking contrast to worldwide demographics of the health care industry; only 3% of the total numbers of nurses working in Ministry of Health (MOH) facilities (Nelson, 2004; EL-Haddad, 2006) are female.

For El-Haddad (2006) the low status of nursing in the UAE is due to the "variations in basic nursing programmes in the country; the lack of Arabic educational resources; the affluent life style of UAE nationals as well as the strict cultural norms; and religious values by which they live". It is reasonable to infer cultural factors are largely responsible for slowing down the speed of employment of Emirati females in the UAE; usually social values take longer to change to catch up with the speed of the economic development (Gallant et al, 2008).

There is growing research interest about almost all issues conceding working women in the Arab region, and in particular in the UAE about the phenomenon of women working outside their homes.

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