UAE may see massive layoffs

DUBAI - UP to 45 per cent of the construction workforce in the United Arab Emirates could be laid off, with thousands already having lost their jobs due to the global financial crisis, a report said on Wednesday.

The Khaleej Times newspaper quoted Khalfan Al-Kaabi, a member of the board of directors at Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, as saying the job cuts would occur in the new year if private sector projects in the UAE are delayed or cancelled.

'It is only but natural for the industry to cut those jobs,' Mr Khalfan told the paper.

The report said that thousands of workers have applied to the ministry of labour to finalise the termination of their contracts. The ministry said it is quickly processing those applications to enable the workers to look for new jobs.

In the UAE taking a new job is only possible when the old contract is terminated.

The report said most of those laid off are South Asians employed by companies in the booming city-state Dubai where property development has been badly hit by the credit crunch.

Emaar, the property group behind Burj Dubai, the tallest building on earth at around 700 metres (2,296 feet), has seen its share price plunge 80 per cent this year to stand at its lowest level since its listing eight years ago.

Rival Dubai developer Nakheel, promoter of several iconic schemes like three palm-shaped artificial islands, said last month it had decided to scale back its work and cut 500 jobs, or 15 per cent of its workforce. -- AFP

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