UAE Nationals workforce to double to 500,000 by 2020

Economy must create more jobs for Emiratis in next 11 years than last 40, says minister.

The UAE national workforce is expected to double by 2020 to reach 500,000, the UAE's Minister of Labour said on Sunday.

Saqr Gobash said at the Human Assets Expansion Congress Mid-East that a main challenge was to create job opportunities for UAE nationals, especially for those below 30, UAE daily Gulf News reported.

The Emirati workforce is around 250,000 workers now but more than 38 per cent of the UAE Nationals are below the age of 15, according to data.

Some 15,000 Emiratis graduate every year, according to The National Human and Resource Development and Employment authority (Tanmia) statistics, the paper said.

"Our economy needs to create more job opportunities in the next eleven years than it created collectively in the last four decades," the paper quoted Gobash as saying.

Another challenge which Gobash highlighted is the concentration of Nationals in the public sector and the concentration of new opportunities in non-productive sectors.

"The ministry will also work on improving expatriate workforce skills through developed regulations for recruitment that aim to increase the productivity and to reduce the gap between the cost of recruitment and its return on the national product and enhance legislations that protect the expatriate workforce," he said.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Expat UAE

@Emad Al Mazrouei: I agree. I know lots of UAE nationals who are very hardworking. In fact I know them to be more hardworking than people from other countries.

Posted by: Doug

"In fact I know them to be more hardworking than people from other countries."

It's comments like these that cheapen the debate. Let's get things clear; people are people. There's lazy and diligent workers from every nationality, and reducing entire countries to stereotypes (even if those stereotypes are positive) are part of the reason why there is an imbalance in the UAE workplace demographics.

Posted by: Emad Al Mazrouei

Using Asian labor with Western and Asian supervision is a myopic and not a wise decision, it is detrimental to the career and reputation of all UAE locals. As a hard working local I am very offended by all these claims that the UAE locals are lazy irresponsible and incompetent. This has nothing to do with nationality so please cease and desist from besmirching our reputation anywhere and everywhere. Let's not begrudge anyone irrespective of his nationality any position if he's truly worthy of that responsibility. Rampant nepotism thrives all over this country where jobs and grades are liberally given depending on who one knows or is from as opposed to what one knows or has accomplished; no wonder service is deteriorating; no wonder there is no accountability simply because where nepotism thrives, accountability wanes and professionalism ebbs. Meritocracy has been sacrificed at the altar of nepotism and the only solution is to fix and enforce the quotas for locals and our Arab brethren.

Posted by: Asad Hafeez

Finally a well thought mail from Emad that addresses issues practically. Especially the fact that merit should be rewarded.

Posted by: Telcoguy

@lubna, I assume at one point or other anybody may need to get fired. That is what I have seen many, many times. My old company here has fired over 70% of their stuff. That is right only 1 in 3 is left, including senior partners.
I have 3 questions for you:
-do you understand what an unfunded liability is? That is what the UAE legal system means for companies.
-will emirates report to an expat?
-why there are no more startup businesses in the UAE led by emiratis? I only see them in government owned/backed companies.

Can you answer these questions for me, please?

Posted by: TelcoGuy

@Mohamed, if you hire an emirati you do not know how much will it cost to terminate him. It is a very simple concept I think.
-My attitude? I have stated my position based on a pure financial fact. If an Emirati wants to work for us I would be glad to hire him or her in the EU or in Singapore, on equal footing as everyone else.
-Good, I never met any, only Kuwaitis and Saudis. Are they hiring plenty of Emiratis? If this is the case why is this law needed?
In very simple terms: the higher the barriers to fire, the lower the job creation. You can not force job creation.

Posted by: Mohamed

It is true that fresh graduates/ juniors should starts at lower positions to gain experience. I also think the majority of UAE fresh grads don't have expectations of being managers right after graduation. It seems to me that this is an exaggerations some expats like to repeat time and again.
UAE nationals don't have to work as construction workers, waiters or taxi drivers to prove that they can work (although I have nothing personal against those who have these professions)!!
UAE fresh grads should work in junior positions in more strategic/value adding sectors to the country and economy (i.e. knowledge based sectors). Besides, if UAE nationals with their low numbers work on professions that some are suggesting, then who would lead the country?!
I am sure that when there is nobody left to do such jobs, then nationals will do them, the older generations have been doing much harder jobs after all, but until then, UAE nationals should occupy more rewarding and value adding professions.

Posted by: chris

Mohamed, I guess I forgot to mention that these two applicants were the only Emiratis applied for this position and they were in fact recommended by somebody in charge of Emiratisation in their company. That's why I said it might be just their luck but if two out of two Emirati applicants failed to even show a good impression during the interview (let alone after getting hired), I understand if they decided not to hire anymore. If you read my other comment on this page, you would know that I personally know some Emiratis who ARE willing to work, but unfortunately most of them are those who have been in the industry for decades, way before UAE became what it is now. They themselves were concerned that the new generation seems to be spoiled by the government fund and all other benefits for simply holding UAE IDs. Please do not tell me you are not aware of this?

Posted by: TelcoGuy

@mohamed, that is a different issue. Yes the quality of many expats here is certainly below average for their pay. I agree that is a serious issue, but you can not solve it by forcing Emiratis in the work force.
The real issue is that the UAE, and to some extent the rest of the GCC need to rethink their development model and this is going to take time and involve painful measures.
Yes, is your country and you can do as you please. But you can not bend the laws of economy the same way you can not bend the laws of Nature. Sooner or later reality catches up, having seen this in my country, I would advise to face that moment the sooner the better. But again, when situation does not make sense for me any more I will move to Doha or somewhere else. The cost of relocating is fairly low, the impact, a few more hours of flight. I can fix that hiring someone that I can manage properly.

Posted by: employer

the last time i tried to recruit an Emirati college graduate, i had 2 to interview, the first did not turn up to the interview and when i called he was still in bed.

Secondly the other interviewee, who turned up 30 minutes late, had an unrealistic wage expectation more than double that for someone entering our industry as a graduate with no commercial experience, and therefore would need to be trained from day one by my company for at least 6 months before they became to the point of breaking even for us.. in addition they requested shorter working hours as our companies hours were too long (8am to 6pm)

Now I'm not suggesting all emirati graduates are the same but this is my experience of looking to recruit a UAE national

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Everything you need to know about Qatar

Everything you need to know about Qatar

Former British protectorate has been ruled by the Al-Thani family...

The Al Thanis are Qatar's power family

The Al Thanis are Qatar's power family

New research sheds light on the overwhelming influence of the...

Raising the bar: DLA Piper plans fresh growth in the Gulf

Raising the bar: DLA Piper plans fresh growth in the Gulf

Legal firm DLA Piper’s Middle East business recorded 10 percent...

Most Discussed