While the Emiratisation program has been in effect in the UAE’s private sector for over a decade, the recent introduction of the Emiratisation Resolution marks a pivotal moment, signalling the government’s heightened commitment to enforce this initiative.
As of January 1, 2023, a new mandate requires private sector employers registered with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) and having a workforce of more than 50 employees to ensure that a minimum of two per cent of their skilled workforce in the UAE consists of UAE nationals. The classification of an employee as a ‘skilled worker’ hinges on their role and whether it necessitates holding a higher education certificate at the degree level or equivalent.
Notably, UAE nationals who were already employed by affected companies before the issuance of the Emiratisation Resolution on June 6, 2022, are not counted toward fulfilling the company’s quota.
Emiratisation has been more than just a government directive for Al Ain Farms, the first local dairy, having UAE nationals working across departments. The company has an Emiratisation programme called ‘Athar’, providing training to talented UAE national students on unique specialisations such as veterinary, quality, health and safety, research and development, and employs them too.
Meanwhile, Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) aims to attract and develop UAE Nationals at all levels to create a talent pipeline for the future, says its senior official. The bank introduced the UAE National Higher Education Sponsorship in 2017, offering financial support for higher education to UAE Nationals, displaying a commitment to enhancing the bank’s performance.
NMC, the largest integrated private healthcare platform in the UAE, is also committed to supporting the Emiratisation drive of the UAE government. Since its inception in 1974, the healthcare group has consciously promoted diversity in its workplace and encouraged UAE Nationals to develop careers in the healthcare industry.
Another strong player from banking industry, supporting Emiratisation and nurturing recent graduates in the finance sector, is Invest Bank. The bank collaborates with the Emirates Institutes of Finance (EIF) to offer a nine-month learning and training programme that prepares candidates for roles within. This strategic partnership enhances the UAE’s talent pool and contributes to the broader growth of the banking and financial sector.
New policies for 2023
In the first week of 2023, it has come to light that MoHRE intends to retroactively apply fines to non-compliant employers, covering the entirety of 2022. For some companies, this has translated into substantial fines with the added consequence of having their ability to obtain new work permits suspended until these fines are settled.
This development underscores the UAE government’s unwavering commitment to Emiratisation and emphasises the urgency for private sector entities to align with the new regulations. It also highlights the potential financial ramifications for non-compliance, making it imperative for businesses to swiftly adapt to the evolving landscape of Emiratisation policies.
In September 2022, authorities introduced hiring quotas for Emiratis, marking the first time such measures were implemented. Private companies were given specific deadlines to meet these quotas.
Initially, private sector firms with a workforce of at least 50 employees were required to ensure that three per cent of their staff consisted of Emiratis by July 7.
However, on July 11, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation introduced an update to these regulations. It extended the Emiratisation drive to include private companies with 20 to 49 employees. These revised rules now encompass companies operating in 14 economic sectors, including real estate, education, construction, and healthcare.
The Emirati employment rate is anticipated to rise to six per cent in 2024, eight per cent in 2025, and ultimately reach 10 per cent by 2026. The end-of-year goals remain intact, but private enterprises are now required to gradually reach these targets by increasing their Emirati workforce by one per cent every six months.
It’s important to note that these measures pertain specifically to skilled positions, and companies located within free zones are exempt. Nevertheless, they are encouraged to actively participate in the initiative.
Private businesses are urged to steadily increase the number of Emirati employees by two per cent each year, with the ultimate aim of achieving a 10 per cent Emirati workforce by the beginning of 2027.
The 14 sectors impacted by the updated Emiratisation rules:
1. Information and Communications
2. Financial and Insurance Activities
3. Real Estate
4. Professional and Technical Activities
5. Administrative and Support Services
6. Arts and Entertainment
7. Mining and Quarrying
8. Transformative Industries
10. Healthcare and Social Work
12. Wholesale and Retail
13. Transportation and Warehousing
14. Hospitality and Residency Services
15. Wholesale and Retail
16. Transportation and Warehousing
17. Hospitality and Residency Services