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  • Writer's pictureFahad Khalaf

10 Steps To Achieve Emiratisation?

By the end of this blog, you will great idea how Emiratisation strategy is all about and I will more than happy to answer your questions. In this blog, I will not be taking as an article format more or less like Q&A session. In this way, you will be able to know what are the common questions, answers and challenges that companies face during the implementation process. 

Before moving into how to achieve Emiratisation, I refer to my intensive experience and involvements background with the Emiratisation strategy of the UAE government. And Here are the questions that will be answered to have great understand on how to achieve Emiratisation: 

Q1. What is Emiratisation? Q2. Why Emiratisation is so important? Q3. Levels of Emiratisation?  Q4. What are the challenges that Emiratisation strategy is facing? Q5. How to overcome the challenges and achieve your Emiratisation strategy? 

Q1. What is Emiratisation? Emiratisation is a strategy of the UAE government to employ Emiratis in the public & private sector, be productive towards the country economic growth. Emiratisation or other words are being used is Nationalization. And, Emiratisation is by using the "S" letter not "Z" as being noticed by some individuals, companies and statements. Emiratisation is not an initiative as it been discussed, it crossed the initiative aspects and moved towards to government requirements. Initiative is something preferred to do and if it is not been done, no obligations or fines. However, when it comes to strategy and government requirements based on certain criteria's; then there will be obligations and fines if not been achieved. Emiratisation is not only about recruitment Emiratis (national talents) but retaining and sustain them. It is full circle of employee management. We will be covering this aspect in detail in the 3rd question. 

Q2. Why Emiratisation is so important? Emiratisation, Nationalization or any citizen hiring ratio is required in any country to avoid the raise of jobless percentage in the country. When the ratio of jobless individuals is high, ratio of crimes is expected to raise up and that could consider as National Safety issues. On other hand, the expenses to maintain standard living of the citizen at set standard by the government will be too costly were the amount could be invested into infrastructure and projects that will move the country to the next level.  In addition, there are a lot of talents among the Emiratis that could be utilize and contribute effectively towards the country development strategies. As we started to notice, there are a lot of Emiratis managing multi-million and billion projects entities that contribute positively into the UAE economy. And more talents and contributions from Emiratis is expected once they are being given an opportunity. 

Q3. Levels of Emiratisation?  I know many people especially the ones whom are working in Emiratisation might not like this part but it the reality. Not everyone that is working in Emirtisation is an Emiratisation expert. It is a full cycle of human resource function for specific segment and that is UAE Nationals. Emiratisation is not recruiting Emiratis only, its full HR function starts from Talent Acquisition end to Employee Relations. Here are the levels: 

Level (1): Representation  Level (2): Talent Acquisition  Level (3): Employee Relations  Level (4): Full HR Cycle 

What determine the level of Emiratisation in any organization is the level of empowerment that the Manager/Head of Emiratisation have. Majority of people are between level 1 to level 3 and very of the few are at the level 4. That is due to several reasons which we will talk about in some other blogs/articles. Unfortunately, people claim that they are an Emiratisation specialist or expert and when you start digging into what they do, you will realize that they are into recruiting or headhunting candidates of the UAE National. This considers as recruitment for the Emiratis segment as it is similar to other recruiters that are specialized into specific industries. Sorry guy, but this is the reality.

Q4. What are the challenges that Emiratisation strategy is facing? There many challenges that is surround any company whenever they are implementing the Emiratisation strategy. Emiratisation or Nationalization in the Gulf region (GCC) is not similar to any other nationalization strategy countries. The UAE is combined culture between the region of Islam and their traditional believes that has shaped big part of its culture. Therefore, certain jobs and work nature are not either restricted or prohibited especially the once that create conflicted with family values, individuals' principles and region guidelines. 

There are many reasons why Emirati failed to join the private sector in particular or employers hiring Emiratis, however the main reason is the big gap between the education outcomes and the corporate life requirements. The education system in the UAE is mainly based on Arabic language and almost all subjects are in Arabic language except 1 or 2 English language subjects for the high school graduates. Therefore, English language is poor or not within the corporate requirements. For higher education graduates such as: colleagues, university and business school; English language might be within the required level however soft skills, other related and minor technical skills might not be there. 

Also, one of the main reasons is the leadership style and culture conflicts while working with Emiratis. As we mentioned that the UAE society especially Emiratis are conservative culture, certain behaviors, practices and communication methods will create conflicts between management and the Emiratis. That might lead to certain un-pleasant situations and to legal issues. Therefore, you are required to invest in training and developing Emiratis by empowering them skills and capabilities. 

