The UAE sets a huge part of its budget to develop the education sector. In the year 2018, the education sector received AED 10.4 billion from the federal budget.
Ministry of Education (MoE) developed Education 2020 strategy which is a series of ambitious five-year plans designed to develop of a first-rate education system after a complete transformation of the current education system and teaching methods.
The Government laid down several laws that make education compulsory. It is compulsory for Emirati children to start schooling at the age of 6 and remain in school until they have completed Grade 12 or reach the age of 18, whichever occurs first.
In addition, the Cabinet issued directives to prepare an integrated National Literacy Strategy and a framework to produce a reading generation and establish the UAE as the capital of cultural and knowledge content.
Ministry of Education launched initiatives aiming to upgrade the education standards in the UAE according to best international practices. These initiatives include:
- School Leadership Development Project (SLP)
- School Olympic Games Project
- School Health Education Project
- School health screening.
Education of the special needs
The UAE Government passed the Federal Law No. 29 of 2006 which protects the rights of people with special needs to education. Students with special needs are entitled to enrol in any school, without exception. Special needs' students are catered for by Department of Special Education, which was established in 2008 by Ministry of Education. Ministry of Education provides expert teachers who specialise in dealing with children with special needs. MoE offers several training programmes and facilities targeting children with special needs, their parents and kindergarten teachers.
Read more about services and information under education.
As for the jobs sector, Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) ensures increased job opportunities and a fair job market for all.
Emiratisation is implemented in almost all sectors in the UAE. Every company with more than 100 employees is obliged to recruit (and retain on the payroll) the stipulated number of UAE nationals to ensure the minimum percentage of participation of Emiratis in the workforce.
Following a strategic plan to promote Emiratisation, MoHRE decided to localise more jobs in the private sector. Starting from 2017, companies that are registered with Tas'heel's online services and that employ over 1000 workers would be required to hire Emirati citizens for the data entry positions.
MoHRE decided that all construction facilities with a workforce of 500 or more employees must appoint at least one Emirati occupational health and safety officer from 2017.
Companies that employ over 1,000 workers and are registered with Tas'heel's online services will be required to hire Emiratis for data entry positions from 2017 or they will not be provided additional work permits.
In addition, the ministry provides Absher card which entitles Emiratis working in the private sector for privileges and discounts.
MoHRE provides training programmes for Emirati jobseekers. Emirates National Development Programme provides tips for preparing for interviews.
Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 also known as the Labour Law as amended governs the labour rights of employees in the private sector. Here are some of the key provisions of the Labour Law:
- working hours
- official leaves and vacations
- wages Protection System (WPS)
- end of service benefits
- safety at work place
There are special provisions for working women. Articles 27 to 34 of the law provide that women:
- may not be employed between 10 pm and 7 am with exceptions in administrative, technical and health services
- may not be employed in hazardous or strenuous or physically challenging jobs
- are entitled to the same wage that a man would earn for the same job
- are entitled to maternity benefits.
There are also special provisions for those with special needs, minors and students.
To protect the rights of blue-collar workers, in January 2016, MoHRE approved a third language to be added on the job offer, labour contract and annexure. In addition to Arabic and English, employees can choose from the following 9 languages: Bengali, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Malayalam, Nepalese, Sinhalese, Tamil and Urdu. This applies to workers coming from outside and those residing in the UAE that are seeking a new job, or moving from one company to another.
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Reforming the labour market
One important feature of the UAE is the diversity of its population. It hosts millions of workers of more than 200 nationalities from around the globe. The Government is committed to the implementation of comprehensive strategies to protect workers’ rights, particular of those in lower-paid jobs according to the prevailing labour legislation.
Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) developed a strategy to ensure the right of workers to receive their wages, as well as mechanisms to achieve more flexibility and freedom of movement between different jobs and to provide workers with suitable housing and a safe working environment.
It also made measures to protect workers from illegal recruiters, abuse and non-payment of wages. Many of these initiatives are implemented in association with the Governments of labour-supplying countries. The UAE recognised that many of the problems that affect the labour force can only be effectively tackled in their country of origin.
Besides working to enhance the protection of the rights of its immigrant labour force, the UAE also continues to participate actively in the international campaign to eradicate human trafficking. Much of the work in this field is done in collaboration with the United Nations and its specialised agencies.
Read more about UAE efforts to eradicate human trafficking on the page ‘Combatting human trafficking’.
Read more about safety of workers in the UAE.
Laws and regulations to protect labourers
The UAE has put in place laws and regulations which protect the rights of those working in the private sector. The Labour Law handles matters related to working hours, vacation and public holidays, sick leave, employing juveniles, maternity leave, employee records, safety standards, termination of employment and end of service gratuity.
In addition, the UAE has issued three ministerial decrees in an effort to enhance the UAE’s labour market conditions and consolidate the contractual nature of labour relations. These decrees are:
These new rules complement the Labour Law and seek to close certain gaps pertaining to the enforcement and monitoring of labour relations. They provide increased labour mobility in accordance with the provisions of the Labour Law.
The first of the new decrees mandates that the worker be presented with a unified, standard, employment offer that contains clear and enforceable terms and conditions of employment, prior to the worker’s entry in the UAE.
