The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) has called on companies to ensure they maintain the growth they achieved in Emiratisation targets until June 30, 2024. Image Credit: MoHRE | X

I recently read a news item that the UAE has passed the 100,000 benchmark for citizens employed in the private sector in the country. That is certainly an encouraging sign for the leaders who are striving to ensure a better future for their people.

The announcement was heralded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, and Prime Minister of the UAE who stated that more than 70,000 citizens had joined private companies in the past two and a half years alone.

Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, Sheikh Mohammed said, “I reviewed the results of the Emiratisation strategy in the private sector in the UAE. For the first time in the country’s history, the number of Emiratis working in the private sector has exceeded 100,000."

He added that 70,000 of them joined in the last two and a half years following the launch of the Nafiz program by the President of the UAE, with generous support amounting to Dh24 billion, and the introduction of much supportive legislation for Emiratization in the private sector.

He added that, “In the Council of Ministers, we adopted a new policy by giving employment preference in the government sector to those with 3 years of private sector experience, and set out plans to accelerate the country’s Emiratisation drive.”

Saudi initiative

I recall some years back when the Saudis began adopting a national plan along those lines to increase the number of Saudis working in the private sector, as government positions were often favoured for job security. The Minister of Labour at the time made it plain that his ministry was looking at several options for Saudisation.

It was not an overnight solution as tangible steps had to be taken to develop a cadre of nationals qualified to compete in the private business arena.

At the time, there were no notable trade or vocational schools and the Saudi public was also hesitant to employ such individuals for their apparent lack of experience.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Path of self-efficiency

The role of foreign expats was identified to assist in that goal. With the wealth of their expatriate experience, the transference of knowledge from the willing expats to Saudis soon filled the marketplace with a labour pool worthy of employment.

The country started an aggressive drive to set up several institutions of training across the land with such qualified individuals, and voila! Soon a pool of fresh graduates in the different trades with superior talents, and with minimal effort or recruitment was hitting the labour market.

In Saudi Arabia today, the ventures that started years ago have panned out and you would not remiss if you did not notice the presence of Saudis across the board in the private sector.

While initially, the biggest impediment to hiring most Saudis was their lack of experience and discipline, with the proper coaching and mentoring many would be reformed and turned into professionals.

Be they tailors, plumbers, barbers, or electricians, we continue to acknowledge all those efforts into guiding young minds and setting them towards a path of self-efficiency.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator.