The UAE provides high-quality education and plenty of job opportunities in the knowledge-driven economy of the UAE. It undertakes many efforts to maintain the standard of high-quality education and provide a fair job market. It ensures that citizens and residents are capable of earning a decent livelihood and enjoy quality life in the UAE.
The UAE sets a huge part of its budget to develop the education sector. In the year 2016, the education sector had received the maximum allocation of 21.2 per cent of the federal budget which amounted to AED 10.28 billion.
Ministry of Education (MoE) developed Education 2020 strategy which is a series of ambitious five-year plans designed to develop of a first-rate education system after a complete transformation of the current education system and teaching methods.
The Government laid down several laws that make education compulsory. It is compulsory for Emirati children to start schooling at the age of 6 and remain in school until they have completed Grade 12 or reach the age of 18, whichever occurs first.
In addition, the Cabinet issued directives to prepare an integrated National Literacy Strategy and a framework to produce a reading generation and establish the UAE as the capital of cultural and knowledge content.
Ministry of Education launched initiatives aiming to upgrade the education standards in the UAE according to best international practices. These initiatives include:
Education of the special needs
The UAE Government passed the Federal Law No. 29 of 2006 which protects the rights of people with special needs to education. Students with special needs are entitled to enrol in any school, without exception. Special needs’ students are catered for by Department of Special Education, which was established in 2008 by Ministry of Education. Ministry of Education provides expert teachers who specialise in dealing with children with special needs. MoE offers several training programmes and facilities targeting children with special needs, their parents and kindergarten teachers.
Special needs’ students can apply electronically for:
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As for the jobs sector, Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) ensures increased job opportunities and a fair job market for all.
Emiratisation is implemented in almost all sectors in the UAE. Every company with more than 100 employees is obliged to recruit (and retain on the payroll) the stipulated number of UAE nationals to ensure the minimum percentage of participation of Emiratis in the workforce.
Following a strategic plan to promote Emiratisation, MoHRE decided to localise more jobs in the private sector. Starting from 2017, companies that are registered with Tas’heel's online services and that employ over 1000 workers would be required to hire Emirati citizens for the data entry positions.
MoHRE decided that all construction facilities with a workforce of 500 or more employees must appoint at least one Emirati occupational health and safety officer from 2017.
Companies that employ over 1,000 workers and are registered with Tas’heel’s online services will be required to hire Emiratis for data entry positions from 2017 or they will not be provided additional work permits.
In addition, the ministry provides Absher card which entitles Emiratis working in the private sector for privileges and discounts.
Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 also known as the Labour Law as amended governs the labour rights of employees in the private sector. Here are some of the key provisions of the Labour Law:
There are special provisions for working women. Articles 27 to 34 of the law provide that women:
There are also special provisions for those with special needs, minors and students.
To protect the rights of blue-collar workers, in January 2016, MoHRE approved a third language to be added on the job offer, labour contract and annexure. In addition to Arabic and English, employees can choose from the following 9 languages: Bengali, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Malayalam, Nepalese, Sinhalese, Tamil and Urdu. This applies to workers coming from outside and those residing in the UAE that are seeking a new job, or moving from one company to another.
The Wages Protection System (WPS) is an important step to ensure and protect the rights of workers and to establish trust between organisations and their employees. As per Ministerial Decree No. 739 of 2016 Concerning the Protection of Wages, all establishments registered in the Ministry shall pay the wages of its employees on the due date through the WPS.
Under this system, salaries of employees will be transferred to their accounts in banks or financial institutions, which are authorised by Central Bank of the UAE to provide the service. For any concerns or complaints regarding the salary, employees can contact the MoHRE or lodge a complaint through eNetwasal.
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Ministry of Community Development in particular offers social assistance in many ways to Emiratis who are unable to provide sufficient income for a decent life for themselves and their family members
Other entities offering support in various forms are:
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H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi launched Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development in 2007 to help develop local investment and entrepreneurs, as well as to support and develop small to medium-sized investments in the emirate.
The fund targets capable, young graduates as well as young businessmen and businesswomen with creative business ideas, coupled with strong administrative and managerial skills.
Khalifa Fund provides funding solutions for a variety of feasible projects that serve the interests of the national economy in different sectors and project categories such as farming, fishing, agriculture and even home-based businesses. These programmes include: microfinance, Khutwa, Bedaya, Zeyada, Tasnea, Zaarie and Al Hasela.
In addition, the fund offers a number of outreach programmes which targets certain categories in UAE community. Some of these are:
The fund is restricted to Emiratis between 21 and 60 years old. Applicant may call any of the available branches to register or use the fund’s online downloadable application or collect it from any of the UAE’s branches.
Similarly, Dubai SME, an agency of Department of Economic Development in Dubai offers financing options and many support services including advisory and incubatory services to small and medium enterprises. Dubai SME offers services to startups and established businesses.
For startups, they have the Intelaq programme, under which Emiratis residing in Dubai receive full support through all the phases of setting up a business. Support is in the form of licensing, training courses as well as financial, legal, marketing, technical support and consultancy.
Hamdan Innovator and Incubator (HI2) provides both hardware and software. Software comprises an intellectual infrastructure of 10 years’ experience with 500 companies established by Dubai SME. The low-cost hardware is made of 20,000 sq. feet of space that can accommodate 60+ companies. HI2 provides business development advisory services, a special lab for creating products and inventions prototypes, a multimedia lab, 3D printers and more.
For existing businesses, they offer guidance on type of business, mode and category of business licensing, reducing business start-up costs and accessing reduced rate for business spaces. Dubai SME runs a Government Procurement programme under which All Dubai Government departments allocate at least 5 per cent of their annual purchasing budget to buying from UAE Nationals who own and operate small and medium-size businesses. This helps the small and medium-size businesses to build their capacities to compete with larger companies and sell their products and services to government departments.
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Read more about the sustainable development goal ‘No poverty’.