Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

The UAE’s economy

The UAE enjoys an overall economic stability, which has led to a large scale of job opportunities for local and foreign workers. In 2014, the UAE-based foreign workers remitted USD 1928 billion to their home countries. The money directly benefits some of the world’s poorest communities, thus raising the standards of living of the people in the recipient countries.


The UAE's gross domestic product at current prices is AED 1.46 trillion as of 2014, with a contribution of 38 per cent by the processing industries.


Vision 2021  focuses on the UAE becoming the economic, touristic and commercial capital for more than two billion people by transitioning to a knowledge-based economy that promote innovation, research and development.


In November 2013, the United Arab Emirates was nominated to host the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. The Expo is estimated to create 275,000 jobs and cater various sectors including tourism, aviation and infrastructure.


The ‘Green Growth Strategy’ launched in 2012, seeks to enhance the country’s competitiveness and the sustainability of its development. The strategy presented six focus areas:

  • Green Energy
  • Green Investment
  • Green City
  • Climate Change
  • Green Life
  • Green Technologies.


In 2015, the UAE government injected AED300 billion to foster a knowledge economy, driven by innovation to prepare the UAE for a world after oil.


In addition, the UAE has developed several strategies to diversify its national income based on a sustainable and knowledge-based economy including Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 and Dubai Plan 2021 .


Read about the UAE’s strategies and plans.


Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, known before as Ministry of Labour is responsible for overseeing the employer-employee relations and maintaining labour rights for the private sector.


In order to ensure a decent work and economic growth, the UAE made enormous efforts including laws, policies and awareness campaigns to enhance work condition for employees of the public sector, private sector and free zones. Some of these efforts are:


Adoption of Emiratisation programmes

The UAE Government launched the Emiratisation campaign which mandates the inclusion of Emiratis in the job sector, particularly in the private sector.


Read about Emiratisation in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.


Standardising labour contracts

The UAE has introduced a new standard employment contract and requested the employers to abide by fully. This contract is mandatory to finalise the employment procedures and it applies to workers coming from outside and those residing in the UAE, as well.


Upon selecting a candidate to fill a job vacant, an employment offer will be issued by the employer. The offer must conform to the standard employment contract and it must duly signed by both the employer and employee.  


The offer letter is registered with Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and at that point, an employer can apply for an employment visa for the employee.  


The ministry further stipulates that no new clauses may be added to the standard employment contract unless they:

  • are compliant with the ministry's legal requirements
  • do not conflict with other clauses of the standard employment contract
  • the employer gains the approval of the ministry.


The offer is available in Arabic and English, plus a third language of the labourer’s choice from the following:

  • Bengali
  • Chinese
  • Dari
  • Hindi
  • Malayalam
  • Nepalese
  • Sinhalese
  • Tamil
  • Urdu.


Related links


Free labour movement

Further, the UAE Government launched new laws that enable workers to move freely between employers. It also e freely between employers, aareness campaginy the husbandcan file y in addition to custody expenses of the children.reevaluated every aspect of working in the country from recruitment to housing. Reforms are made to ensure that all workers are treated respectfully and able to report instances of maltreatment easily.


You can check the links below for reforms and eServices related to labour and work conditions:


Free labour movement

At the federal level, Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) is in charge of managing human resources for ministries and federal authorities which are subject to the Decree law.


Public sector employees are governed by the Federal Decree Law No. 11 for the year 2008, as amended by the Federal Decree Law No. 9 for the year 2011 and Federal Decree Law No.17 for the year 2016. These laws apply to the civil servants who are earning their salaries from the federal budget, as well as the civil employees working at federal authorities and corporations.


Public sector employees are also governed by the Cabinet Decision No. 13 for the year 2012 regarding Executive Rules for Federal Decree Law No. 11 for the year 2008. The decision includes controls and details concerning rights and duties of the employees, incentives, leaves and other matters related to human resources working in the federal government authorities.


Ministries and federal authorities whose laws provide that they will have exclusive job regulations are exempted from the above Decree within the limits of its stipulations.


Further, Council of Ministers’ Resolution No. 15 of 2013 on the Human Resources’ Regulation for the Independent Federal Entities  applies to the employees working at independent federal entities listed within.


Laws for employees of private sector

Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 also known as the Labour Law as amended governs the labour rights of employees in the private sector.


