Abu Dhabi: The low productivity of Arab workers is a myth stemming from imperialism, according to Dr Hessa Lootah, an Associate Professor at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the UAE University.

Speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of the Human Resources and Development in the Arabian Gulf conference organised by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) last week, Dr Lootah said: "If you read into the literature of colonialism, this has always been the way local people were talked about whether they are Arabs, Latin Americans, Indians or Pakistanis."

During several sessions at the conference, the low productivity of Arab workers was pointed as one of the roadblocks hindering human resources development in the region.

However, Dr Lootah disagreed. "The idea that Gulf nationals are unqualified is a misguided concept, existing only in the Gulf. The essence of this is that the Gulf countries are undeserving of their wealth, and it should therefore be taken from them," she said.

Dr Lootah, who has several studies and research papers to her credit, won the Shaikh Rashid Award for Scientific Excellence twice for her theses. She has contributed to the establishment of the first Women's general association in the UAE and is also a founding member of the Human Rights Society.

"This myth has been created and inflated to use it as a medium to control the lives of other people", she reasoned.

She is against classifying the entire population of any nation as productive or non-productive, Dr Lootah said.

"It is only normal that a nation comprises of people with varied degrees of productivity-from high to medium to low," she said.

She added that the concept of education in the Gulf must be reviewed, saying that it had led to a materialistic view of mankind as a mere "resource" in its current form it.

"Importing and adopting western models as it is cannot work for us instead it creates socio-cultural problems in our society."