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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

Beat the Deadline: Discover How to Meet Emiratisation Requirements

10th May 2023

UAE private sector companies with 50 employees or more have until Friday 30th June 2023 to meet their Emiratisation targets, or face steep financial penalties.

Mandatory Emiratisation in UAE

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has set a target for all private sector mainland companies (with licenses issued by the respective emirate’s economic department), employing 50 or more staff, to increase their Emiratisation levels for high-skilled jobs to a minimum of 10%, in staged increments, by the end of 2026.

Emiratisation Programme

By the end of last year, affected companies were required to have met the first Emiratisation milestone of 2%. To further accelerate the pace of Emiratisation, in February this year, MOHRE announced its new semi-annual Emiratisation deadlines, requiring affected companies to increase the number of Emirati nationals they employ in skilled jobs by 1% every six months; therefore, 1% by 30th June 2023; and by a further 1% by 31st December 2023. The semi-annual Emiratisation deadlines will continue to be enforced throughout 2024, 2025 and 2026, by which point, the 10% target will be achieved.

Number of skilled workers in companies employing more than 50 workers

Minimum employment rate of Emirati nationals

0 to 50 skilled workers

One citizen

51 to 100 skilled workers

Two citizens

101 to 150 skilled workers

Three citizens

More than 151 skilled workers

One citizen for every 50 skilled workers, or part thereof

Emiratisation Compliance

The comply with the regulations, affected companies must:

  1. be registered with MOHRE

  2. provide a MOHRE work permit for each Emirati employee

  3. process the payroll for each Emirati employee through the Wages Protection System (WPS)

  4. ensure each Emirati employee is registered with one of the approved pension funds for Emirati nationals (General Pension and Social Security Authority (GPSSA) for Dubai and the Northern Emirates, and the Abu Dhabi Retirement Pension & Benefits Fund (ADRPBF) for Abu Dhabi, and the respective contributions are being made, accordingly).

How to employ Emirati nationals

To comply with the UAE’s Emiratisation programme, private sector companies can turn to Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council (Nafis) for help in recruiting Emirati nationals. Nafis helps to create attractive and equal job opportunities for UAE nationals in the private sector.

Companies which register with Nafis can enjoy the following benefits:

  1. Dedicated online jobs portal for companies to post job vacancies specifically targeted to UAE national job seekers

  2. Salary support.

  3. Pension contribution rebates.

  4. Child allowance (AED600 per month, per child, for up to four children, for those with a salary less than AED50,000 per month).

  5. Enhancing their ICV score.

Penalties for non-compliance of Emiratisation rules

There are three types of penalties for violating Emiratisation rules:

Fines for non-compliance of Emiratisation targets

Companies not meeting the Emiratisation rate, or not retaining and maintaining the required number of Emirati national employees in high skilled jobs, is a fine AED6,000 per month (AED72,000 annually) for each Emirati not employed during 2022. This amount increases by AED1,000 each year through to 2026; so for 2023, it is AED7,000 per month (AED84,000 annually). Penalty payments are due in one annual payment at the beginning of the following year.

If a company’s required number of Emirati high skilled employees falls, there is a two-month grace period in which to re-achieve the required number, before the company starts to incur fines.

Penalties for non-payment of Emiratisation fines

Violating companies, failing to pay the penalty payments they accrue, will get a follow up reminder notification and will be blocked from renewing or applying for new work permits. A further series of notifications to recruit skilled Emirati employees and to pay the fines accrued will be sent. Non-compliance for a period of two months will result in a further penalty of work permit issuance being suspended for all additional entities the owner has. Non-compliance for a period of two years will result in the violating company being downgraded to Category 3 in MOHRE; and should it commit any fraud, fines will be imposed as per Cabinet Resolution No. 21 of 2020.

Fines for circumventing Emiratisation targets

As per Cabinet Resolution No. 44 of 2023, regarding the amendment of provisions of the Cabinet Resolution No. 95 of 2022 on violations and administrative penalties relating to the initiatives and programmes of the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council (Nafis), any companies found falsifying, manipulating or modifying their employee numbers, MOHRE employment classification or any other such thing in order to circumvent Emiratisation targets, or to fraudulently obtain government incentives, will be fined AED100,000 in the first instance. If a company is found to circumvent Emiratisation targets a second time, it will be fined AED300,000; and, AED500,000 for a third time and subsequent violations. Any Nafis benefits will also be revoked.


We can show you how to Embrace Emiratisation to Boost your Bottom Line

Based upon our world class assessment-based solutions for selecting, managing and developing your key people, we will provide uncompromising intelligence to increase productivity and get better results, whilst minimizing the risks associated with strategic human capital, such as bad hires.

We help individuals and organisations perform at their maximum best by understanding and applying the unique talents they possess. Providing a deeper level insight than other assessments currently available, our behavioural analyst utilizes valuable critical insight to help individuals and organisations advance to higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and effectiveness.

Hiring the right UAE nationals results in successful Emiratisation

Assessing existing employees and prospective candidates in their first or preferred language ensures accurate results aren’t lost in translation. Assessments are quick, detailed, and available in 27 languages, including Arabic.

Our services reveal the things which aren't covered in CV's. The best Emirati candidate is matched to the job and the organisation, not just on their qualifications and experience, but also on their behaviour, values, practical competencies, emotional intelligence and dimensions of thought. As these are the things which influence workplace dynamics, it's essential they are evaluated for senior positions to ensure a correct cultural and strategic fit. This results in employer/employee satisfaction and a happy and productive working environment. It also reduces longer term recruitment expenses as the employee is more likely to stay in the position longer.

Our portfolio of assessments, workshops and coaching services will help you to achieve success through your employees, eliminate your people problems; and get multi-cultural teams working efficiently together to influence your bottom line. Request a call back with our behavioural analyst to find out how our services can benefit your business.


Gateway Group

Gateway Group helps international companies get registered to do business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We are the authority on business licenses and visas for expats in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Founded, and headed up by, British husband and wife team, Jenny and Nathan Hunt, Gateway operates with it's core values at heart: Honesty. Trust. Integrity. Just like their clients - they've invested their own money into businesses, and want the confidence of having management & financial control, asset protection, trustworthy partners for on-the-ground support, and being legally compliant. They understand the anxiety. And, the good news is they've done all the ground work already - tried and tested it on your behalf, so to speak - so they are best positioned to help you setup your UAE company the right way, and provide complementary business support services.

Founding Partner, Jenny Hunt, has been setting up businesses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for over 10 years and is ranked in FORBES' Top 100 Most Influential Women In The Middle East.

Gateway Group's blog is ranked in Feedspot's '25 Best Abu Dhabi Blogs And Websites' (Top 10 - 07 May 2023).

📱WHATSAPP: +971 58 985 6089

☎️ +971 600 567562

Written by Jenny Hunt

Founder Gateway Group, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, United Arab Emirates

FORBES' Top 100 Most Influential Women In the Middle East


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