The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced measures to help diversify its economy away from dependency on hydrocarbons, and to create jobs for Emiratis in new private-sector opportunities.
The package includes an investment of AED24 billion to create 75,000 new private-sector jobs for Emiratis. Private sector companies in the UAE will now have to fill 10 percent of their positions with Emirati nationals within five years
The announcement also includes grants for students and new graduates to take up private sector roles, an AED1 billion graduate business development fund, a government-backed new private-sector child allowance and unemployment benefit, as well as career break and early retirement schemes for Federal government employees wanting to start new businesses.
Similar to many GCC countries, the UAE has up to now relied on expatriates for skilled and cheap labour while nationals largely worked in government jobs. Since the 2014-2015 oil price shock, many Emiratis realised the need to join the private sector.
The new programme will be managed by the newly created Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council, a body chaired by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Presidential Affairs.
The government also said it wanted 10,000 Emiratis to join the health services during the next five years. Historically, the UAE filled the healthcare sector with foreign employees coming mostly from South-East Asian countries.
As the country engages in soft competition with its neighbour, Saudi Arabia, it is looking to balance between creating incentives for expats to relocate to the UAE and creating employment opportunities for its own population.