UAE: From new work permit to second salary plan, top 10 headlines of 2023

Let's recap some of the significant milestones and new laws that defined this year


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Published: Sun 31 Dec 2023, 7:18 PM

Last updated: Mon 1 Jan 2024, 1:21 AM

In 2023, the UAE achieved remarkable milestones, marking a year of unprecedented progress and conquering several new frontiers. From taking giant steps into space to creating powerful moments to protect the environment, 2023 has set a new bar.

Here's a look at the news that made headlines in the UAE this year.

Unemployment insurance scheme

At the beginning of 2023, UAE rolled out the unemployment insurance scheme for public and private sector employees designed to provide a safety net for both public and private sector employees. This significant move serves as a form of social security, offering crucial financial support in the event of unexpected job loss and providing a cushion for up to three months.

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Ban on single-use plastics in UAQ and Ajman

Ajman and Umm Al Quwain banned single-use plastics from January 1, 2023, with retail outlets charging shoppers 25 fils per plastic bag.

UAE to space

UAE once again inked history when the SpaceX Crew-6 mission blasted off to space, carrying Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi on the first six-month mission to the International Space Station in March 2023. AlNeyadi returned in September after a successful 6-month stay at ISS.

Rashid Rover hard landing

The Arab world's first lunar rover, Rashid, was launched into space in December 2022. But in April 2023, Japanese lander Hakuto-R Mission carrying UAE's Rashid Rover lost contact with the ground control teams moments before touchdown on the moon. It was later found that the vessel made a hard landing on the lunar surface.

First Arab to walk in space

In April, Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi achieved a historic milestone for the Arab world's space exploration by completing the first spacewalk for an Arab astronaut outside the International Space Station (ISS). The spacewalk lasted over 6 hours, during which veteran Nasa astronaut Stephen accompanied AlNeyadi.

Second salary

National Bonds announced the launch of Second Salary in March 2023, a customised savings solution created for the UAE's national and expat population to generate supplementary income. The plan is the first part of a long-term programme to provide the best retirement plans in the UAE. The savings plan allows customers to save monthly for a duration and amount they choose and receive an additional income at the end.

Emiratisation targets

In July, the UAE announced the expansion of Emiratisation targets to include firms with 20 to 49 employees in specific economic activities as well. Previously, only private sector companies with 50 employees or more needed to meet this target.

COP28 in UAE

Dubbed as the most important event of the year, COP28 saw the world converge in the UAE to highlight the issues related to climate change and sustainability. Around 180 heads of state; 97,000 delegates, experts, observers and climate activists; and more than 400,000 UAE residents and environmental advocates took part in the 14-day UN climate summit that began on November 27.

Private tuition licence

In December, private tuition was legalised in the UAE, where registered teachers, those already holding jobs, unemployed individuals, school students aged 15 to 18, and university pupils could apply for the permit. Those found offering private lessons without a permit can face fines and other penalties.

Plastic ban in Dubai

On December 31, 2023, Dubai announced a ban on single-use plastic bags and products to be implemented starting January 1, 2024. The ban applies to single-use disposable and recycled products, including plastics and non-plastic items, regardless of their material composition.


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