As amended by Federal Law No. 24 of 1981 and Federal Law No. 12 of 1986, the provisions listed in the law do not apply to the following categories:

  • employees and workers of the federal government and the local governmental departments 
  • employees and workers in public entities and institutions, whether federal or local, and employees and workers appointed for governmental, federal and local projects
  • members of armed forces, police and security
  • domestic servants in private households and similar occupations
  • workers in farms or pastures with the exception of persons working in agricultural institutions processing the products thereof or the persons permanently operating or repairing mechanical machines required for agriculture.


Protecting labour rights

Protecting labour is a national priority. The UAE has ratified major International Labour Organization’s conventions related to the rights of workers and has adopted numerous laws to protect workers' rights especially in the areas of recruitment, pay, housing and health.


Enforcement of laws for workers have been intensified and substantial penalties have been imposed for violations relating to working conditions and workers' rights. 


New labour reforms that took effect in the UAE on 1 January 2016 place tremendous responsibility on the employers for protecting the workers. The new reforms focus on improving transparency of job terms and employment contracts, spell out how contracts can be terminated and make it easier for workers to switch employers. 


Under the new policies, prospective workers will be asked to sign a standard employment offer in their home country that will in turn be filed with MoHRE before a work permit is issued. 


That agreement will then be registered as a legal contract once the worker arrives in the country and no changes will be allowed unless they extend additional benefits to which the worker agrees. Either side will be able to terminate the contract, after which the worker will be free to switch to a new employer.


Sourced from the website of the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.


Workers’ awareness campaigns

MoHRE launches many awareness campaigns to educate labourers about their rights. One of these campaigns was initiated under the slogan ‘Know your rights’. The campaign communicated the following messages:

  • You are entitled to keep possession of all your personal identification documents once your residency permit is issued
  • If you are asked to sign a contract with terms and conditions which are different from MoHRE’s standard contracts, report immediately to the nearest labour office even if you are advised that the changes are of advantage to you, as contract substitution is illegal
  • If your employer fails to present you with a contract or provide you with work, MoHRE will assist you in finding alternative employment
  • If your employer fails to present you with a work contract within one week of your arrival, report to the nearest labour office
  • To avoid violating the law, do not accept other employment without first reporting to the Labour Office at MoHRE
  • UAE law requires your employer to pay the costs of the issuance of an entry visa and travel to the UAE, and the costs of post arrival processing requirements such as medical tests in the UAE and the issuance of your Residency Permit
  • Your contract must match your job offer and you should keep a copy of your signed contract
  • You have the right to leave your job at any time, but be aware of your contractual obligations
  • The termination of your contract can be ended by the employer or the employee and it can be by mutual consent
  • It is important for employees to follow the required legal steps for terminating a contract as the Labour Office can help recover any dues that are owed to the employee and arrange placement in alternative employment if eligible to obtain a new work permit


Source: A Warm Emirati Welcome to All Arriving Guest Workers.


Guiding newly arrived workers

UAE government issued guides to newly-arrived labourers informing them about their employment rights. The guides are available in many languages including Arabic, English, Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam.


You can refer to a copy of the guide in English through MoHRE website:


Handling labour disputes

If an employee has a complaint or a query, he can call MoHRE’s 24-hour at toll-free number 800665.


The UAE has established offices in courts to provide legal support to workers in labour disputes. Labour care units have been established across the UAE to provide protection for workers and raise awareness of their rights.

For more information and related eServices, check the following links on labour disputes in the private sector:


Protection for domestic workers

The UAE has implemented a number of measures to provide protection and assistance specifically to domestic workers. Some of the measures include:

  • a standard form of contract that specifies the rights and obligations of each party
  • flexibility for domestic workers to change employers
  • awareness-raising initiatives to inform domestic workers of their rights.


In addition, the employer bears all expenses related to sourcing domestic workers, travel costs to the UAE, their accommodation, meals and health insurance.


Workers can make complaints through a toll-free hotline 800-5005. Ministry of Interior has established eight centres to address complaints from domestic workers and provides 24-hour support and assistance. 


Protection, care and shelter are provided for domestic workers who are victims of violence or abuse by Ministry of Interior's social support centres.


For more information on UAE efforts to protect the rights of domestic workers, you can check the following news reports:


Read more about the sustainable development goal ‘Decent work and economic growth’.


Online services for migrant labours


Useful links from government and news reports resources:

Achievement Progress


Growth rate of real GDP per employed person (2015)