A government initiative driving efforts to grow Emirati participation in the private sector has helped to increase the local workforce by more than 50,000 since its launch two years ago.
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 were taken up by citizens by the end of 2026, as part of a major Emiratisation push.
More than 82,000 Emiratis are now employed outside of the public sector – up 52,000 since the start of the campaign, Nafis said.
The latest figures represent a significant rise on the 50,228 citizens employed in the sector at the end of 2022.
Nafis said it had created 32,000 job opportunities for Emiratis since its inception.
The federal body stated that 17,000 companies have hired Emiratis, while 61,000 citizens have benefited from monthly financial support programmes in place to encourage more workers to join the private sector.
Under the programme, Emiratis working in the sector are entitled to salary top-ups as they would typically earn more in the public sector.
Encouraging local talent
The UAE wants Emiratis to play a significant role in the private sector, which remains a driving force for economic development.
Companies must increase their Emirati workforce by 1 per cent every six months as part of the nationwide push.
Employers in the UAE with at least 50 members of staff are expected to meet a 4 per cent target by the end of the year.
The Emirati employment rate will increase to 6 per cent in 2024, 8 per cent in 2025 and 10 per cent in 2026.
In July, the UAE announced that companies with 20 to 49 employees would be required to fill a quota for the first time, hiring at least one Emirati in 2024 and another by 2025.
Heavy fines have been imposed on companies and people seeking to manipulate the government-set targets to avoid financial penalties.
This week, thousands of Emirati jobseekers attended a major job fair hoping to secure employment in Dubai.
More than 100 firms were present at the Ru'ya 2023 Careers UAE Redefined event at Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday.
Firms that attended included Citi Bank, Dubai Police and Etisalat.