For the first time since the foundation of the UAE in 1971, more than 100,000 nationals are employed in the private sector, with the Nafis program directly responsible for 70,000 private sector hires in the past 30 months, Khaleej Times reports.

This program offers financial incentives to encourage the private sector to provide employment opportunities for Emiratis aged 18 and over. It aims to “…[increase] the competitiveness of Emirati human resources, empowering them to occupy jobs in the United Arab Emirates’ private sector …”

Launched in September 2021, the Nafis program requires private companies with at least 50 employees to increase the proportion of their workforce that is Emirati by 1% every six months to reach a minimum of 10% by 2026.

To date, 1,300 companies have been fined between AED20,000 ($5,446 U.S.) and AED100,000 for failing to meet these targets.

According to Rabea Ataya, founder and CEO of job board Bayt.com, “The Emiratisation movement is reshaping the market by encouraging the hiring of Emirati nationals in the private sector. Most job openings are for executive and entry-level positions, with an emerging focus on higher-level opportunities for UAE nationals. Employers highly seek roles requiring professional skills, cultural understanding and bilingualism in Arabic and English.”

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