Emiratis hail Dubai plan to utilise skills of retired citizens

Initiative will deliver financial support for retired citizens who wish to set up their own businesses in the emirate

The Dubai Retiree Projects Support programme was launched last week under the Dubai Social Agenda 33. Getty Images
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Retired UAE citizens in Dubai say a new government programme to support employees as they approach retirement will help them to contribute to the emirate's development.

The Dubai Retiree Projects Support programme, launched last week under the Dubai Social Agenda 33, provides financial incentives to encourage retired people back into the workforce.

Under the programme, retired workers will receive financial backing for future projects, a five-year exemption from service fees and priority consideration for government projects.

Dubai Police General Command will also set up a database to monitor the expertise and skills of the retired, or those approaching retirement, that will connect them with opportunities in the private sector.

It aims to provide retired people with financial security while allowing them to earn an additional income to supplement their pensions.

“The programme seeks to ensure stability and improved quality of life for retirees and sustain their ability to meaningfully contribute to Dubai’s development,” said Gen Abdullah Al Marri, commander-in-chief of Dubai Police and member of the Higher Committee for Development and Citizens Affairs.

"The programme reflects the respect and value we hold for retirees and those nearing retirement. It reflects our trust in their capabilities, their wealth of experience, and the significant, positive influence they have within the business community."

Coping with inflation

Mohammed Ishaq, 60, a former government worker who has been retired for 11 years, is working on his own construction project and told The National he supported the programme.

"Retired people will need assistance and guidance in business," he said. "We have the experience and knowledge that people can benefit from."

Mr Ishaq said it was important for the country to help those who have left the workforce because their retirement salaries are fixed and do not change with inflation.

By earning an additional income through the programme, he said, retired workers can cope with increased living expenses.

Yousef Ali, 56, who retired nine months ago, said business sectors could benefit by "taking in the experiences, opinions and suggestions of retired people" according to their backgrounds and fields of work.

"Retired people can also give courses to young investors to educate, direct their focus to the right perspectives and assist them," he said.

Mr Ali, who is taking a break from work, said the "UAE, regardless of the demographic, always offers help and support to its citizens".

"I think the new generations are very different from our generation. Their way of thinking, coming up with ideas, and their production and implementation is faster than how it used to be," he added.

“Although our methods in working in the business sector are different, the working experience shared with young adults is important.”

Khaled Omar, 50, who retired at the end of last year, runs his own business and wants to avoid returning to a field of work that requires him to deviate from his current routine.

"A lot of people in the UAE retire early and these are the people who have the knowledge, experience, ability and skills to open their own businesses," he told The National.

Mr Omar, who has a degree in psychology, said he looked forward to applying for the programme if he could find any opportunities that matched his skill set and gave him "freedom to choose and allows change if the financial return will not be high enough".

"It is very important for retired people to continue sharing their knowledge. It is like a person having a lot of money and distributing it to people in need," he added. "The collective knowledge might not be beneficial to everyone but it will be to those who are interested and want to learn."

Empowering productivity

Financial expert Sadia El Mubarak said encouraging the retired to get involved in SME projects will increase the capital of the country and create more opportunities that will contribute to the country's economic growth.

"By law, citizens can retire after 20 years of service, so a lot of people find themselves sitting at home when they are still capable of being productive and qualified," Ms El Mubarak told The National.

"An opportunity in which they can start their own business with benefits the programme is providing will help motivate them to do something after retiring."

Ms El Mubarak said the programme would help to create financial stability to the retired who wanted to start their own businesses, thanks to the exemption of service fees.

"When you open your own business, you need to have the funds for operational costs for at least two years and these include licensing and rent. So you find that a lot of small businesses end up shutting down because many can't afford it," she said.

"The programme carries the financial burden and responsibilities at the start of opening your business so your company can grow fast."

Some retired people face difficulties adapting to a lifestyle that does not match what they were used to due to a reduction in income after they leave work, as well as the rise in cost-of-living expenses.

"By joining the programme, retirees can benefit from extra income and help them live the same lifestyle they were used to and fill the financial gap, especially for those that have loans," Ms El Mubarak added.

Last year, monthly pension contributions for Emirati employees who joined the workforce from October 31 were increased to 26 per cent, from 20 per cent previously.

The increase in retirement contributions for new Emirati employees came after the General Pensions and Social Security Authority announced a new Federal Decree Law, No 7 on Pension and Social Security, on November 17.

The law aims to "benefit from an Emirati's experience for the longest period of time in order to serve public interest and reconsider calculating the retirement pension, so that its value increases as the employment years increase".

Updated: February 01, 2024, 6:53 AM