Interview with Rabei Wazzeh

Rabei Wazzeh is the Executive Director for Talent Management at Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group (ADUKG).

 Rabei joined ADUKG in 2011, where he has championed the organisation’s culture and focus on quality delivery. Additionally, he serves as an executive coach for the presidents of other organisations. Rabei is a recognised expert in strategy execution, performance management, leadership development and talent management. He has previously worked extensively on the restructuring of the Abu Dhabi Government’s Civil Service.


1. Do you think that there is an issue with talent retention in the industry? How is ADUKG tackling the talent retention issue?

Something we have noticed in the GCC countries is that people tend to favour moving into a more office based position as opposed to the more technical jobs in the field. If it is someone’s ambition to move out of the field and move into an office there’s nothing wrong with that but sometimes people may lack the necessary skills to transfer into an office role in this industry. We face a similar situation to this when we work with the natural gas companies with people who work in transportation of gas. The retention rates are low in these roles because in these organizations because they require people to be away from home for long periods of time and are also heavily physical jobs.

Another issue is the social status of jobs; I have found that people want to have a good job title and a job which has a well-defined career path. In this industry some of the career paths are not always very clear, for example someone who is working in a technical job may only know that some point his career path they might become a supervisor. People want to go into a job knowing how they can progress in the years to come, which is more challenging in technical refining positions, whereas in management and people related jobs it is easier to find jobs across the organization rather than being in a role which has very technical skills.

2. Do you think that the Oman government has a role to play and can further play in ensuring graduates receive international education, training for this industry?

I think that it falls to the actual companies and organizations to provide the right amount of training for people. Companies don’t want to place people in technical positions without them being capable of doing the right thing in a challenging situation, costly mistakes can be made if the training for a role in inadequate.

 3. In comparison the upstream, downstream is much less advanced in the area of initiatives and programmes to introduce graduates to this industry – why do you think this is?

 I think it’s a combination of three things, the different career opportunities, the potential career path, and the social status of the job itself. We live in a society where people are judged by their job titles, and this is something that is a significant issue in the UAE. From my work with oil & gas in the UAE we have many people who have been in the same job for 20 or more years and they become experts in their role but the problem is that they are confined to the same role but because they are in a technical role they cannot move into senior management. The salaries are also not as good in technical jobs compared to the administration jobs; there needs to be a stronger incentive for people to work in these jobs.

4. What work is ADUKG currently involved with in Oman’s refining and petrochemicals industry?

We are based in the UAE and at the moment we are working extensively with Orpic to provide management training and development opportunities for line managers. Currently we aren’t working in Oman as much as we would like but we are hoping to expand into the Oman Downstream sector now we have the capabilities to do so. We are always looking for new opportunities to expand and are currently working in Saudi Arabia with Saudi Aramco on training and development schemes.

We work extensively in the oil and gas sector in UAE and Abu Dhabi and have the capabilities to expand into other GCC countries but we have not been aggressively taking these opportunities and hope to expand more into the Oman market in the future.

5. Why is it important for ADUKG to participate in events such as Oman Downstream Conference?

 I have been heavily engaged in localisation related projects in the Middle East throughout my career. I believe that the idea of localisation is something that is very important to the economy and this is a message that I would like to communicate in the downstream especially. I would go as far as to say that the downstream is the most critical infrastructure in the Oman economy and that is why it is important to have localisation at this level and events like this are a key opportunity for us to meet with relevant stakeholders in Oman.


Rabei will be speaking on the In-Country Value Panel: Maximising Capacity & In-Country Value in Oman’s Downstream Industry on Day 1 of the Oman Downstream Exhibition & Conference alongside:

  • Mohammed Mahmood Al Balushi, Managing Director, Shell Oman Marketing
  • Rashid Al-Mamari, Head of the Petroleum Engineering Department, Sultan Qaboos University
  • Abdullah Al Abri, ICV Technical Manager, PDO
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