Patrick Obeid
Patrick Obeid
Senior Associate

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization announced yesterday that the Government’s Emiratization drive now includes private companies with 20 to 49 employees. This expansion applies to companies across 14 economic sectors, including, inter alia, real estate, education, construction, and healthcare. Previously, only companies with 50 or more employees were required to meet Emiratization targets.

The targeted companies will need to hire at least one UAE citizen in 2024 and another in 2025, as informed through the Ministry’s digital channels.

Private companies with 20 to 49 employees that fail to employ at least one Emirati in 2024 will face a fine of Dh96,000 ($26,000). The fine will increase to Dh108,000 ($30,000) for businesses that have not employed two Emiratis in 2025. Previously, only companies with 50 or more employees were subject to these hiring requirements, with businesses in free zones exempted. There has been no confirmation yet if the same exemption will apply to companies with 20 to 49 employees in free zones.

The following sectors are affected by the new ruling:
  • Information and communications
  • Financial and insurance activities
  • Real estate
  • Professional and technical activities
  • Administrative and support services
  • Arts and entertainment
  • Mining and quarrying
  • Transformative industries
  • Education
  • Healthcare and social work
  • Construction
  • Wholesale and retail
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Hospitality and residency services

The deadline for private sector companies with 50 or more employees to ensure that 3 percent of their workforce consists of Emiratis was 7 July 2023.

These measures have been introduced to encourage Emiratis to pursue skilled positions in the private sector. It was previously announced in February that firms would need to increase the proportion of Emirati employees by 1 percent every six months. The target is to reach 4 percent by the end of this year, 6 percent by the close of 2024, 8 percent the following year, and 10 percent by the end of 2026.

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