Emiratisation Research by Young Emiratis

This blog post provides a snap shot of a Senior Project completed by four recent graduates of Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. They saw the issue of mandating a percentage of Emirati employees in public and private companies operating in the UAE as a financial, social and cultural issue. Their interpretation of the problem, where they looked in the literature for guidance and their proposed solutions follow.

Emiratisation: Lessons Learned from Affirmative Action

Ali Ahmed Al Dhaheri
Ali Hussain Al Khoori
Mohammed Humaid Al Dhaheri
Mohammed Saif Al Zaabi


Official Emiratisation began in 2000 to ensure full employment of UAE Nationals and also to decrease dependency on the expatriate population which represents over 85% of the working population. There is still a need to invest in the training and skills development of Emiratis to ensure that those hired are not just to fill quotas, but to contribute to the success of the organisation and their future careers.

Looking to the Literature:

Affirmative action research is established and has been used to create government and organisational policies in much of the Western world. While affirmative action aims to right unjust hiring practices for "under privileged" populations there are similarities to be drawn with the struggles of Emiratisation as they are both examples of "positive discrimination".

The issue of underemployment of Nationals in the Arabian Gulf Region has been met with similar programs in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman. The greatest successes have come with a focus on providing training and high level education and professional development to Locals.


Recent graduates want to work for government organisations - for job security, better pay, better working conditions and a greater sense of contributing to the development of the Nation. Private companies are seen as "not welcoming" to Locals and "only" seem to hire for positions in public relations and HR. 

An interview with an architect of a successful Emiratisation program with a private company in the banking sector suggests that hiring recent graduates in a group, training them together and providing career development opportunities and the possibilities of career and professional advancement seems to "work".

Some recommendations:

The students wrote that the dignity of all work (not just white collar jobs) well done needs to be recognized by Emirates. (Not everyone is qualified to have a desk job with a corner office) Moreover, self-dependency will only come through hard work on the part of Emiratis and an investment in education and skills training by companies and organisations operating in the UAE.

Their research poster  at the National Day Celebrations

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