UAE citizens working in the government sector will be given paid leave at half of their salary to start their own business under a plan unveiled on Thursday.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister, who chaired a Cabinet meeting at Al Watan Palace in Abu Dhabi, said approval was given for the scheme which he said will encourage more young Emiratis to start their own businesses.
“We are looking to encourage our young people to benefit from the major opportunities offered by our national economy,” Sheikh Mohammed said on Twitter.
The sabbatical leave will be granted to an employee for one year to establish or manage any of the private projects he or she owns, provided that the purpose of the leave is to establish an economic project in the private sector or manage an existing project or participating with others.
In September, the Nafis initiative set a target of getting 75,000 Emiratis into the private sector. The plan is to ensure that 10 per cent of the private-sector workforce are citizens in the next five years.
In February, Sheikh Mohammed announced the launch of a new drive to boost the Emirati workforce in the private sector.
As part of the plan, the government will provide “additional incentives” for companies supporting the employment of citizens.
In May, the Cabinet decreed that companies with more than 50 employees should have a 2 per cent Emirati workforce by next year, moving up to 10 per cent by 2026.
Businesses can post jobs and Emiratis can apply for positions at https://nafis.gov.ae/. A company that fails to reach the target must pay Dh6,000 a month for every Emirati it fails to hire.
Economy is flourishing
The Cabinet reviewed our economic results compared to the pre-pandemic period and revealed that the latest figures showed growth in all sectors.
“Our economy is flourishing and growing,” said Sheikh Mohammed said on Twitter.
He said the UAE recorded 47 per cent growth in non-oil exports, 16 per cent growth in foreign investments and 126 per cent growth in new companies registered in the UAE.
The government approved 33 initiatives in August 2020 to support various sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Cabinet was told that the initiatives had a 100 per cent success rate in empowering the economy, developing sectors and opening new markets.
Latest figures presented to Cabinet showed that the real GDP was 3.8 per cent in 2021, exceeding the estimates of international institutions by 1.7 per cent, whereas the non-oil GDP reached 5.3 per cent in the same year.
The UAE economy is set to expand by an annual 5.4 per cent this year, driven by the country’s success in containing the health and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Central Bank.
The IMF projects that the UAE economy will grow 4.2 per cent this year while Japan's largest lender MUFG expects it to grow 4.9 per cent.
Financial and tax system
The Cabinet approved a number of amendments on tax regulations aimed at enhancing business and investment environment.
It approved an amendment of the Federal Decree on Tax Procedures with the aim of creating an approximation and coordination with corporate tax law.
The Cabinet also approved Dh2.4 billion of housing loans for 500 Emiratis which will be handed out over the next six months.
“Our aim is to accomplish 13,000 houses from Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme in the coming years. We will continue to support our people,” he said in the tweet.
The current year's target is 3,000 housing loans beneficiaries.
The Cabinet signed performance agreements for a number of ministries to complete 36 new projects over the next six to 12 months.
“The agreements stipulate the completion of 36 transformational short cycles projects within six months to a maximum of 12 months,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“The projects aim at enabling ministries to respond to all changes quickly and with greater flexibility.”
At the Cabinet meeting in June, Ministries and federal agencies were asked to submit development proposals within the next 50 days to ensure government plans remained on track.
Sheikh Mohammed last month that the federal government needed to double its efforts and accelerate major national projects.
A series of meetings were held in April this year to set out the way the federal government will work in the future.
It will shift its focus to “short-term transformational projects” and give more control to federal ministries.
Tribute to Mother of the Nation
At the end of the cabinet meeting, Sheikha Fatima, the Mother of the Nation, was honoured and recognised as the most important figure supporting gender balance in the country as part of the UAE Gender Balance Index.
“Sheikha Fatma’s journey in empowering Emirati women is an exceptional model at the regional and global level,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
The Ministry of Culture and Youth & the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports was honoured for supporting gender balance and the Ministry of Community Development was honoured in the category of the Best Initiative for Supporting Gender Balance for the “Al Sana'a” initiative that supports productive Emirati families and disabled people.