Taqdeer Award 2022
Winners of Taqdeer Award celebrate during the award ceremony in 2022. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: “They are like my family.”

When was the last time you heard an employee speak with such passion for the company that he or she works for?

For 37-year-old ship supervisor Ariel Casio, this holds true – his employer, Dubai-based TenCate Thiolon Middle East LLC, has supported him through one of the toughest phases of his life.

When he was diagnosed with a huge malignant mass in his lymphatic system in 2020, he had to receive treatment for six months. Throughout this difficult period, his employer’s support did not waiver.

“I chose to go to the Philippines but my company was also willing to cover the medical expenses in the UAE,” he told Gulf News.

Once he had recovered, he had his job waiting for him and till this day, he continues to receive all the support he needs from his employer.

Another Dubai-based worker, whose company helped her not only rekindle her belief in herself but also gain the confidence that she can provide for her family is 41-year-old Assistant Facilities Manager, Eleanor Gonzaga.

“Back in 2019, when I initially joined as a supervisor, I can honestly say I was at one of the lowest points in my life. Doubts about my ability to continue providing for my family were creeping in. But then, Farnek opened a door of opportunity for me. Thanks to the support of my managers, colleagues and all those who stood by me, I have managed to reach my current position,” she told Gulf News.

These are just two examples of companies in the UAE going above and beyond to ensure worker welfare and happiness … companies that have received recognition for their continuous efforts through UAE’s landmark Taqdeer Award.

Transforming lives

From poverty to hope, from struggle to success … people’s lives can forever change for the better, if they just find the right support system around them.

Taqdeer Award recognises this fact and also recognises companies and workers who have played their role towards improving people’s lives.

In January 2016, the Taqdeer Award was launched under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, and in the years since over 300 companies across Dubai have been awarded four and five star ratings, from thousands of companies that have applied for the award. The star rating recognises their exceptional labour welfare programmes and working environments. Employees, too, have received due recognition for having made significant contributions to setting new standards in worker welfare and productivity.

And that is what Taqdeer literally means – the word ‘taqdeer’ in Arabic means appreciation.

Why the award?

The Taqdeer Award was launched to recognise distinguished, labour-intensive companies operating in construction and electromechanical industries, manufacturing, professional services sector and free zones.

The award is given out every two years, after a rigorous cycle of evaluation and assessment is conducted by independent assessors from across the world.

“Taqdeer Award aims to cultivate an optimum working and living environment for workers in Dubai. Undoubtedly, workers play a significant role in our developmental trajectory, because of which Taqdeer vision aimed to prioritise their welfare and wellbeing, particularly the blue-collar workforce,” said Major-General Obaid Muhair bin Suroor, Deputy Director-General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai, and Chairman of the Taqdeer Award.

Taqdeer Award aims to cultivate an optimum working and living environment for workers in Dubai. Undoubtedly, workers play a significant role in our developmental trajectory, because of which Taqdeer vision aimed to prioritise their welfare and wellbeing, particularly the blue-collar workforce

- Major-General Obaid Muhair bin Suroor, Deputy Director-General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai, and Chairman of the Taqdeer Award

“A testament to the UAE’s commitment to fostering good and safe circumstances for all workers, Taqdeer Award adheres to international standards that prioritise a nurturing work environment and progressive labour policies. Moreover, it encourages the growth and development of companies that excel in taking care of their employees, while also incentivising other companies to follow suit,” he added.

What does the star system mean?

Assessed on a five-star rating system, companies have to exhibit that they have in place strong corporate systems and resources, culture and labour relations as well as workforce engagement and happiness resulting in a strong corporate performance. Those that meet or exceed expectations – based on a 1,000-point assessment system – are awarded four and five stars. They also receive feedback from Taqdeer on their assessment.

“These reports have been received positively by the companies, many of whom have acknowledged the substantial benefits derived from the insights provided. Not just a mere evaluative accolade, Taqdeer Award is an investment in the growth and betterment of the corporate landscape in Dubai. Companies might otherwise expend substantial resources to gain such insights, thereby making Taqdeer a critical tool in fostering continuous improvement and excellence in the workplace,” Major-General Obaid Muhair bin Suroor said.

