UAE leaders honour companies that embraced Emirati hiring campaign

Majid Al Futtaim, Al Masar Employment Services and KPMG receive awards for excelling in Emiratisation targets

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President Sheikh Mohamed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, have honoured Emiratis at the Nafis awards at a ceremony held in Abu Dhabi.

The awards on Wednesday at Qasr Al Watan were for private sector companies that have excelled in achieving their Emiratisation targets and their training of Emiratis.

They also recognise citizens who have achieved outstanding performance results under the Nafis programme in the private sector.

The Nafis award for large companies (with 1,000 or more employees) went to Majid Al Futtaim, while the prize for medium-sized companies (500 to 999 employees) was won by Al Masar Recruitment Services. KPMG won the award for small companies (with fewer than 500 employees).

In addition, 21 other companies were recognised for distinguishing themselves in achieving Emiratisation targets and training.

There were also awards for 24 Emirati citizens who excelled in their chosen careers in the private sector.

President Sheikh Mohamed said empowering a skilled and qualified national workforce is a top priority for the UAE which should be supported by all institutions, government departments and private sector partners working together.

He expressed confidence in Emiratis' ability to drive the country's economic leadership and competitiveness in various fields.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said the Emiratisation programme is important to the UAE’s future.

"We have ambitious national objectives to develop the Emiratisation programme, which is crucial to the UAE's development journey," he said.

“Our policy focuses on strengthening partnerships between government and private sector institutions, investing in youth potential, and enhancing their expertise."

Launched in September 2021, Nafis, which means “compete” in Arabic, was set up to ensure key Emiratisation targets were met in 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.

Figures released in January showed that 28,700 Emiratis had taken jobs at private companies since the launch of the Nafis employment programme 12 months previously.

The Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council, headed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, said Nafis had exceeded expectations last year, with more than 50,000 UAE citizens now working in the private sector.

This month, the UAE introduced the Industrialist Programme, designed to increase Emiratisation in the industrial sector, upskill national graduates and help them find skilled jobs.

The training programme aims to empower talent, develop skills and provide job opportunities for UAE citizens as part of the National In-Country Value (ICV) programme.

Private sector companies with at least 50 employees must ensure at least 3 per cent of their workforce is made up of Emiratis by July 1.

In revised targets set out last month, employers in the UAE are expected to meet a 4 per cent target as part of the Emiratisation drive by the end of the year.

The Emirati employment rate is to increase to 6 per cent next year, 8 per cent in 2025 and 10 per cent in 2026.

Officials said about Dh400 million ($108.9 million) in fines have been issued to companies that failed to meet a January 1 deadline for Emiratisation targets.

The government is determined to increase domestic participation in the private sector, saying it remains central to the economic prosperity of the country.

Updated: March 29, 2023, 3:32 PM