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UAE to intensify Emiratisation efforts over seven years


Dubai ruler says country will boost private sector jobs for nationals tenfold by 2021.

January 15, 2014 2:39 by

The government wants to increase the number of its citizens employed in the private sector by 2021, and will intervene in the labour market if necessary to reach that goal, the UAE’s prime minister said earlier this week.

Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was listing the government’s policy goals for the next seven years in a speech to more than 300 officials in Abu Dhabi.

“Our goal is to increase the Emiratisation in the private sector tenfold. The government will enforce a number of measures if there is not enough incentive for working in the private sector,” says His Highness.

Fewer than 15 per cent of the UAE’s population of approximately nine million people are estimated to be local citizens. More than two thirds of UAE citizens in employment work in the public sector, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

His Highness did not elaborate on what steps the government might take. However, officials have been considering a range of options, including changing labour laws to make private sector employment more attractive for citizens and imposing a tax on foreign workers’ remittances of money to their home countries.

The UAE government has been keen to move more of its citizens to the private sector to diversify the economy and ease pressure on state finances. In fact, Sheikh Mohammed labeled 2013 as “the year of Emiratisation”, and the country has intensified its efforts to get nationals into private sector jobs.

According to a report by Aon Hewitt, released in November 2013, UAE nationals working in the private sector report significantly higher levels of engagement and satisfaction (60 per cent) compared to their counterparts in the public sector (34 per cent).

The Qudurat report noted that the private sector in the UAE is making significant headway in terms of engaging national talent, despite the widely held perception that the public sector is the preferred employment route for Emiratis.

A few days prior to the release of this report, renowned UAE lawyer Habib Al Mulla, who helped draft a number of important laws in the country, said that Emiratisation’s efforts to reduce the “shocking” unemployment rate among nationals by imposing quotas on private sector companies have failed to make a dent.

“Imposing quotas is an easy solution to the problem of unemployment. However, it’s a temporary, impractical and deceiving solution,” he says.

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