As I looked at my fellow desis buzzing around the office with purpose and efficiency, I suddenly wondered – “am I really in Dubai? am i really not in India?”. And then it struck me, Dubai is the perfect BPO Model!
An estimated 85% of the 5.4 million population of the UAE is expatriate! That’s a lot of foreigners running around the country, and running the country. Or at least believing they are…
Because quite simply, even though you may be doing real important jobs out here in Dubai, you are playing by the rules of Dubai.
Here’s what I’ve seen about the structure of businesses/organisations:
- The Boss/Owner is always a UAE national – who sets the tone and vision/mission for the company.
- Professional Managers from around the world – are the 1-downs who oversee the day to day business.
- Below them there are professionals of different nationalities – who do all the day to day ops and dirty work.
- 40% of the above two levels are UAE nationals.
Why I think this is great:
At the social/business level there is no loss of income, or insecurity usually felt by local companies when the MNCs set up shop. They are part of the set up. Which is quite different in other parts of the world, where there is a lot of angst against MNCs!
In the UAE, at the larger level:
- The companies are all local, belonging to local nationals – they get to keep the profits.
- Every foreign company that wants to set up/do business here, has to have a local partner – who again shares the profits.
- The system allows for silent partners – so many locals make money by just being partners on paper, and not doing any real work.
- At the common man/day to day level – 40% of all professional jobs are reserved by law for local nationals.
- And in small businesses and services – the expats end up doing the things locals wouldn’t want to do anyway!
At other levels, what’s happening is:
- The country with its infrastructure and way of life is a big attraction for talent and people with ideas – especially from the Indian subcontinent who want some sense of law and order around, besides great material benefits.
- Paperwork and Bureacracy is almost non-existent, when it comes to setting up shop or home here. If you qualify and have the right documents, you’re in, in no time with least effort. That’s a big entry barrier removed.
- Pricing in the country is cleverly designed – it’s cheap to buy, set up and run homes and offices here. So the next entry barrier is gone too!
The beauty of all this is:
- You pay a lot of money to outsiders to come do all the work your people cannot, and/or will not do.
- You provide the outsiders an attractive environment and remuneration model to live and work here.
- The outsiders earn and spend the money within the UAE itself (they buy and spend more in UAE than they repatriate home)
- More and more money is coming into the country, in order to feed the booming economy, which in itself is created by these people coming in. There is no real local population to exploit, as in India or China.
And all this is happening in a land, which is in reality a very hot and empty desert. Which until recently, had only one thing to offer the world – oil.
I think Dubai and the thinking of its Rulers is a case study all marketers and management consultants should watch and learn from closely. Just like I am.
*(names changed, nationality reflected)