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Surveying the progress of construction work / Photo HH

The UAE government works through various agencies to train the local Emirati labour force in certain jobs and encourage educated and qualified citizens to enter the work force. In addition to several ministries that are involved in Emiratization, one agency, The National Human Resources and Development Authority (Tanmia) has as its mission the full employment of national human resources, reducing the foreign component of the UAE labour force and increasing the supply of qualified and skilled national labour. Tanmia is also supposed to support small-investment enterprises through the establishment of self-employment projects for nationals, develop programmes for training and qualifying national jobseekers, provide career counselling and guidance to the national manpower, and follow up and evaluate employment of nationals in the public and private sectors, among other ambitious goals.

The reality, however, is that the expatriate labour force represents about 85 percent of the UAE’s work force. These are all temporary guest workers, who send much of their earnings home (as much as USD 22 billion in 2006) and generally return to their countries at the end of their work contracts. This situation will continue, not only because of the chronic need for labour but also because the UAE is still a favourite destination for job seekers from elsewhere in the Gulf region, even after the 2008 financial crisis.

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