Emiratisation, Emiratis at work, Emiratis working
The commerce and repair services sector saw a 13 per cent growth and business services saw a 10 per cent growth, said MoHRE. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Business services, construction, and commerce and repair services sectors are among the new frontrunners in Emirati hiring, coming neck-to-neck with the traditional BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) sector.

Top recruitment experts have said that while the business services sector – which includes diverse activities like consulting, legal services, and management – is fast becoming a prominent growth area, the construction sector is catching up fast, especially since its growth aligns with the UAE’s infrastructure development plans and economic diversification vision.

“As a regional trade hub, the commerce and repair services sector shows promising growth, offering many job opportunities for Emiratis. These trends reflect successful Emiratisation policies and effective collaboration between government, private sector, and Emirati workforce skills and interests,” said Alexander Epure, Co-founder and CEO of Qureos, a recruitment consultancy. 


According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), the UAE’s construction sector witnessed a 14 per cent growth in the Emirati workforce this year compared to last year. Similarly, the commerce and repair services sector saw a 13 per cent growth and business services saw a 10 per cent growth. Other popular industries are manufacturing (10 per cent) and financial brokerage (4 per cent).

Forming partnerships with educational institutions facilitates access to internships, cooperative education programs, and graduate job placements, providing a direct pathway for educated Emiratis to enter the workforce.

- Alexander Epure, Co-Founder and CEO of Qureos

By the end of the first half of 2023, around 79,000 Emirati citizens had secured positions within the private sector, marking a 57 per cent increase from figures recorded at the end of 2022.

BFSI sector is still a popular choice

That said, the Emirati community is still keenly inclined towards the BFSI sectors. “Firstly, data from the UAE Central Bank reveals a substantial increase in Emirati participation in the BFSI sector. Specifically, the number of Emiratis working in this sector has seen a 25 per cent surge in 2023 alone,” said Epure.

A talent and leadership development expert at a leading UAE-based bank told Gulf News, “The banking sector has focused on boosting its recruitment of Emirati workers since 2015-16, according to a Central Bank of UAE mandate. Besides recruiting Emiratis, banks are invested in developing Emirati talent. We have a points-based system to measure the success of Emiratisation,” the official said.

In total, banks have achieved 25-30 per cent of their Emiratisation goals. "The target is to recruit at least 5,000 fresh graduates by 2026 in BFSI sectors. We also plan on training the talent pool and preparing them for more senior leadership roles. The sector is committed to the UAE leadership's overall vision of nurturing and growing local talent across banking sector" the official added.

More Emiratis pursue studies in banking
Complementing this trend is the sharp rise in the number of Emirati students pursuing studies in finance and banking as well. “Over the past five years, there has been a striking 75 per cent increase in enrolment in these fields of study. This surge signifies that Emirati students are aligning their educational pursuits with the growing opportunities in the BFSI sector, preparing themselves to play an integral role in the UAE’s financial landscape,” said Epure.

Local talent first

Companies today are making a constant endeavour to seek out local talent first before other options. Rajiv Dalmia, Chairman of Data Direct Group, said his company has set such goals from the early years of inception since 2004. “Localisation is a crucial piece of the puzzle for us to grow, and references are our best sources for talent,” said Dalmia. About 35-40 locals cater to Data Direct Group clients, including key government agencies, he added.

We do not see Emiratisation as a minimum quota to achieve for the sake of representation. It is a crucial piece of the puzzle for us to grow. As a result those employees within our team are familiar with our work culture provide good referrals to future employees. References are our best sources for talent.

- Rajiv Dalmia, Chairman of Data Direct Group

Scouting for talent

Companies in the UAE are employing a range of conventional strategies to meet their Emiratisation targets, including active participation in Emirati-focused job fairs and career expos and forming partnerships with educational institutions.

“Many companies are turning to advanced technologies, such as AI and ML, in the quest for efficiency and precision in hiring,” explained Epure. This provides companies efficiency during candidate sourcing, evaluation and matching requirements.

They also have initiatives like MoHRE’s Absher that aim to create a suitable work environment for Emiratis in the private sector, encouraging the industry to provide more job opportunities for Emiratis and offer them several benefits, such as flexible working hours and training. Additionally, the Tawteen Gate, an online portal devised by MOHRE, assists Emiratis in securing jobs within the private sector.