United Arab Emirates: Emiratisation: New Recruitment Procedures

Emiratisation quotas in the UAE have been in place since 1998 following the introduction of Ministerial Decision No. 10 of 1998 which set an Emiratisation quota of 4% in the banking sector. This decision was later supplemented by a series of decisions, namely Ministerial Decision No. 41, No. 42 and No. 43 of 2005.

These decisions introduced the following quotas for UAE nationals' employment:

  • 2% in companies employing 50 or more workers
  • 4% in banking sector firms
  • 5% in insurance sector firms

The decisions oblige such companies caught by the above quotas to maintain the same on an annual basis.

The position to date has been that a business not meeting these targets is subject to higher administrative fees from the Labour Department and the Immigration Department. 

What's changed?

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MHRE), around 7 December 2016 introduced a new program, called Tawteen, in an effort to promote Emiratisation in the private sector.

What is Tawteen?

In English, the word 'Tawteen' means Emiratisation.  The MHRE has created a new recruitment portal called Tawteen Gate which allows UAE nationals to register on the portal as a job seeker and be eligible to apply for vacancies in the private sector as they are advertised. 

Who and how does it impact?

Companies falling under the jurisdiction of the MHRE may be required to advertise new positions via Tawteen Gate.  Currently it seems that the MHRE has selected companies with approximately 80+ employees to participate in the new scheme; however this threshold may be reduced to companies with 50 or more employees in the future. 

Companies selected to participate in this scheme are required to formally advertise any new roles through the portal and consider in the first instance UAE nationals who qualify for the role prior to offering the position to non-UAE nationals.

Going forward employers will need to be mindful of this additional step and the potential impact on their recruitment process. Furthermore, the MHRE is likely to closely monitor rejections by companies, the reasons for such rejection and the type of role the rejection pertains to.

Companies that are not currently meeting their Emiratisation quota and have been selected to participate in the Tawteen scheme may find themselves faced with a block on their ability to obtain new visa and work permits from the MHRE, pending satisfactory fulfilment of the Emiratisation requirements.

How does Tawteen work?

A job seeker is required to provide details of qualifications and the role they are seeking via the system which will then be flagged to potential employers when they post a vacancy on the portal which matches the job seeker's specifications. 

Companies are required to initially advertise a role through the portal by providing specific information on the role using the MHRE's standard template before being able to recruit externally.  Once advertised the role will remain open for up to 5 days, at which point any potential candidates will be highlighted to the company through an automated system.  At that stage, the company is obliged to either accept or reject each applicant.  By accepting, the company is inviting the applicant to an interview at which point the applicant has the opportunity to also accept or reject the company.  Any rejections by the company or the candidate will have to be accompanied with a reason by choosing one of the pre-determined reasons from a drop-down menu.

Registration Requirements for UAE nationals?

In order for UAE nationals to qualify, they must demonstrate the following:

  • Be aged between 18 and 60 years old
  • Hold a UAE passport and family book
  • Have a unified number
  • Provide academic certificates
  • Have in place a good conduct certificate
  • Be unable to find a role

Registration is undertaken online through the MHRE website and once the individual is accepted on the scheme, they have to be ready to accept training and interviews, commit to responding to messages and calls and they must update their registration subscription on a quarterly basis.  Job seekers who consistently reject positions, miss interviews, fail assessments or once in work are absent frequently may face restrictions to the scheme.

Emiratisation Partners Club

The MHRE has also introduced as part of the Tawteen scheme an Emiratisation club which provides certain 'red carpet' services exclusively to those companies that exceed the Emiratisation requirements by fulfilling certain criteria.  Red carpet services may include fast track options for certain applications and designated account management systems.  The club is based on a points tier system, with companies able to collect points to qualify for silver, gold or platinum membership. Points are awarded under the following categories:

  • Seniority level - if a UAE national is employed in senior management, the company receives 5 points, 3 points for middle management positions and 1 point for other positions. Additional points may be awarded for certain criteria;
  • Training
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Senior management incentives
  • Work environment schemes

What's next?

We saw a number of new resolutions passed by the MHRE in 2016 cementing the role of UAE nationals in the private sector (see previous article here) and with the introduction of the Tawteen initiative, Emiratisation will undoubtedly continue to be a hot topic for 2017.

Emiratisation: New Recruitment Procedures

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Sara Khoja
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