The Emirates’ Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has demanded that private sector companies hire a certain number of Emiratis before the 1st of January, 2023, or face annual fines of $20,000 (AED72,000). Companies with more than 50 workers must have at least 2% of their workforce being Emirati. This action conforms with the government’s Nafis initiative. The penalty for companies that don’t hit their target is AED6,000 per month or AED72,000 per year. Nonetheless, free zone enterprises are urged to hire Emiratis but are exempt from the new rule.
What Is Emiratisation?
The Emiratisation program was introduced by the government of the United Arab Emirates to increase the number of Emiratis working in the commercial sector. Its purpose is to raise the participation rate of Emiratis in the labor force of the United Arab Emirates and hence their contribution to the economy. Employers in the private sector in the United Arab Emirates are subject to a quota system mandated by the Council of Ministers. This system mandates that a minimum amount of UAE nationals be hired and maintained at each company. The current Emiratisation thresholds are 2% for businesses (with more than 50 workers), 4% for financial institutions, and 5% for insurance providers (where the entity has over 50 employees).
UAE’s Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Dr. Abdulrahman Al Awar, reported that the number of Emiratis employed in the private sector rose by 27% in 2022 compared to 2020. The minister expressed that the government commends the many private enterprises that had already achieved three times the target a few months after the law was enforced. They also anticipate seeing even more of an effect in 2023, when the Emiratisation targets will climb by 2% annually through 2026, leading to a 10% increase in the number of competent Emirati workers. According to the administration, locals’ involvement in the private sector is still crucial to the country’s economic growth. Failure to meet Emiratisation workforce targets will result in an increase to a Dh12,000 fine each year. If a company fails to hire at least 4 percent of Emirati citizens by 2023, they will be fined Dh84,000; in 2026, the fine will increase to Dh120,000. According to the Ministry, the Emiratization Law would help diversify the labor market and cement the United Arab Emirates’ status as a hub for national and international talent and a desirable place to live, work, and invest.
The UAE has seen an increase in the percentage of foreign workers relocating to the United Arab Emirates in search of employment in the private sector. They obtain the necessary work authorization via the UAE employment visa offered by the government and arrive in the nation to fill the vacancies. Many qualified workers and employees are now traveling to the UAE; thus, the government has felt compelled to set employment quotas in the private sector to accommodate UAE nationals looking for work. The Emiratisation law will help the government ensure that its nationals are not left behind.