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Emiratisation policy needs new direction

Ministry of Labour focuses again on the issue of Emiratisation. They published a special report on current employment conditions in the local Labour market.
At the end of 2007, the number of Emiratis in the UAE Labour market stood at 11,233, or 0.34 per cent of the total employees registered at the ministry, as against some 3,250,000 foreign employees from 202 countries.

The number of national employees at the time included 6,180 women, which is 55 per cent of the total national work force. Only about 30 per cent of the total number of nationals had any educational qualifications other than their high school certificates. In the meantime, however, the number of foreign employees in the private sector has increased at approximately 18 per cent annually (as per MoL estimates).

Main hurdles

According to the MoL, there are two main reasons keeping national employees from making an impact in the private sector:

First, the ever-increasing number of expatriates entering the local Labour market. Second, is a traced to a small basket of sectors that go with the culture and needs of nationals.

However, UAE have adopted policies aimed at increasing the number of local employees in both public and private sectors.

In addition, the UAE have implemented various programmes to replace expatriates with nationals. Also, the UAE have been attempting to provide employment opportunities for the increasing number of nationals graduating from higher education institutions.
In the UAE, the emphasis of the Emiratisation policy was to bring about a marked shift in the representation of national employees, particularly in the private sector. Official statistics point to three important facts.

  1. The national and expatriate workforces accounted for about 9.3 per cent and 90.7 per cent respectively in 2004 (Tanmia, 2005). I believe these numbers have changed drastically over the last three years in favor of foreign workers.
  2. By the end of the 2003/04 academic year, UAE nationals comprised the majority of higher education graduates, making up 8,661 or 66 per cent of 13,143 graduates from higher education institutions (Tanmia, 2005).
  3. Between 2000 and April 2005, approximately 29,682 UAE nationals have registered at the National Human Resources Development and Employment Authority, known as Tanmia, seeking to find appropriate jobs.
    This number included 24,020 nationals who had never taken up a job. In addition, there were approximately 11,700 who had graduated from higher education institutions and acquired additional degrees.


Since the 1980s, the UAE government has been seriously trying to address the demographic imbalances in the Labour market and to bring about a positive change through higher education.

The policy of Emiratisation was gradually introduced at the federal level and some emirates followed it up with local initiatives.


Government influence

within this perspective, there have been many initiatives that have sought to encourage the private sector to train and recruit local talent.
Between the1980s and 1997, several steps were taken by the Ministry of Labour in order to regulate employment relationships, to emphasise that nationals were to be accorded priority for openings in the private sector, and to bring private industries to absorb nationals who successfully completed training courses they had offered.

In 1997 and 1999, the UAE took two major steps within the larger policy of Emiratisation. The first was establishing the Committee for Human Resources Development in the Banks Sector (CHRDB), which aimed to have 50 per cent of banking jobs performed by UAE citizens by the year 2007. The second impetus came in 1999, with a Presidential Decree establishing Tanmia, which focuses on developing capabilities and skills of local work force in order to bring about the desired balance in the Labour market.

Meanwhile, some emirates have established local authorities to encourage Emiratisation. The Abu Dhabi Emiratisation Council and the Emirates National Development Programme in Dubai are prime examples.
It is obvious that the UAE government has been attempting to enforce the policy of Emiratisation in order to avoid strategic challenges that could hold out implications for national and economic stability further down the line.
However, from my point of view, the situation continues to be alarming even as both cause and cure continue to be vested in the hands of the Ministry of Labour.

The MoL is the only federal authority that provides work permits and, therefore, it can play a strategic role in implementing the policy of Emiratisation. The MoL can exercise control on the number of new work permits being issued and release statistics on a regular basis to help decision-makers and researchers evaluate developments in the Labour market that affect the policy of Emiratisation.
It is a fact that Emiratisation needs a national strategy that unifies all federal and local efforts but we cannot ignore the fact that the increasing number of work permits issued remains the one factor that flies in the face of the policy.
I believe the situation calls for a national strategy. The MoL needs to establish a strategic relationship with the Ministry of Interior, Tanmia and other local Emiratisation organizations besides higher education institutions to ensure that the policy is realized in its full scope.

Al Shaiba, A. (2008). Emiratisation policy needs new direction. Retrieved January 3, 2010, from


Slowdown isn’t slowing Emiratisation

Many thinks that because the recruitment has slowed significantly within the UAE banking sector, the Emiratisation would be taking a back seat. Surprisingly, many firms are still increasing their proportion of locals, but the job-hopping of previous years has come to a halt.

Dubai Bank is aiming for 30% Emiratisation.  For example, Abu Dhabi Investment Company has started hiring spree of Emirati graduates for a scheme designed to fast track them to management positions and Abu-Dhabi Islamic Bank has taken on 150 locals this year.

Moreover, it is not just the local banks that are aiming to increase Emiratis, HSBC’s Middle East CEO Youssef Nasr said: “Our goal is to achieve above and beyond the government’s Emiratisation targets.”

It would still be slightly naïve to suggest that the push towards Emiratisation is entirely unaffected by the economic downturn.

The Emirates Nationals Development Programme (ENDP) stated many financial firms in the UAE are simply not expanding this year and those that are often recruit expats. The chairman of ENDP Ahmad Humaid Al Tayer said: “It is not logical that the private sector can accommodate thousands of the expatriate workforce and is not able to provide jobs for UAE Emiratis,” said,.

Moreover, Paula McManus, head of learning and development at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi declared that the firm is going to “substantially increase” the number of UAE nationals in 2009, including 100 management trainees.

Due the limited amount of Emirati banking talent, those that worked in the sector were often able to move between jobs for vastly inflated salaries. McManus said “the real competition is at the mid- to senior management level,”. He added, “That market is still quite healthy in terms of people moving. The more inexperienced level is much more stable than it was 12 months ago.”

Richard Lett, head of banking at recruiters RP International, stated, “Firms are being offered an embarrassment of riches in terms of international banking talent. While, they obviously need to fulfill government quotas of UAE nationals, it is no longer top of the agenda”.

Clarke, P. (2009). Slowdown isn’t slowing Emiratisation. Retrieved December 29, 2010, from,

Viability of ‘Emiratization’ stirs debate

The UAE to try to effort a system impose more Emiratis in the labor market and create a more equitable balance in the labor force to foreign companies and government offices to hire more people that are causing tension among many employers.

The cause which dispute is the manner in which the government going to impose a quota system and the difference between what the labor market needs and the type of skills, demands and expectations, and sources of local business and foreign.
According to official figures, there are currently about 32 000 unemployed persons in the country, with an estimated 6000 other university graduates who enter the market each year.
In the business community is that local officials frown on entry-level positions such as a receptionist at the reception desk, or help desk that could require what is seen as menial chores.

The stereotype of the citizens and just be managers and work for high salaries is no longer true. The government is investing a lot of time and money to the candidates trained in the necessary skills and that are placed in the right place. Even if companies take a candidate for a few weeks or few months, employee does not succeed and has to be ready to take the person again and give them someone else and pay for the first person to be trained for something else. Also, there is another point of contention between the government and the public sector is the imposition of the quota system.
The government issued – and implemented – stakes are much higher for the sectors controlled by the government, although not all of the target area because the government does not recognize enough local workers available.
In the private sector, and so far ordered only sectors of insurance and banking services to local nationals increase by 5 percent and 4 percent respectively in each year.

Although the government has not officially slapped the sector with quotas, employers in the field say that there is pressure.

The quota system has been formally in place for a number of years, the government is only now getting serious about imposed on them necessary because it has not seen enough of the good faith of the private sector.
Until now, the National Manpower little affect on any of the expatriates already here or increase the attractiveness of the UAE, but there are fears that if the government entities and the private sector to hire more from the failure of citizens, they may be forced to abandon its current strength to meet the quotas.

Emiratis in private sector make 0.3 percent of workforce

Emiratis working in the private sector constitute 0.3 per cent of the total number of workforce registered with the Ministry of Labour (MoL).

