Number of Emiratis working in private sector tops 100,000 for first time

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, sets out plans to create another 100,000 jobs for Emiratis over next three years

Emiratis attend a job fair in Sharjah. More than 100,000 Emiratis are now employed in the private sector. Photo: Sharjah Job Fair
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The number of Emiratis working in the private sector has exceeded 100,000 for the first time, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced on Sunday.

The Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai said more than 70,000 citizens have joined private companies in the past two and a half years alone in a message on X, formerly Twitter.

Sheikh Mohammed, also Vice President, set out plans to accelerate the country's Emiratisation drive by giving priority for government department positions to those who have worked in the private sector for at least three years.

The strategy - first announced at a UAE Cabinet meeting earlier this month - will support efforts to create an additional 100,000 jobs for citizens over the next three years, he said.

"I reviewed the results of the Emiratisation strategy in the private sector in the UAE. For the first time in the country's history, the number of Emiratis working in the private sector has exceeded 100,000," Sheikh Mohammed wrote on X.

He added: "70,000 of them joined in the last two and a half years following the launch of the Nafis programme by my brother, the President of the UAE, with generous support amounting to Dh24 billion, and the introduction of many supportive and incentivising legislations for Emiratisation in the private sector, along with the rapid economic growth in our country.

"We approved a new policy in the Cabinet to give employment preference in the government sector to those with three years of experience in the private sector.

"Our appreciation and thanks go to the team at Nafis and the Ministry of Emiratisation and Human Resources, overseen by my brother Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, for their work on this important national issue.

"Our goal is to add 100,000 new jobs for citizens over the next three years."

Emiratisation drive gathers pace

The UAE has embarked on a major push to encourage more local talent to join the private sector, which remains a driving force behind the nation's economic development.

The UAE's Nafis programme was introduced in September 2021 with a mission to ensure 10 per cent of all jobs in the private sector are taken up by citizens by the end of 2026.

Companies must increase their Emirati workforce by 1 per cent every six months as part of the nationwide initiative.

Employers in the UAE with at least 50 members of staff were required to meet a 4 per cent target by the end of 2023.

The Emirati employment rate will increase to 6 per cent by the end of 2024, 8 per cent in 2025 and 10 per cent in 2026.

Last year, the government directed that businesses employing between 20 and 49 people must have at least one Emirati staff member by the end of 2024, and two by the end of 2025, in a further expansion of the Emirsatisation campaign.

Updated: May 26, 2024, 9:25 AM