Revealed: the size of the UAE's private sector workforce

Senior gov't official says more than 338,000 private sector firms employ 5.26 million in the UAE
Revealed: the size of the UAE's private sector workforce
Private sector growth in the UAE slipped to its slowest rate for more than two years in December.
By Sam Bridge
Thu 24 Jan 2019 01:44 PM

More than 338,000 private sector companies are operating in UAE with a combined workforce of 5.26 million, according to a top official at the Ministry of Economy.

"The private sector's contribution to the UAE GDP grew 5 percent to 70.5 percent in 2018 in translation of the government's growing interest in the sector, being a key driver of economic growth," said Abdullah Al Saleh, Under-Secretary of Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade, in comments published by state news agency WAM.

His comments come as private sector growth in the UAE slipped to its slowest rate for more than two years in December.

The Emirates NBD Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the UAE fell to 54.0 last month from 55.8 in November, its slowest pace of expansion since October 2016.

On average, the PMI score reached 55.5 during 2018, down from 56.1 in 2017.

The PMI said that a squeeze on margins is apparently taking its toll on head count and pay - both employment and staff costs were broadly flat compared to a month earlier.

Only 1.4 percent of firms took on new staff while all respondents reported their staffing costs unchanged, maintaining a trend recorded throughout the second half of 2018.

In a speech at the First Arab Corporate Citizenship Forum in Abu Dhabi, Al Saleh added: "The UAE is laying a particular focus on the private sector's contribution to the National Innovation Strategy announced in 2015, which is based on accelerating R&D efforts to address key challenges like water scarcity, climate change, waste recycling, renewables, food security, and others, in addition to empowering the sector to play a significant role in AI applications."

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