According to the studies done by Dr. Ahmad Zain Al Mannawi, the senior official with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, he said that 88 per cent of the total workforce in the private sector are Asians, 10 per cent are nationals including Emiratis and 2 per cent of other nationalities.

According to him, there are two main reasons for the decreasing number of Emiratis in the private sector, which are low salaries and the lack of seriousness in implementing Emiratisation in the private sector. In addition, he said in the last five years there has been a 10 per cent fall in the salaries earned by Emiratis in the private sector.

This article shows why UAE needs Emiratisation because as you can see the number of Emiratis in private sector is very low, less than 2 percent. In addition, the article shows the two main factors Emiratisation problems in the private sectors.

Emiratis in private sector make 0.3 percent of workforce. (2009). Retrieved January 2, 2010, from

For Emiratisation to succeed, education must suit the market

UAE’s quest for offsetting as many imbalances as possible in the composition of its population and workforce has always inspired the country’s socio-economic development strategies. In order to empower Emiratis higher education.

The UAE’s huge investments to prepare new generations to serve as the backbone for a robust private-sector economy. But  media debates have revealed, Emirati job-seekers are told that they need further training to cope with market challenges. This can be addressed by having colleges demonstrate more conformity to accreditation standards and make their program offerings more aligned with evolving market priorities.

Emiratisation has been a central feature of successive development strategies launched at UAE federal and local levels. In 2002, the UAE Cabinet approved a master plan for job Emiratisation .

In the past two years  local players have proven to be quite effective in enabling more Emiratis to gain access to an expatriate-dominated private sector. Some local organizations are taking an aggressive Emiratisation strategy .The SIB program aims to recruit and train Emiratis at the entry level to ultimately develop a team of professional bankers. The Abu Dhabi Emiratisation Council has helped to create hundreds of new vacancies for Emiratis. The Tawteen program is another initiative that aims to bring together four major: government, private sector, civil society and academia. Tanmia another organization has recently enabled large numbers of Emirati job seekers to find jobs in different UAE-based private businesses.

For its part, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has been a key player in realizing the country’s Emiratisation targets. A central goal for the next three years is to create closer alignment between higher education and market and community needs in the UAE. Since 2000 it has licensed 55 institutions and accredited 356 programs .It demands evidence that the programs that are seeking accreditation are relevant for UAE society and their launch would contribute to the country’s development. It also ensures by concrete assessment procedures.

Accreditation standards help agencies to assist in academic program developments. It also calls for the implementation of advanced teaching and learning practices conducive to quality outcomes.

The role of institutions is likely to generate further debates as it reveals  a growing divide between the classroom and the market. Only a convergence between university and market visions will give sustainability to the country’s Emiratisation endeavors.

A fresh approach to Emiratisation in the UAE

In late April, Prime Minister General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a lively internal debate with his whole-hearted rejection of forcing Emirati staff onto employers, and should set the region thinking.

His Highness instead advocated a more cautious approach, noting that ‘It is very easy to impose Emiratisation. We can do this anytime, but what would we gain if we did not provide our youth with the best knowledge, skill and expertise commensurate with these jobs?’

He was critical of the Minister of Labour who had previously issued decrees imposing Emiratisation on secretarial and public relation officer jobs, and the Emiratisation of human resources within 18 months.

his Highness added, ‘I appreciate the dedication and enthusiasm but his decisions were not successful because they ignored reality as well as the nation’s priorities’.

Forced nationalization

Many employers in the UAE will warm to this new approach from the top because it contrasts with the legislation imposing the employment of nationals in some Gulf States.

Such employment can be bad for efficiency in the workplace. In addition, it is probably true that if employees think they have a right to a job they are unlikely to be well motivated and will take a more relaxed attitude to work.

Far better is the approach of Sheikh Mohammed, which is to maximize the education, training and entrepreneurial support available to nationals. Therefore, they can compete on a level playing field with expatriate workers. This is not a quick fix solution, however, with political well and support from the top it will work.

The whole point is that putting jobs into the hands of those less qualified to do them is not a good idea for the health of the economy. It takes an economy backwards and not forwards.

