Hiring Guide

How to Create Work Friendly Culture In UAE

Learn how to foster a work-friendly environment in the UAE that promotes Emiratisation with inclusive policies

0 min read time
Faye Ameen
Talent Acquisition Manager

From the vibrant culture to the towering skyscrapers, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stands as a symbol of rapid growth and innovation. Within this dynamic landscape, the push for Emiratisation has taken center stage. More than just a governmental directive, Emiratisation seeks to enhance the role of Emiratis within the nation's workforce, making it important for managers and recruiters to be able to attract and retain Emirati talent.

In this article, we delve into strategies that organizations can embrace to foster a work-friendly environment that not only supports Emiratisation goals but also propels Emirati talents toward success.

What is the Work Culture like in the UAE?

The UAE, situated at the crossroads of Asia and Africa, showcases a dynamic blend of cultures and influences. With nearly 80% of its population comprising expatriates, the UAE's multicultural landscape is reflected in its vibrant society. However, while the country is relatively liberal within the region due to its diverse demographics, understanding the core Emirati culture remains vital, given that many businesses are owned by Emiratis. Embracing Islamic traditions, respectful behavior, modest dressing at religious sites, and an understanding of local sensitivities are essential.

Additionally, according to Global Business Culture, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a prominent aspect of UAE's business culture, reinforced by a 2018 CSR law that mandates reporting and offers incentives for CSR activities. Companies demonstrating robust social responsibility are rewarded with financial benefits and exemptions. This shift towards CSR is transforming business practices and pushing companies to invest in development projects, environmentally friendly policies, and community engagement. 

Alongside these changes, the UAE's hierarchical business landscape, networking significance, the integration of religion and business ethics, and the rise of women in the workforce further characterize the evolving work culture in the Emirates.

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How has Emritisation Impacted UAE’s Work Culture?

Emiratisation, a cornerstone initiative of the UAE government, has been designed to bolster the participation of UAE nationals in the private sector, reflecting the country's commitment to empowering its citizens within the workforce. Commencing on January 1, 2023, the new Emiratisation requirements set the stage for a significant shift in hiring practices and employer-candidate dynamics. These changes are poised to reshape the landscape of UAE work culture, bringing forth key implications for both employers and potential candidates seeking opportunities in the country.

Requirements for Hiring Emiratis

The pivotal Emiratisation reforms come into effect in the beginning of 2023, introducing a new paradigm for hiring and workforce composition. For companies based onshore (mainland UAE), the requirements are mandatory. 

According to Odyssey Recruitment, the Emiratisation quotas, aimed at boosting the number of UAE nationals in the private sector, require companies with 50 or more employees to incrementally increase their Emirati workforce by 2% annually until achieving a 10% Emiratisation rate by 2026. However, it's important to note that the quotas remain distinct for the banking and insurance sectors, maintaining them at 4% and 5%, respectively.

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Conditions for Employers and Candidates

In an effort to enforce Emiratisation quotas and foster a more inclusive workforce, employers in the UAE will face penalties for failing to meet these requirements. Specifically, non-compliance with Emiratisation quotas will result in fines of AED 6,000 per month for each Emirati employee falling short of the established quota. This penalty will incrementally increase by AED 1,000 per month annually, emphasizing the significance of aligning with the government's workforce diversity goals. 

Additionally, attaining the coveted Platinum membership within the Tawteen Partners Club, a prestigious initiative supporting Emiratisation, now demands employers to either triple their Emiratisation quota through an annual ratio increase or actively participate in the Nafis program by training a minimum of 500 Emirati nationals each year. This underscores the government's commitment to promoting local talent development and workforce inclusivity.

As for candidates, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) is playing a pivotal role in facilitating Emirati employment through the Tawteen initiative. This program fosters collaboration between stakeholders to enhance local human resources in line with market demand, thus advancing the employment of UAE nationals within the private sector.

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What is the Tawteen Program?

