Mohammed Alabbar Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: UAE residents on social media have debated the latest HR move in Emaar that stripped employees from their job titles.

While some netizens regarded it as a form of American work culture integrated into local firms, others suggested that the new move would inspire other companies to follow suit, which will ultimately place a stronger emphasis on skills instead of job titles.

"This means the position taken by the employee will be based on skills and productivity, and not on his hierarchy within a company,” said Khaled Al Shamri. Ahmed Al Madany also agreed with the move, and said: “Emaar was one of the first companies to cut employees’ salaries during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their decision was made very early compared to other institutions… now, they have changed labels to support morale and focus on employees.”

Others held a different view, such as Loay Al Kabbani, who tweeted: “This type of mind set is beautiful, but how can such a policy attract new employees.”

Saleh Ali said the restructuring was incomprehensible since employees will always be classified into categories and different ranks depending on their skills, and pointed out that, “external problems may arise when implementing pleasant terms without using a precise criteria to assess skills.”

Another social media user, who called himself Attar, said at the end of the day, employees will have to deliver the same results. “The job levels that staff are categorised and the salaries associated with them are the ones that will clarify the responsibilities and job description – and thus the job title – even if it is not written.”

The discussion stirred social networking sites in the UAE after Mohamed Alabbar revealed in an internal email that he will no longer be known as chairman of Emaar. At the bottom of the memo, which was also posted on social media on Tuesday, Alabbar signed off as Bu Rashid.

Abu means “father of,” and is often used as a nickname, and is followed by the name of a man’s first-born son. Colloquially, GCC citizens tend to drop the letter ‘A’ and say ‘Bu’ instead.

Emaar memo
Mohamed Alabbar's letter to staff members. Image Credit: Supplied

In the email, Alabbar said: “When you reach the end of this email, you will notice something different. I have no job title. And from this moment onwards, nor do you.”

“Yes, of course structures are needed, but I believe every single member of our organisation adds great value. Emaar is not a collection of talented individuals, but a team of great pooled talent. Today, I am announcing what is the smallest change that will have the biggest impact for generations to come."

The move was brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led management to take a step back and concentrate their efforts on the work culture and people’s talent, not job titles.

"I want to ensure that this propulsion to move outside our comfort zone is ingrained in our culture. Our values and DNA reflect our commitment to enrich the lives of people by winning together, by taking bold actions and complete ownership and by displaying speed in execution.

"From now on we will pledge to focus on continuous growth and development. We will invest in developing the skills and capabilities of those who have helped us to achieve the success we had had in the past and who will be part of our growth journey in the future," he added.