UAE puts new limits on unskilled expatriate labour

The UAE government is to implement new limits on the influx of unskilled workers in a move to balance the country’s demographic structure. The country’s Federal Cabinet Sunday said the “uncontrolled import of unskilled labourers should be limited and replaced by recruitment from within the UAE”.

The UAE will instead focus on bringing in highly skilled workers based on “accredited professional and educational certificates”, state news agency WAM said. However, the cabinet’s resolution said the chairman of the Federal Demographic Structure Council may exempt from this resolution domestic helpers or any other categories he specifies.

In a bid to lessen the unskilled workers in the construction sector, the largest employer of this kind of manpower, the Cabinet instructed agencies to define a set of guidelines to improve productivity and limit the number of unskilled workers needed.

The UAE’s handling of its demographic structure is one of government’s top priorities, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler said at the Cabinet meeting. Sheikh Mohammed, also Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, said empowering the UAE citizen and making him the key engine of development was one of its main aims.

He said the government was drawing up policies in a bid to strike a “demographic balance in parallel with the comprehensive development that benefits UAE citizen in all emirates of the country”. He was speaking during a Federal Cabinet meeting which issued a resolution to set specific percentage targets of UAE citizens over the next 20 years, without elaborating on the details. The Cabinet also ordered the setting up of a minimum required qualifications to occupy some jobs.