Mentioned previously, The Tawteen initiative introduces innovative avenues for job seekers, offering registration, employer services, training and skills development, and career counseling through the Tawteen Gate

Moreover, the Nafis program, part of the 'Projects of the 50,' aims to support Emirati nationals in pursuing professional careers within the private sector. This program offers various strands of support, such as a recruitment portal to connect job applicants with companies, reduced employer pension contributions for UAE nationals, and salary contributions for each UAE national hired under the scheme. 

These initiatives signify the UAE's commitment to nurturing its local workforce while inviting a new era of work culture aligned with the spirit of Emiratisation.

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Factors Contributing to a Work-Friendly Culture for Emirati Talent

Building a work environment that is welcoming and supportive of Emirati talent requires a comprehensive approach that addresses diversity, inclusivity, and employee engagement. 

Several key factors play a significant role in fostering an atmosphere where Emirati employees can thrive:

1. Diversity in the Workplace:

The concept of workplace diversity extends beyond mere representation; it encompasses the inclusion of individuals from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Embracing a diverse workforce not only enhances creativity and innovation but also promotes better problem-solving and decision-making. 

To achieve this, companies can hire diverse talent, implement inclusive policies, educate managers, and create employee-led task forces. Providing career programs, engagement opportunities, and mentorship initiatives empowers individuals, while workplace flexibility accommodates diverse needs. Embracing diversity is pivotal in UAE's context, promoting innovation and boosting business success.

2. Inclusive Workplace Policies:

Developing inclusive policies that cater to the unique needs of all employees is crucial. These policies may range from religious holiday observances to on-site daycare facilities. Ensuring non-gendered restrooms, offering flexible work hours, and using language translation tools like a mobile workforce app all contribute to making the workplace more inclusive. 

By acknowledging and accommodating different backgrounds and requirements, employers can create an environment where Emirati talent feels respected and supported.

3. Career Counseling and Training Programs:

Investing in Emirati employees' professional growth through career counseling and training programs is a strategic move that benefits both individuals and the organization. These programs can empower Emirati talent with the skills needed to excel in their roles and climb the career ladder. 

By providing accessible resources for continuous education and development, companies send a strong message that they value their Emirati employees' growth and contributions.

4. Opportunities for Employee Engagement:

Creating platforms for employees to engage with each other and the organization is vital. Employee engagement initiatives, such as internal communication strategies and employee-led task forces, allow Emirati employees to voice their concerns, ideas, and suggestions. 

This collaborative approach promotes a sense of belonging and demonstrates that the organization values every employee's input, regardless of their background.

5. Workplace Flexibility:

Offering workplace flexibility, including options for remote work and flexible hours, acknowledges the diverse needs and circumstances of Emirati employees. This flexibility can be particularly beneficial for working parents, commuters, and those who require special arrangements.

Recognizing and accommodating various work styles can contribute to Emirati employees' well-being and job satisfaction.

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As the UAE strives to create a more inclusive workforce and boost Emiratisation efforts, these factors collectively contribute to a work environment that attracts, retains, and nurtures Emirati talent. Amid the dynamic changes in the UAE's job market, which witnessed an unemployment rate of 2.75% as of December 2022 and an employment change rate of 2.00% in March 2020, creating a work-friendly environment that supports Emirati talent is a strategic imperative for businesses seeking long-term success.

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Creating an Emiratisation work-friendly place is a multifaceted endeavor that involves understanding the cultural intricacies of the UAE, embracing Emiratisation initiatives, and fostering an inclusive, supportive environment for Emirati talents. By promoting diversity, implementing inclusive policies, and offering growth opportunities, organizations can not only comply with Emiratisation goals but also cultivate a workforce that thrives in a positive and productive work culture.

As the UAE continues to evolve, so too will its workforce. Organizations that prioritize Emiratisation and actively work toward creating an environment that celebrates and supports Emirati talents are likely to reap the rewards of a motivated, engaged, and empowered workforce.

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