Job requirements

That more jobs for nationals are needed in the UAE is beyond doubt as the population of young nationals is increasing and they are being far better educated from the past.

Nevertheless, imposing under qualified national staff on employers is not the solution. Indeed this is an insult to the young nationals who do excel and meet the highest world standards.

Emiratis need to demonstrate that they can work as effectively as any expatriate can and then their natural advantage in their own land, culture and language is unbeatable. However, this will be a long and slow process and the UAE is wise to steer a course between too much and too little of a good thing.

Other Gulf States will find themselves at a comparative economic disadvantage to the UAE due to their current policies. However, this is politically so sensitive that a change of direction might not be possible, and with its high percentage of expatriates to nationals, the UAE is best favored to make a gradual change.

Cooper, P. (2007). A fresh approach to Emiratisation in the UAE. Retrieved December 23, 2010, from

Background, definition and terms related to Emiratisation.

Here are some important terms and definitions, which are important for our users to know and understand the issue of HRM challenges and imperatives for Emiratisation in private sector.

HRM:  it is the short term of Human Resources Management, which is performed by the line managers. It is a function in any organization that focuses on of different activities such as recruitment, management and offering direction for people of the organization. HRM deals with issues related to people such as compensation, hiring, performance management, organization development, safety, wellness, benefits, employee motivation, communication, administration, and training.

Challenges: it is the difficulties of job for people who are engaged in it. Some of HRM challenges are the need for a competitive position and flexibility, the problems of downsizing and organizational restructuring, the use of self-managed work teams, the rise of small businesses, the need to create a strong organizational culture, the role of technology, and the rise of outsourcing.
An organization will outperform its competitors if it effectively utilizes its work force’s unique combination of skills and abilities to exploit environmental opportunities and neutralize threats.

Imperatives: something that demands attention, action, it is an unavoidable obligation or requirement and it is necessity.

Emiratisation: it is a program developed by UAE government to employee the UAE citizens and depend less on the foreign expatriates. The program provides incentives for businesses to hire Emirati nationals.

Private sector: In UAE, the work place is divided in to private sectors, semi-government sector and government (public) sector. Most Emiratis are attracted to the government sectors because the salary is higher than the private sectors, the working hours are less and the holiday package is better than the private sestor.


Strategy, policy and practice in the nationalisation of human capital: ‘project emiratisation’

Emiratisation is not only recruiting UAE nationals to replace expatriates, rather it is a major process that requires training these nationals to acquire the skills and competencies for the assigned work, to ensure a successful Emiratisation process. In UAE, according to the Ministry of Labor

As society expands and the private sector flourishes there is greater urgency to find alternative ways of addressing Emiratisation issues for instance, there is the gradual replacement of expatriates with nationals through greater private sector employment of nationals. This example, however, presents a dual problem. Firstly, private sector employers have negative perceptions of nationals as being less productive than expats and so there is an unwillingness to employ them, despite the fact, that outside the free zones any private establishment must be 51 per cent owned by an Emirati. Secondly, Emirati nationals are legislated to higher salaries than expats for the same work, which translate into higher costs for firms. Furthermore, nationals themselves are reluctant to take private sector employment. For example, there is the perception of lower private sector salaries, and smaller benefits compared to the government sector. Other work related issues include religious observance, which translates into the need for nationals to be afforded greater flexibility in working hours. Though legislation has been developed restricting immigration, entrance of a person into a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence. Motives for immigration, like those for migration generally, are often economic, although religious or political factors may be very important. It is likely that the demographic imbalance between Emirati and expatriate will continue to expand for the foreseeable future, so long as the UAE continues to develop and expand its infrastructure.
One of the greatest organizational development challenges facing the private sector is in attracting UAE nationals to work for them. Currently, nationals predominantly prefer to seek employment in the public sector due to better conditions, better salaries, more comprehensive packages, shorter working hours and job security. According to the UAE Government’s website (2007) which quotes statistics from a study entitled ‘Attitudes to the Private Sector’ it was found that only a little more than 10 per cent of students at Abu Dhabi Women’s Higher College of Technology would like to work in the private sector after graduation, even though 96.5 per cent of them expressed a desire to work. However, encouraging Emiratis to work in the private sector will require broad cooperation. As the Minister of Labor, Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi stated.

