x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Emiratisation seeks to cut unemployment rate and curb reliance on expatriates

The UAE's policy of Emiratisation brought a number of new rules for companies operating here.

The UAE's Emiratisation policies aim to increase participation among nationals and reduce the country's reliance on foreign labour and expertise.

Such policies also seek to address the low employment rate among UAE nationals, which stood at 38.7 per cent in 2009 compared with 76.8 per cent for non-nationals, according to the National Statistics Centre.

Specific quotas for the numbers of Emirati workers have existed for years in sectors such as banking, where employers must increase Emirati levels at a rate of 4 per cent annually, and insurance, where the rate is 5 per cent.

The Ministry of Labour issued amended legal requirements for hiring Emiratis last year, saying companies should reserve at least 15 per cent of their positions for nationals across all private industry. However, companies that try to fill these positions with what are effectively non-jobs to meet Government quotas - sometimes known as hiring "ghost workers" - can face fines and additional punitive rates on labour cards.

Emiratisation has created some difficulties for companies in need of specialised professionals, according to Abdulmuttalibal Hashimi, the managing director of Next Level Management Consultancy, which focuses on Emiratisation.

"There are lots of human resources professionals from back when HR was the in thing, and the economy needed those professionals," he said. Accountants, engineers and legal professionals had often proved harder to come by, Mr al Hashimi said.