Statistics:  As per the general statistics by Ministry Human Resources and Emiratisation (previously named by Ministry of Labor UAE), there over 2.2 million jobs that can be occupied by Emiratis without getting any clashes with the culture and region. And the un-official number of job seekers are around 50,000 Emiratis. If all job seekers got employed, still there will be more than 2.1 million jobs. As the world is getting more advanced and more job is being created, more people are getting better opportunities due to the expansion of business requirements. Therefore, Emiratisation is not a threat to anyone or taking anyone's place. It is a strategy of involving the national citizen into the workforce for better economy and lifestyle. This an investment towards your personal achievements and experience, advanced economy, safer country and company success stories. 

5. How to overcome the challenges and achieve your Emiratisation strategy? 

Check if your company is any of the categories required to implement Emiratisation ratio either from industry element, size of the company or sector. For example: as per the MOHRE, any organization with 100 employees and more; it is must to have 2 PRO Emiratis. If an organization that falls within this category don't meet the requirement, some restrictions will be applicable such as: no trade license renewal, issuing new visas for expats and employment will be on hold; and financial fines might be issued.

Another examples: Banking industry as required to achieve Emiratisation ratio by using point system regardless of their size, ownership status and profit. Previously, banking industry was required to achieve 40% Emiratisation from total number of their employees. But now, it changed to point system and we can discussed in another blog if needed. Get the buy-in from your management towards implementing an effective and structured Emiratisation strategy. I have noticed during my experience and working with a lot of clients that some got excited in implementing the Emiratisation however, they got stuck in the middle of the road either not having enough budgets, not yet proper involvement from stakeholders and management, no plans and structures or failed in Employee Branding. Set your budgets and other financial aspects through your "compoben" function so you don't get in a situation where you are offering packages less than that the market.

That might keep in your in un-pleased and embarrassed situations. Source the right channels for each employment level and seniority. There are multiple channels to source and attract Emiratis such as: social media platforms, school, universities, career fairs and recruitment days by the government. This point seems doable, but many recruiters fails to attract or source Emiratis for certain roles because they trying to source right candidates from the wrong channel. What do I mean by that is? LinkedIn is one of the most powerful platform and there are thousands of Emiratis profiles that can be targeted for any role. However, if you are looking to source Emirati candidates for any junior or entry level roles; the ratio of failing is high as LinkedIn is not popular channel for job seekers and candidates at this level.

Therefore, you need to source the right candidates from the right channels. Word of Mouth is one of the most powerful strategy to achieve your objectives. UAE is very family oriented and connective society that helps the "word of mouth" approach works so effective in achieving your requirements. By participating in public events such as: career fairs, open days, corporate awareness days and others; will help you the Emiratis knows about your opportunities by them coming to you, less spending on recruitment and arrangements fees. Have proper and structured plans or programs. Many organization don't have proper plans or program to support the sustainability of their Emiratisation strategy. Emiratisation is not only recruiting Emiratis, it's about sustaining them for long terms and contribute positively towards the organization's success. If you don't have proper Emiratisation structure or plan, you likely to be one of the organizations will high turnover ratio and un-pleasant reputation among the UAE society.  

Train line managers and direct supervisors on however to team Emiratis at workforce to avoid culture conflicts. I personal conducted several Culture Awareness sessions to line managers that supported them in overcoming the challenges they faced while interacting with Emiratis. Hire dedicated Emiratisation Manager/Head or HRBP - Emiratisation whom will be overseeing the Emiratisation drive at the higher level. Hiring someone at this position could be an Emiratis or anyone with experience on managing Emiratisation. I will not be covering the role of the Emiratisation Manager/Head or any role that involves in managing and overseeing Emiratisation at this moment. I will cover it in different blog. Continues improvement and development. Emiratisation is not different from any other talent management drives. As you require to improve and development certain aspects of your people management, you will require to improve and develop Emiratisation all time. What I meant by that is: understanding the Emiratis requirements and challenges, you will need to empower them with certain tools to keep them within your business speed. If they require any advancements in training either technical or soft skills, profession certifications or work-life balance.

To achieve this aspect, you will need to be expert in Employee Engagement/Experience, good Leadership skills not management style and Culture understanding. Giving back to society (CSR). Emiratisation is one of the key success factors to any organization especially when they fall under the "MUST" categories by MOHRE. By achieving effective Emiratisation, you will be receiving more returns not only from employees' performance and society reputation, you will be one of the top supporters and contributors towards the success of the Emiratisation strategy of the UAE government. What does that mean? It means that you will get recognized as "Employer of Choice", get rewarded with government and other Business Excellency Awards; and will have a lot of flexibility from the government either reduction in fees, extra number of issued visas and much more... More this blog (article) will be help you in re-considering your thoughts and methodologies while implementing Emiratisation that will support your strategy. What I have mentioned are key factors in having an effective Emiratisation drive and will maximize your organizational performance. 

If you are interested to read the details blog/article of Emiratisation, visit the below link.

For further details or collaboration; I will be more than happy to extend my support to your respectful organization. Let's Talk About Your Future


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