UAE Projects of the 50

Emirati employment and entrepreneurship to be facilitated by new government initiatives

On Sunday 12 September 2021, the UAE government released a series of announcements as part of the country’s Projects of the 50 initiative and directly impacting the employment of Emiratis in the private sector. All private sector companies established mainland will be required to employ a minimum of 10 % of Emirati in five years’ time, supporting the objective of getting 75,000 nationals into private sector jobs, as announced by the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council.

Current requirements for the employment if Emirati nationals

Since the launch of the Emiratization campaign (Tawteen in Arabic) in 2016, mainland established private companies are required to employ a certain number of UAE nationals, based on specific criteria related to their activity and size. All companies, however, should be publishing new employment offers on the Tawteen online portal (sometimes referred to as “Emiratization Board”), which gives priority to Emiratis to apply for these roles. With the new quota imposed to private companies, it is unknown whether the portal will remain or what role it may play in the future. Companies established in free zones are currently exempt from Emiratization and the recent announcements seem to not have impacted their status.

Encouraging entrepreneurship

Beside the increase in Emirati employment rate, the government also announced a separate plan to allow federal government employees to take a sabbatical on 50 per cent of their salary to start a business. Another measure will provide financial grants to encourage Emiratis over the age of 50 who take early retirement to start a business.

Government support to private companies

The government will be supporting private sector companies in making their offering more attractive through a series of financial incentives. For example, the government will increase an Emirati graduate’s private sector salary by Dh5,000 a month and make support payments for their children The full list of projects and initiatives can be found below. The program is due to start at the beginning of 2022.

The 13 latest projects announced:

1)  Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council
With Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed as chairman and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, as vice chairman, the council brings together representatives across federal government. It is tasked with strengthening private sector partnerships and implementing projects to provide 75,000 private sector jobs for Emiratis.

2)  Emirati Salary Support Scheme
A grant contributing to the recruitment and training costs of Emirati graduates in the private sector, with a monthly top-up of up to Dh8,000 for graduates during the first year of training and a monthly top-up of up to Dh5,000 for five years after recruitment. Top-ups are conditional and based on a range of defined target salaries.

3)  Merit Programme
A fixed monthly salary top-up of Dh 5,000 to be provided for five years to Emirati workers in specialised fields, including nursing, accountancy, and financial auditing, also lawyers, financial analysts, and coders.

4)  Pension Programme
A five-year subsidy against the pension plan contributions of Emirati staff earning less than Dh40,000 per month. And a government-paid contribution on behalf of the company against the cost of pension plans for Emirati staff in the first five years, which ensures zero contributions to the cost of Emiratis’ pensions in the first year of private sector employment.

5)  Child Allowance Scheme
A government child allowance payment will be made to Emirati staff working in the private sector of up to Dh800 per child, up to a maximum of Dh4,200 per month, to help with the costs of childcare. It will last up to the age of 21.

6) Talent Programme
An investment of Dh4.25 billion in developing specialised vocational skills for Emiratis, with internationally recognised certifications in property management, accounting, business management and technology skills.

7)  Apprentice Programme
A train-to-hire initiative to build vocational training for Emiratis in private and semi-private companies with a range of financial awards across several business sectors.

8)  Recruitment Targets
Every private sector company in UAE must ensure 10 per cent of its workforce is Emirati within five years. The figure should rise by 2 per cent each year until 10 per cent is reached, and the jobs given to UAE nationals should be in knowledge and skilled roles.

9)  National Healthcare Programme
An educational grant programme targeting the development of 10,000 Emirati healthcare workers within the coming five years. This will involve rolling out a Graduate Healthcare Assistant Programme: a Higher Diploma in Emergency Medicine and a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Supported and led by Fatima College of Health Sciences and ACTVET.

10)  Unemployment Benefit
An unemployment benefit to be paid to Emiratis working in the private sector who lose their jobs because of circumstances beyond their control, giving them a six-month period to find another position.

11)  Start-up Break
Beginning 2021, a subsidised career break of six-to-12 months for Emiratis in federal government positions to start a business. Employees would receive 50 per cent of their salary while away. Will be open to a limited number of staff each year with employer approval.

12)  Early Retirement
An opportunity for Emiratis in federal government positions to take early retirement to explore business opportunities and start a private sector business. Will include financing of five years’ salary payments or a lump sum golden handshake payment. Will be open to a limited number of staff each year, with employer approval.

13)  Graduate Fund
A Dh4 billion fund, under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, to provide micro-loans for university and fresh graduates to support their business projects, in collaboration with UAE universities.

If you would like to know how these measures will be affecting your business and what changes will be required, please contact our team:

Abdulla Galadari
Senior Partner

Mariane Iskander