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Title: Emiratisation and Its Effects on Human Resource Management

Emiratisation and Its Effects on Human Resource Management

Emiratisation is a policy developed and implemented by the government of the United Arab Emirates with the meaningful objective of securing employment of its citizens in both public and private sectors of the economy. This move by the United Arab Emirates was sparked by the fact that the nationals form a very minute proportion of the country’s workforce. There were strict cultural observances that barred intermingling of sexes hence meant segregation from the non-nationals that had been absorbed in the workforce (Taryam, 1987). The nationals of the United Arab Emirates form nine percent of the employees in the public sector and one percent in the private sector. The fact that the employers stereotype the nationals as unproductive and unmotivated, led to to increased levels of unemployment among the nationals and thus the government had to intervene in favour of the poor Emiratis. The situation is so as a result of the move by the government in 1973 to maintain the open-door policy of allowing non-national labour into the country to provided the much needed manpower at the time. This was as a result of the lack of skilled manpower among the Emiratis who were traditionally pastoralists. Moreover, the region has a very small population given the harsh climatic conditions that are prevalent in desert areas. The discovery of oil paved way for so much development that could not be sustained by the nationals alone (Girgis, 2002). The development of public infrastructure also attracted immense foreign investment that was necessary to provide service in the growing economy. Cultural forces also contributed a lot to United Arab Emirates nationals’ reluctance to participate in labour provision.

Policies on Implementation of Emiratisation

The United Arab Emirates government has therefore initiated various policies in order to ensure the success of Emiratisation. One of such policies is the training of of the nationals in order for them to take over employment opportunities in both public and private sector. This was facilitated by the institution of the National Human Resource Development Employment Authority. The authority ensures that the nationals are trained on various professional and technical skills in order to make the legible for employment in both sectors of the economy (Beardwell, 1998). The government consequently increased it budget allocation on free education in order to increase the number of educated citizens. Moreover, there are programs that have seen the Emiratis being natured in organisations in for of on the job training in order to be absorbed upon attainment of the required qualifications. The government has also emphasised on patriotism in the educational institutions in order to attract a substantial proportion of the Emirati population in the schools and colleges. The government has further ensured that equal opportunities for education is enhanced and the subsequent empowerment of the national human resources to ensure that the nationals receive practical work experience to make them eligible to take up job opportunities in the economy. The government has also pushed for establishment of Emiratisation database to enable effective and close monitoring of Emiratisation rates in the private sector. This therefore helps to reduce the unemployment rates among the nationals. The policy has succeeded as a significant proportion of the Emiratis have been absorbed in the workforce as a result of the government’s commitment in monitoring the implementation of the Emiratisation program.

Another effective policy employed by the government to ensure success of Emiratisation, is the setting up of the minimum proportion of Emiratis that any private organization should maintain in its workforce. The ideal proportion required by the government is 20% of the entire workforce maintained by any private organization. The government provides incentive to those organisations that have the desired proportion of Emirati employees in its workforce. On the other hand organizations that fail to attain the required minimum are fined. Organisations costs increased with increase in the proportion of expatriates to nationals. This quota system however was not successful given the fact that nationals demanded far much higher wages than the expatriates hence making the policy ineffective (Toledo, 2006). Furthermore, the available nationals who are qualified are insufficient to adequately fill the positions that the government direct to be reserved hence making the policy vague.

Unification of the public and private sector is another policy put forward by the United Arab Emirates government in favour of Emiratisation. This was aimed to facilitate close monitoring of the rate of implementation of the Emiratisation program. The policy was considered because the private sector has the greatest capacity in terms of employment hence need to integrate the two so as facilitate effective implementation of government policies and taxation (Al Qudsi, 2006). It is in this light that the government strived to collaborate with the private sector. The policy however is ineffective since the private sector is diversified and the nationals are incompetent in this sector because they are unable to fluently communicate in English. This therefore clearly underscores the great asymmetry between the public and the private sector.

