Private businesses in the UAE that employ between 20 and 49 people have four months to recruit one Emirati staff member if they have not done so already.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation states that for companies with more than 20 employees but fewer than 50, one Emirati must be on staff in a skilled position by January 1, 2024, while another must be employed by January 1, 2025.
The requirement applies to privately-owned companies across 14 sectors including real estate, education, construction and health care.
Companies who fail to comply by January 1 face a fine of Dh96,000 ($26,000).
That fine will increase to Dh108,000 for businesses that have not employed two Emiratis in 2025.
Previously, only private companies with 50 or more employees were subject to Emiratisation rules. Those businesses in free zones were exempt from the ruling.
There has been no confirmation yet if the same exemption will apply to companies with 20 to 49 employees in free zones.
The sectors affected by the ruling are:
- Information and communications
- Financial and insurance activities
- Professional and technical activities
- Administrative and support services
- Arts and entertainment
- Mining and quarrying
- Transformative industries
- Health care and social work
- Wholesale and retail
- Transport and warehousing
- Hospitality and residency services
This week, the UAE announced it fined more than 500 companies for breaking Emiratisation rules.
Latest figures, released on Wednesday, show that more than 81,000 Emiratis are employed in the private sector, up from 79,000 at the start of July. They are employed by 17,000 companies.
A total of 565 companies have been penalised for false Emiratisation since June last year, with 129 companies fined since July.
False Emiratisation includes family members being hired with no real role, or forging employment records by obtaining false work permits in the name of UAE citizens.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said the penalised companies had been issued with fines ranging from Dh20,000 to Dh100,000.
It said those companies no longer receive financial benefits from the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council programme for employing UAE citizens.