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Attracting Emiratis to the private sector

UAE says top priority is national employment

UAE to rebalance employment structures

February 17, 2013 10:47 by

The United Arab Emirates is considering changing its labour law to attract more citizens into the private sector, local media reports.

Many Emiratis prefer to work in the public sector, where working hours are shorter, holidays are longer and pay tends to be higher, while foreign workers, who account for the majority of the oil-rich Gulf state’s population, fill most private sector positions.

To prepare for any future downturn in oil prices and to avert political discontent, leaders in the UAE and other Gulf states are taking steps to rebalance their employment structures.

Labour Minister Saqr Ghobash will present the government with a review of the current labour law “shortly”, reports al-Khaleej newspaper, citing unnamed sources.

The review would include proposals to bring private and public sector salaries in line with one another, as well as increasing private sector holidays, it adds.

“The aim is to reach a compromise that will do justice to Emirati employees, and at the same time satisfy businessmen and company owners, so that Emiratisation can be a real addition, rather than seen as a burden or too costly,” reports al-Khaleej.

A little more than 11 percent of the UAE’s estimated 8.3 million people are citizens, with the rest being mostly foreign workers.

The jobless rate among Emiratis sits officially at 14 percent. UAE citizens are conferred generous benefits, receiving free government education, health care and assistance in housing.

At a recent forum, the UAE’s prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, told hundreds of officials that finding jobs for its citizens was one of the government’s top priorities.

His deputy, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahayan, said the Ministry of Labour had been tasked with adjusting working days and hours  to make the private sector more appealing to Emiratis.


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