National employee must be prepared to enter the market and the private sector has to provide a suitable environment for a career path. The role of the government is to coordinate efforts in this regard.” (Emiratisation of Public 2006) Quotas set by the Ministry of Labor for Emiratisation in private firms have largely not been met in certain sectors.
Many private organizations are skeptical of Emiratisation policy and are of the view that UAE nationals have demands in terms of employment conditions and benefits packages that are too difficult to meet and the nature of some jobs are simply unattractive to Emiratis. However, the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority Tanmia has stated that such a view is not representative of the reality and places the onus in the hands of the private company to create an atmosphere that is attractive and favorable to nationals.


Strategy, policy and practice in the nationalisation of human capital: ‘project emiratisation’. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2010, from,+policy+and+practice+in+the+nationalisation+of+human…-a0206535859

UAE private sector urged to stress on female Emiratisation

UAE private sector urged to stress on female Emiratisation
Dubai: The UAE must adopt a pragmatic approach to female Emiratisation in the private sector, a top official said on Monday.

At the 12th Global Businesswomen and Leaders Summit in Dubai that was organized by knowledge and services provider Datamatix to mark the 100th International Women’s Day. Elballa Hagona who is the resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said, “Female Emiratisation must be motivated not merely by satisfying regulatory requirements such as quotas but rather by a genuine thrust towards integration of Emirati women and women empowerment in the private sector”. He also added that the private sector in UAE is depended more on expatriate workforce.
Moreover, he stated, “Emirati women have made steady progress towards visible and active involvement in positions that were traditionally the sole preserve of men” and he pointed how strongly the government support them and give them equal opportunities.
Oluwatoyin Saraki, the first lady of Kwara state in Nigeria, talked about the employment of women in Kwara by the efforts of non-profit foundation that she had established. Furthermore, she mentioned that over 55% of the population in the state comprises women and the main problem she faced in empowering women was lack of resources.
Others who talked in the conference gave insights on how can women start and support their own business and participate in economic growth.
The conference also honored seven women with the 2010 Middle East Businesswomen and Leaders’ Awards.


Dhal, S. ( 2010, March 8). UAE private sector urged to stress on female emiratisation. GulfNews. Retrieved from

The long-term challenges of Emiratisation

The rate of unemployed Emiratis is 14% in Abu Dhabi that is startling enough. In addition to the problems in education, skewed market dynamics and disincentives to join the workforce.

The meaning of unemployment differs in UAE from other countries because the problem of unemployment is not poverty but its more about the general health of the nation. All the citizens in UAE are wealthy and they have the support of the nation by relieving some of their financial pressures.

The foreigners have to continue to make the important contributions. However, Emiratis must be at the forefront of the economy and must fulfill the important duties to protect the national character and push future growth.

Abu Dhabi counseling program Tawteen is working to get more Emiratis into the workforce and considering a shift from policies based on mandatory quotas in favor of subsidizing companies that hire Emiratis. This will help to make the private sectors salary competing with the public sectors salary. Both solutions are imperfect because the quotes force companies to hire employees that are qualified and not qualified, and the subsidized salaries attract the people because it pays the employees more than the market rate. Still, the subsides are better than the two options mentioned because they are less coercive. Also, as education is improving and more students are attending universities, quotas should be able to be phased out.

The recent 70% increase in the public sectors is a discouragement to join the private sector. Nevertheless, the subsides that hire Emiratis may have planes to bring a balance to this problem.

Programs like Tawteen carry the responsibility to provide Emiratis with opportunities for improvement, but the Emiratisation’s success will be measured by the young people’s actions.

A recent report on entrepreneurship found that over the past years UAE stood out as a source of new enterprise. As young people followed their dreams not just to make money but to also have their own touch on the society, which is a step to Emiratization.



The long-term challenges of Emiratisation. (2010). Retrieved November 17, 2010, from