Emiratisation Policies Impact on Workforce Planning

Emiratisation has however, given rise to various challenges as far as human resource management is concerned. The nationals’ culture and attitude towards work is always inappropriate as they do not attach prestige to any given position in the organisation hence making motivation difficult (Al Ali 2008). The government’s incessant orders requiring absorption to the human resource pool however, do not go down well with private employers. The policy of employment quota system also has grave implications on the performance of the organisation and the quality of labour maintained. This is because the population of the nationals is far much lower than that of expatriates hence making the number of the nationals available for recruitment insufficient to fill the positions that the government directs the private firms to reserve for them. Worse still, the nationals require far much more wages compared to expatriates hence making human resource budgetary allocation to rise hence reducing profits. The nationals are traditionally disinterested in work and most often they are unprofessional making them incompetent to carry out duties effectively in the private firms which need a high degree of professionalism. Furthermore, the national are not fluent in English, a language that is crucial in global transactions of which the United Arab Emirates is a key player as it hosts a significant number of multinational enterprises. The attitude held by the nationals towards the private sector is negative as they view private employers as exploitative and therefore prefer public organisations. This therefore contributes to high labour turnover hence making human resource planning difficult and inconsistent. This therefore indicates that the nationals lack stability and therefore its labour supply is unreliable and relatively expensive at the same.

A Case of Petroleum Company in U.A.E

A case of a petroleum company in the United Arab Emirates is presented with regards to implementation of the Emiratisation policy. The petroleum company therefore had to develop recruitment, education, and training and reward designs in order to facilitate Emiratisation in it human resource management system. The organisation however recruits and develops the nationals for the purposes of adequately complying with the laws of the land. The petroleum company has to ensure that the workforce comprises of at least 20% of the nationals. Some o the nationals work as interns whereby they being nurtured prior to taking up positions in the firm.

Human Resource Planning and Development Methods

The firm has various methods of planning and developing human resource. The firm conducts human resource forecast by establishing the required workforce at any particular time. What follows is the actual assessment of the current labour supply in order to come up with the appropriate decision regarding whether there exists a shortage or surplus in the supply of labour. This will enable the firm to effectively plan for the methods of acquiring additional manpower to meet both short and long term objectives of the firm. Another method of human resource development employed by the firm is on the job training which is aimed at equipping the employees on the new skill and knowledge requirements that pertains a particular job (Bains, 2009). This ensures that the employees are not rendered redundant in an ever-changing workplace. Promotion is also an important aspect in human resource planning whereby employees are motivated by appreciating and rewarding efforts in order to make them develop the right attitude towards providing quality services to the organisation. Promotions encourage employees to have confidence in management and also provide the best way of initiating succession plans in the organisation.

Evaluation and Monitoring

The petroleum company could monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the human resource department and the process of Emiratisation in a number of ways. One of the ways could be analysing the length of time served by the nationals in the company in order to establish whether indeed the development programs dedicated to the particulars nationals are effective and if not, reviews can be made. Organisations can make decisive conclusions with regards to the length of time the nationals spend serving the organisation, which is a good indicator. However, short periods of service indicate high levels of job dissatisfaction, which hampers the success of the Emiratisation process (Beardwell and Holden, 1997). Another way could be the review of the promotional history of the United Arab Emirates nationals in the workforce. Satisfactory number of promotions would indicate success of Emiratisation process in the organisation. Proper development of human resource is therefore necessary to nurture the skills and knowledge of employees particularly the nationals. The quality and the number of on the job trainings involving the Emiratis would also be a good indicator of the effectiveness of the human resource department in the overall implementation of the Emiratisation process.


Various strategies are necessary to ensure that the human resource department succeeds in the long run as it implements Emiratisation process. The issue of stereotyping the nationals as being lazy and lack professionalism should be a thing of the past in order to facilitate proper plan development towards empowering Emiratis in the workforce. This lack of confidence has made the implementation of the Emiratisation difficult due to the negative attitude harboured towards the natives’ capabilities. The overhaul of the organisation’s attitude therefore towards the nationals will go a long way in ensuring that they are empowered in a way they will be encouraged and motivated towards delivering quality labour. Another strategy would be the marshalling the top management to support Emiratisation. There has been a predominant practice whereby the top management pledges support for Emiratisation but fails to implement the recommendations therewith. Implementation of the above recommendations will result to significant success in the implementation of Emiratisation.


Amuzegar, J. (1999), Managing the Oil Wealth: OPEC’s Windfalls & Pitfalls, London : I.B Tauris

Bains, E. (2009), ‘Raising Standards and Aspirations,’ Middle East Economic Digest, 53, 51, 38 – 41.

Baud, I., and Mahgoub, H. (2001), Increasing National Female Participation in the Labour Force, Dubai: Tanmia.

Al Ali, J. (2008), ‘Emiratisation: Drawing UAE Nationals into their Surging Economy,’

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 28, 9/10, 365– 379

Beardwell, I. and Holden, L. (1997) Human Resource Management: A Contemporary

Perspective, London: Pitman.

Harvey, D. and Brown, D.R. (2001), An Experiential Approach to Organization Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.