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Middle East Edition
14th September 2021
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UAE employees are among the most stressed in the world
A new survey suggests stress levels for workers in the UAE are among the highest in the world. Half of UAE employees have expressed interest in changing their job in the next 12 months, compared to a global average of 31%, according to the 2021 Cigna 360 Wellbeing Survey. “People have consistently suffered from overwork, which has led a half of the UAE's working population to consider leaving their jobs,” said Jerome Droesch, CEO at Cigna MEA and SEA, adding “There is a wide gap in the workplace wellness of the country's citizens and residents, who are among the most stressed in the world. It is time that employers step up and offer more care and support to their staff.” The report identified workers aged between 18  and 34 years as the demographic most willing to leave their current role. Survey respondents said the shift to working from home in the wake of the pandemic was one of the key factors contributing to a feeling of work overload. A third of survey respondents said they felt uncared-for or witnessed a lack of understanding among their employers.
Non-government employees can now take part in Dubai Gov Games
It has been announced that non-government employees in Dubai can participate in the 2021 edition of Dubai’s Gov Games. The Gov Games, which were launched in 2018 by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, test mental and physical aptitude, and recognize teamwork, determination, diversity, and tolerance. The challenge will return on December 9th-11th at Dubai Design District (D3). Marwan Bin Essa, director of Gov Games, said: “We are excited to host the third edition of the Gov Games competition. It now includes a new category for the community as part of our efforts to expand the impact of the event and raise levels of team bonding and performance among society members. The new category was introduced in response to an overwhelming demand from members of the community, who attended previous cycles of Gov Games, to participate in a similar tournament for non-government employees.”
We are creeping towards a continuous working week
The FT’s Sarah O’Connor says society’s shared rhythms of daytime work and weekend rest are disintegrating as a “continuous working week” takes hold amid a decline of the traditional 9 to 5.

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Gulf financial services firm gets ready for its biggest deal
UAE-headquartered financial services company Gulf Islamic Investments (GII) is preparing to buy a stake in a Saudi health care company for around $600m in what could be its biggest deal yet. GII co-founder Mohammed Alhassan said the firm’s goal is to invest around $1bn into Saudi Arabia over the next year to 18 months. Logistics and cloud kitchens are other targets, he said, adding “We go where the money is and where the deals are . . . We have a lot of faith in Saudi.” Bloomberg notes that rising life expectancy has boosted demand for health care in the Middle East, and the region’s governments are investing more on providing medical services to citizens as hospital operators contend with growing populations.
Investment banks accelerate efforts to automate junior ‘grunt work’
Wall Street banks are increasing efforts to automate “grunt work” foisted on junior staff, portraying the changes as an attempt to reduce workloads and stop young talent from leaving the industry.
Domestic workers in Saudi Arabia can choose a new employer through Absher Afrad
Domestic workers in Saudi Arabia can now opt for a new employer through a new feature on the Absher Afrad (Absher Individuals) platform that will allow them to respond to requests for transferring their sponsorship by accepting or rejecting them. The transfer of sponsorship of a domestic worker will occur only if the current employer is ready for the transfer. The new employer will then wait for the approval of the domestic worker through Absher Afrad, and upon completion of the approval, the worker will be transferred.
Uber loses court fight in Netherlands over drivers' rights
A court in the Netherlands has ruled that Uber drivers are employees and not contractors, and are thus entitled to greater workers' rights under local labour laws. The Amsterdam District Court sided with the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (FNV), which had argued that the ride-hailing company's roughly 4,000 drivers in the Dutch capital should enjoy benefits in line with the taxi sector. The court’s decision comes months after a similar UK court ruling led to the San Francisco-headquartered firm agreeing a groundbreaking union deal in Britain. "The legal relationship between Uber and these drivers meets all the characteristics of an employment contract," and drivers are covered by a collective labour agreement for taxi drivers, the court said, adding "This means that Uber is obligated to institute a labour contract with drivers . . . and therefore means these drivers are entitled to backpay in certain circumstances."  The judges also ordered Uber to pay €50,000 ($59,000) in damages to the FNV for not adhering to a collective labour agreement. Uber said it would appeal the ruling. "We are disappointed with this decision because we know that the overwhelming majority of drivers wish to remain independent," Maurits Schoenfeld, Uber’s Northern Europe general manager, said, adding "Drivers don’t want to give up their freedom to choose if, when and where to work." The FNV welcomed the ruling. "Due to the judge's ruling, the Uber drivers are now automatically employed by Uber," said Zakaria Boufangacha, FNV's deputy chairman. "As a result, they will receive more wages and more rights in the event of dismissal or illness, for example."
Flexible working shift could see 100k more City staff
Research by KPMG suggests the shift to flexible working in the UK will trigger a jump in the number of firms with offices in urban hubs, adding 100,000 workers to the City of London’s workforce. The report suggests a trend towards bigger offices in taller buildings is likely to be replaced by a focus on smaller offices, freeing up space for more businesses to open sites in previously expensive and crowded sites. KPMG’s chief economist Yael Selfin said: “There is quite a lot of potential to get more people in" with flexible working, saying there will be “more attractive office space freed up in larger cities, where companies have access to more staff, and easier access to supply chains and customers." KPMG predicts that the number of employees in the City will rise by more than 20% from its pre-Covid level. Office for National Statistics data for 2019 showed there were more than 540,000 employees working in the City.
Ford’s India exit has an impact on dealers
The decision by Ford Motor to close its Indian operations will affect 4,000 employees and hundreds of dealers. Vinkesh Gulati, president of the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations in India, said more than $272m has been invested in establishing dealerships that employ about 40,000 people. "The first priority is service, but when a company exits, whatever they may say for confidence-building, no comment will ring true because customers are scared," Gulati said.

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