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The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) to explore potential cooperation in organizing regional conferences, professional development and education programs.
The signing took place April 29, 2014, shortly after SHRM President and CEO Henry G. “Hank” Jackson delivered a keynote address to approximately 300 HR professionals from the governments of the UAE and bordering countries.
“SHRM’s business operations in the Middle East are growing rapidly,” said Jackson. “The purpose of this trip was to strengthen existing partnerships and increase awareness of SHRM in the region. My remarks focused on the rapidly changing global environment and HR’s leadership role, a topic particularly relevant in the growing UAE market,” he said.
HR in the Emirates
The UAE—a federation of seven emirates including Abu Dhabi and Dubai—is the only Arab nation on the United Nations Human Development Index, a statistical measure that gauges a country’s level of human development. The FAHR is the UAE’s federal, cabinet-level agency tasked with standardizing and optimizing the HR practices of the nation’s government sector, where the majority of UAE citizens work.
“The FAHR has an ambitious mandate,” noted Brad Boyson, SPHR, GPHR, HRMP, executive director at SHRM MEA. “It seeks to standardize core HR practices and processes across the government sector and introduce global best practices, all the while being sensitive to the history and customs of its citizens and residents.”
Major challenges facing the agency include transitioning graduating youth to gainful employment and decentralizing HR policies, which tend to be driven at the emirate level. Change is in the air, however, as the alignment of government practices at a federal level is currently being championed by the nation’s leadership. The FAHR is also working to create a nongovernmental national UAE HR association that could participate as a peer in the World Federation of People Management Associations. The UAE is poised to become a knowledge-based hub to complement its already established hub status in fields like logistics, finance, hospitality and tourism, said Boyson.
The memorandum of understanding “is significant for both SHRM and FAHR because it reinforces SHRM’s commitment to the UAE at the highest levels while reaffirming the Authority’s commitment to develop world-class HR practices,” said Boyson. “In particular, great opportunities exist for knowledge sharing, thought leadership and the introduction of HR professional development programs and certifications.”
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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