The signed offer is to be filed with Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), then retrieved from MoHRE upon the worker’s arrival in the UAE and signed into a standard legal contract without substituting or altering the terms of the initial offer.
The unified contract must contain a termination clause that sets out conditions for early termination that are mutually agreed upon and asserts that neither party can be made to remain in the employment relation against their individual free will.
The second decree defines how a labour relation may be ended and the third decree seeks to make mobility rules more flexible within the bounds of the Labour Law.
Read more about employment laws and regulations in the UAE private sector.
Social protection systems for labourers
The UAE has established offices in courts to provide legal support to workers in labour disputes and labour care units across the UAE to provide protection for workers and raise awareness of their rights.
If an employee has a complaint or a query, he can call MoHRE's 24-hour toll-free number 80060. In addition, the UAE availed certain systems and services to ensure workers protection, these include:
- Wages Protection System (WPS)
The UAE has put in place the Wages Protection System (WPS) to ensure and protect the rights of workers, and to establish trust between organisations and their employees. Under this system, salaries of employees will be transferred to their accounts in banks or financial institutions, which are authorised by Central Bank of the UAE to provide the service.
As per Ministerial Decree No. 739 of 2016 Concerning the Protection of Wages, all establishments registered in the ministry shall pay the wages of their employees on the due date through the WPS.
MoHRE has launched the eComplaint request service which allows the employee to report online any grievances he has with the employer with complete confidentiality.
The ‘My Salary’ service is one of the most important services launched by MoHRE for the social protection of the workers. It facilitates the workers to report delay in salary payment. This process maintains strict confidentiality to preserve the workers from any adverse actions by their employers.
For any concerns or complaints regarding the salary, employees can contact MoHRE or lodge a complaint through eNetwasal.
Reforming the domestic workers’ sector
To ensure decent working and living conditions for domestic workers, the UAE Cabinet and the Federal National Council approved a new draft Domestic Labour Law that regulates four key areas in the protection of domestic workers:
- rights and privileges
- recruitment agencies.
The new law establishes the principle of informed consent, ensuring that workers are aware of the contract terms, nature of work, the workplace, the remuneration and the period of daily and weekly rest as set out by the executive regulations and before they cross their national borders.
Under the new law, Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation is responsible for domestic workers’ rules and regulations.
Read about the Domestic Labour Law.
H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi launched Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development in 2007 to help develop local investment and entrepreneurs, as well as to support and develop small to medium-sized investments in the emirate.
The fund targets capable, young graduates as well as young businessmen and businesswomen with creative business ideas, coupled with strong administrative and managerial skills.
Khalifa Fund provides funding solutions for a variety of feasible projects that serve the interests of the national economy in different sectors and project categories such as farming, fishing, agriculture and even home-based businesses. These programmes include: microfinance, Khutwa, Bedaya, Zeyada, Tasnea, Zaarie and Al Hasela.
In addition, the fund offers a number of outreach programmes which targets certain categories in UAE community. Some of these are:
- Al Radda programme - this is implemented in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi police. The initiative aims to provide Emirati inmates the opportunity to enter the business sector and reintegrate into society after serving their sentences.
- Ishraq programme - this is implemented in collaboration with the National Rehabilitation Centre. The programme offers the opportunity for recovered drug addicts (citizens) to enter the business sector and reintegrate into society.
- Sougha programme - this aims to preserve the cultural heritage by encouraging entrepreneurship in handicrafts. It targets all artisans and women within the UAE.
- Amal programme - this aims to familiarise Emiratis with special needs with specific business sectors, through identifying the appropriate course-of-action, taking into consideration their disabilities, providing counselling services, as well as financial and non-financial support.
How to apply to Khalifa Fund
The fund is restricted to Emiratis between 21 and 60 years old. Applicant may call any of the available branches to register or read online about the application process (PDF).
Similarly, Dubai SME, an agency of Department of Economic Development in Dubai offers financing options and many support services including advisory and incubatory services to small and medium enterprises. Dubai SME offers services to startups and established businesses.
For startups, they have the Intelaq programme, under which Emiratis residing in Dubai receive full support through all the phases of setting up a business. Support is in the form of licensing, training courses as well as financial, legal, marketing, technical support and consultancy.
Hamdan Innovator and Incubator (HI2) provides both hardware and software. Software comprises an intellectual infrastructure of 10 years' experience with 500 companies established by Dubai SME. The low-cost hardware is made of 20,000 sq. feet of space that can accommodate 60+ companies. HI2 provides business development advisory services, a special lab for creating products and inventions prototypes, a multimedia lab, 3D printers and more.
For existing businesses, they offer guidance on type of business, mode and category of business licensing, reducing business start-up costs and accessing reduced rate for business spaces. Dubai SME runs a Government Procurement programme under which All Dubai Government departments allocate at least 5 per cent of their annual purchasing budget to buying from UAE Nationals who own and operate small and medium-size businesses. This helps the small and medium-size businesses to build their capacities to compete with larger companies and sell their products and services to government departments.
Read more about services and information under business.
Read more about the sustainable development goal 'No poverty'.