Major General Obaid Muhair bin Surour- Dubai Media office at the 5th Cycle of Taqdeer Award. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Major General Obaid Muhair bin Suroor at the 5th Cycle of Taqdeer Award. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Those that do win not only receive recognition through the award itself, they also enjoy exceptional benefits.

Corporate Gold Card

Companies that are awarded four and five stars are given the corporate gold card, which gives them access to more than 60 incentives from 11 major government agencies.

These incentives include discounts on transaction fees or waiver of fees for certain services provided by these government agencies, free training and access to certain facilities as well as benefits like free health checks for a number of employees.

Taqdeer’s strategic partners for the Gold card

  • Roads and Transport Authority
  • Dubai Electricity and Water Authority
  • Dubai Municipality
  • General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs
  • Dubai Health Authority
  • Dubai Integrated Economic Zones
  • Dubai Customs
  • Dubai Chambers
  • Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services
  • Dubai Civil Defence
  • Dubai Media Inc.
  • Dubai TV

Blue Excellence card - individual reward programme

NAT 221129 TAQDEER AWARDS VSAKLANI-12-1669741065927
Workers cheer for award recipients at the 5th Cycle of Taqdeer Award. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Similarly, employees who have won the Taqdeer Award also receive several additional benefits through the Blue card. The card is provided in appreciation of their dedication to their work and motivating them to continue to achieve excellence in their working and private lives.

The card gives the winner benefits like discounts at more than 130 shops, malls and other commercial establishments as well as the opportunity to obtain scholarship grants, if they want to continue their studies, which will help them in their professional growth and journey.

How are companies assessed?

Participating companies must provide examples of their best employment practices and comprehensive use of global benchmarks including labour policies, facilities and infrastructure, health and safety, labour security, recruitment and wages, justice and transparency, communication and feedback, creativity and innovation, administration, labour perceptions and key performance indicators.

Once the award participants submit their applications, the Taqdeer Award management forms assessment teams and assigns award applicants to each team. These teams then study and assess the submitted applications and supporting documents, discuss the merits of each application and conduct online and site assessments. The scores and final feedback are then submitted to a judging committee comprising of high-ranking Dubai government officials. Once the results are approved, the final results are communicated to the office of Sheikh Hamdan and the winners are announced during an award ceremony.

How can I submit my company’s application?

If you are a company that falls within the targeted sectors of Taqdeer Award, you can also submit your application to be assessed. Not only will you be able to clearly review all the assessment criteria, the Taqdeer Award management also ensures that applicants receive awareness sessions on how they can ensure a successful participation.

Here is the journey of a Taqdeer Award applicant:

  1. Review the Taqdeer Award registration requirements and procedure, and decide on award participation.
  2. Appoint an authorised official representative and submit the initial application form.
  3. Login to the Taqdeer online system to complete the company profile and relevant forms.
  4. Obtain leadership commitment and form a cross-functional award submission team.
  5. Ensure team members complete the award awareness session and study the award framework, criteria and requirements.
  6. Draft, review, and submit Taqdeer Award submission documents and supporting evidence before deadline.
  7. Confirm the site visit date and provide additional supporting evidence or documents if requested.
  8. Plan, prepare and ensure criteria owners actively participate in the site visit.
  9. Receive official invitation, attend the award ceremony, and celebrate.
  10. Receive and review the assessment feedback report to plan and implement enhancement actions.

Changing lives – Wajadtou Nafsi

Through the past five cycles, the award has recognised workers who have turned their lives around along with positively impacting those around them.

Like Casio and Gonzaga, there are multiple workers whose journey of success and personal growth has received special recognition from Taqdeer Award through the ‘Wajadtou Nafsi’ programme. Their stories show how grit and determination can get you far, if you have a supportive corporate structure around you.

Take, for example, Nepali expatriate Arati Rai – a single mother and a school dropout, who landed in Dubai at the age of 19. After eight years of sheer hard luck and receiving the support and training from her employer, she has beaten odds to grow professionally and also provide for her daughter.

Arati Rai
Arati Rai Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

Or Saif Al Theeb, an Emirati and a person of determination – who overcame personal challenges to successfully find his place in the UAE’s workforce, supported by his company’s dedicated programme for people of determination.

You can read all the stories of the Wajadtou Nafsi winners here: