Top Govt Officials Sacked After Dubai Ruler Finds Lots Of Empty Seats At 7:30am

Dubai's ruler has ordered a shake-up of the city state's management, including the retirement of nine senior officials, a day after he conducted a surprise spot check of government offices at 7.30am and found a significant number of employees absent.

On Sunday, his government posted a video on Instagram of him making an unannounced visit to the Land Department and Department of Economic Development office and finding it empty, an exercise which a Dubai media official said was intended to 'send a message'.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum casually wandered around the deserted office with empty seats, picking up an employee's book and flicking through it. He walked past a framed portrait of himself on the wall but couldn't find anyone to actually talk to. The visit should not have caught so many people out as Sheikh Mohammed is known for his early-morning inspections 'to ensure government services are up to Dubai's globally admired standards'.

In Dubai, public sector workers usually work from 7.30am to 2.30pm, while in the private sector usual business hours are from 8am to 1pm, resuming after the temperatures have begun to cool from 4pm. In the video posted online the leader then goes on to inspect Dubai's airport - thankfully finding immigration officers were in place. 

Governments around the Gulf are trying to make their bureaucracies more efficient as low oil prices pressure state finances, and the move by Sheikh Mohammed is one of the most dramatic efforts in that direction so far. 

He ordered the retirement on Monday of nine members of Dubai Municipality's executive management, including directors and assistant director-generals in departments such as legal affairs and planning, the United Arab Emirates' state news agency WAM reported. Some of those sacked include Abdul Qader Al Jasmi, director of legal affairs, deputy director general Eisa Al Maidoor and assistant Director General for corporate support Mohammad Abdul Karim Julfar.

On Monday, Sheikh Mohammed thanked the nine retired officials for their service but said he wanted to allow a new generation of young leaders to take control and provide top-quality services to the public, WAM reported.

Mona Al Marri, director general of the Dubai Media Office told The National newspaper: 'Timeliness starts at the top, and we won't go after the employees when their bosses aren't there.'