Barriers to Emiratization: the role of policy design and institutional environment in determining the effectiveness of Emiratization

Mohammed A. Al-Waqfi, Ingo Forstenlechner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    65 Citations (Scopus)


    The severe shortage in local workforce, in the face of an escalating demand for workers over the past several decades, induced the United Arab Emirates to adopt a liberal immigration policy which allowed an influx of large numbers of foreign workers into the country. However, the continued reliance on foreign workers created a distortion and segmentation of the labour market whereby the national workers became concentrated in the public sector, while close to 99% of the jobs in the private sector is staffed by expatriate workers. An unemployment problem among nationals started to appear despite the workforce Emiratization policy which has been implemented since the late 1990s. The current study assesses the effectiveness of the Emiratization policy as practised over the past two decades along with major challenges encountered. Data for the study were collected through interviews with a sample of 32 senior managers and human resource professionals from various sectors of the economy. Findings of the study reveal several weaknesses of the Emiratization programme over the past two decades related to the policy tools and regulations, as well as implementation mechanisms adopted. Based on assessment of weaknesses and challenges faced, recommendations are provided with regard to the needed changes in regulations, policy tools and mechanisms, and parameters of compliance to ensure effective implementation of an Emiratization programme that can significantly contribute to alleviating the unemployment problem among citizens and ensuring their effective integration into the labour market in both the public and private sectors.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-189
    Number of pages23
    JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


    • Emiratization
    • Gulf Cooperation Council
    • United Arab Emirates
    • employment policy
    • localization
    • workforce nationalization

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Strategy and Management
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
    • Management of Technology and Innovation


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