For a company that was established by the father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Emiratisation has been more than just a government directive. Al Ain Farms, the first local dairy, has UAE nationals working across departments. The company, in fact, 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.
“Since the inception of the firm, we have remained committed to employing and nurturing local talent. Emiratis have held key leadership and management positions at Al Ain Farms, overseeing various aspects of the organisation’s operations. Their deep understanding of local culture and business dynamics has been crucial in making strategic decisions and guiding the company forward,” said Aysha Hareb Al Dhaheri, Director, HR and Administration at Al Ain Farms.
Established in 1981, the company has consistently met the Emirati quota set by the government. “We place high importance on recruiting and developing Emirati nationals as integral members of our workforce. In 2021, we introduced a programme called ‘Athar’ that empowers UAE national students through practical experience and industry knowledge. It nurtures them as our future workforce and leaders in the FMCG industry,” noted Al Dhaheri.
Since the launch of the Athar programme, Al Ain Farms has trained two Emiratis vets, of which one is the UAE’s first female vet. It has also trained and employed the UAE’s first Emirati sensory scientist for product development and testing.
Athar trains select UAE Nationals for 18 months. On completion, the students are offered jobs at Al Ain Farms. The company plans to continue with this programme and introduce more initiatives in 2024 to develop more talent.
Talking about the importance of Emiratisation in the private sector, Al Dhaheri said: “Emiratisation is important because it empowers the UAE national workforce, supports sustainable economic development, and aligns with government objectives. Embracing Emiratisation in the private sector promotes cultural understanding, enhances brand image, and fosters a diverse and skilled talent pool, contributing to the nation’s long-term success.”
Al Ain Farms has grown by leaps and bounds over four decades and expanded into different verticals. It now has a presence in dairy, fresh juice, camel milk production, and poultry, producing fresh chicken and eggs, and is among the largest integrated companies locally.
“We offer innovative and sustainable products, and new concepts, which differentiate us in the market. Our key business objective is to become the number one player in the dairy and poultry industry in the UAE,” added Al Dhaheri.
The company employs over 2,000 people from more than 40 nationalities. “The Emiratis in our firm are at major contributing roles across different levels of management, and they are engaged across functions. This demonstrates our commitment to workplace diversity and fostering cross-cultural integration.”
Al Ain Farms has always taken an active role in public engagement. The firm supports multiple initiatives such as senior citizens programmes, food donation campaigns, and groups in need (children with special needs and centres for autism).
“It is in our DNA to give back and serve the community well. This reflects in our Athar program through which we train talented UAE nationals on specific roles that are important for the success of the industry and Al Ain Farms as a company,” concluded Al Dhaheri.