What is Emiratisation?
Emiratisation is an initiative taken by the UAE government to get more of its citizens into work, in particular, into private sector jobs. It is similar to the initiative taken by Saudi Arabia, named Saudisation. It isn’t something new, but it is has recently picked up pace especially with the latest developments.
It was introduced in the UAE a decade ago. It made it compulsory for companies, particularly in the private sector, to have a certain number of Emiratis in their work force (explained further later). This is crucial for the UAE as the want to go from being dependent on oil to becoming an economy based on knowledge.
Unfortunately, this does not seem to have gone as swiftly as planned though. AbdulMutalib Hashim, managing director at TBH, an Emiratisation consultancy stated that “The UAE do not seem to be anywhere near achieving the Emiratisation targets in the private sector which was announced a few years ago” (D’Mello, and Tesorero, 2019).
Why the further push for Emiratisation now?
The UAE cannot and will not survive on oil forever, so, they need to prepare for the future and what better way than to invest in their own people. Encourage them to be self-reliant and productive members of society. This is the backbone of any successful nation.
Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, the Chairman of the Department of Community Development and member of the Executive Council stated, “we don’t want a society that is dependent on social welfare.” He added that this initiative will make the UAE nationals more “active” (The National, 2018). By getting Emiratis into work and less reliant on social welfare, it will create a more productive society. This enables them to prepare for the inevitable post-oil era.
Mariam al Roumi, the then minister of social affairs, also reiterated the same sentiments back in 2012 (The National, 2012). She rejected the call to extend benefits for the unemployed for those who are fit to work. Why? It only pushes its citizens to fall into dependency.
What does it mean for the UAE?
On Sunday the 29th of September, it was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid that the government will create 20,000 new jobs for Emiratis in the next three years. This is in addition to the fact that managerial jobs in the government are restricted to Emiratis and that they will get priority for 160 types of job in private sector.
If this recent drive achieves its goals, then expect to see a lot more Emiratis around especially as colleagues. This can only be a positive thing for expats, Emiratis and the UAE in general. The UAE is culturally diverse, very diverse, but some would argue that this diversity is void of actual Emiratis themselves. This would, of course, solve that problem.
Who does it affect?
We can break this down into three different categories. Firstly, the Emiratis, then the expats and finally the business owners.
What does it mean for Emiratis?
Sheikh Zayed, the Founding President of the UAE once stated: “It is my duty as the leader of the young people of this country to encourage them to work and to exert themselves to be of service to the country.” Keeping this in mind, Emiratis must rejoice at the new developments and the opportunities that will come their way.
Sheikh Hamdan stated that “providing a decent life to every citizen is our top priority” (D’Mello, and Tesorero, 2019). And what better way than to get citizens involved in the development of the society making them feel like valuable members and giving them that sense of fulfilment.
How has the response been from the UAE citizens? A quick look at the comments under Sheikh Mohammed’s tweet will show you how proud and happy the Emiratis are with their leader and this particular initiative. Plaudits are arriving from citizens and expats alike with statements such as “a ruler with the people in his heart” being tweeted. This surely is a great move and one they should definitely be proud of.
They must be proactive though. It is one thing to be happy with the move, but it is another to go out and actually grab these opportunities and truly excel and become valuable members of society. A global issue faced by many is the fear of the professional world and a fear only exists because it is unknown. The solution to this is to embark upon professional development courses that will prepare them for the working world and truly enable them to flourish and feel confident in doing so.
What does it mean for expats?
Will the opportunities for expats decrease due to this Emiratisation drive? It is not clear at this very moment as the progress has been rather slow. However, Sheikh Mohammed stated that there is no contradiction between providing more opportunities for Emiratis and finding and employing top foreign talent.
What does it mean for business owners?
There is a legal requirement for companies in the UAE to have a particular number of Emiratis in their work force. A commercial company that has over 50 employees must be represented by 2% Emiratis. That increases for banks to 4% and for insurance companies to 5%. This is in accordance to the 1999 law, updated in 2005 (The National, 2019). Unfortunately, many companies do not meet the targets at all. The reason being it is usually more expensive to employ Emiratis and the question mark remains whether they are as professionally competent.
Sheikh Mohammed has mentioned that those who fail to meet the Emiratisation requirements will “financially contribute with the government to support the Emiratisation programme”. In addition, Sultan Al Yammahi, a former member of the Federal National Coucil who campaigned on Emiratisation, claimed it was appropriate that private sector companies should contribute.
“Foreign companies are benefitting from deals worth millions of dirhams by doing business in the UAE. They should be responsible enough to either recruit Emiratis or at least train them,” Yammahi said (The National, 2019).
Emirati Haitham Saeed Awadh Al Tamimi, a Dubai banker, stated that a lot of organisations are belittling the issue of Emiratisation and that they are taking on Emiratis only because they have to and not because of their skills and abilities (D’Mello, and Tesorero, 2019). What they need to start realising is that in the long run, private sectors will benefit from the knowledge and culture that Emiratis will bring.
Sheikh Zayed’s ethos
The country’s Founding President, Sheikh Zayed, was a firm believer of the importance and need for everyone in society to contribute. We shall conclude this post with some powerful statements from the late great leader (The National, 2018):
“The individual who is healthy and of a sound mind and body who does not work commits a crime against himself and society.”
“I want to see some of you become planters, doers, makers and workers – and not be satisfied only with holding down high positions.”
D’Mello, S. and Tesorero, A. (2019). Push for Emiratisation will help citizens prove their mettle. [Online]. Khaleej Times. Available from: https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/general/push-for-emiratisation-will-help-citizens-prove-their-mettle- [Accessed 30 September 2019].
HH Sheikh Mohammed (2019) 29 September. Available at: https://twitter.com/HHShkMohd/status/1178266328232275969 [Accessed 1 October 2019].
Gulf New. (2019). UAE sets the ball rolling on Emiratisation. [Online]. Gulf News. Available from: https://gulfnews.com/opinion/editorials/uae-sets-the-ball-rolling-on-emiratisation-1.66791568 [Accessed 1 October 2019].
Gulf Today. (2019). Right measures to boost Emiratisation. [Online]. Gulf Today. Available from: https://www.gulftoday.ae/opinion/2019/09/29/right-measures-to-boost-emiratisation [Accessed 1 October 2019].
The National. (2012). Jobless Emiratis who are fit to work ‘won’t get benefits’. [Online]. The National. Available from: https://www.thenational.ae/uae/jobless-emiratis-who-are-fit-to-work-won-t-get-benefits-1.394974 [Accessed 23 September 2019].
The National. (2018). Reform to benefits for Emiratis able to work in Abu Dhabi. [Online]. The National. Available from: https://www.thenational.ae/uae/government/reform-to-benefits-for-emiratis-able-to-work-in-abu-dhabi-1.800912 [Accessed 23 September 2019].
The National. (2019). Emiratisation will help build a post-oil future. [Online]. The National. Available from: https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/editorial/emiratisation-will-help-build-a-post-oil-future-1.917314 [Accessed 1 October 2019].
The National. (2019). UAE to create 20,000 new jobs for Emiratis. [Online]. The National. Available from: https://www.thenational.ae/uae/government/uae-to-create-20-000-new-jobs-for-emiratis-1.916607 [Accessed 30 September 2019].