Nafis Initiative: 100,000 Emiratis in Private Sector


Tim Patridge

June 10, 2024 · 18 min read

In May 2024, something incredible happened in the UAE! 

For the first time in history, over 100,000 citizens are now working in the private sector. On Sunday, May 26, we discovered that 70,000 Emiratis secured jobs in private companies in just two and a half years. This incredible achievement is thanks to the impactful Nafis employment program launched by President Sheikh Mohamed in September 2021.

At TalentPoint, we've dug deep to bring you an in-depth look at the Nafis program. As the #1 Emirati recruitment platform, we believe in Nafis's vision to place UAE citizens in diverse private sector roles.

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive into the exciting world of Nafis and see how it’s transforming careers and opportunities!

What is the Nafis Program in UAE: Know Real Meaning

The Nafis program is an initiative by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government. It aims to enhance job opportunities for Emirati citizens in the private sector. 

Launched in September 2021, it is part of the "Projects of the 50". The program is crucial to the UAE’s economic diversification and sustainable growth strategy. 

Nafis offers various support schemes, financial benefits, and training opportunities. These help Emiratis compete effectively in the job market. The program targets creating 75,000 private sector jobs for Emiratis within five years.

Leadership Statements and Ambitions: Nafis Project

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum spoke about the program's importance during the launch. He is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He emphasized integrating Emiratis into the private sector. This will ensure a balanced and sustainable economy.

Dr. Abdulrahman Al Awar, UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, also spoke. He highlighted the program's ambitious goals. He said, "Under the Nafis Program, the UAE aims to increase the number of Emirati beneficiaries from 75,000 to 170,000 within the next five years."

Launch and Initial Reactions 

The Nafis program was officially launched in September 2021. It received widespread media coverage. The official announcement was shared through various government channels, including on “X” (formerly Twitter).

The launch generated significant attention on social media. Many Emiratis expressed optimism about the program. They saw its potential to provide better career opportunities in the private sector.

The hashtag #Nafis trended as users discussed the program. They talked about its benefits and potential impact on the UAE's job market.

Public and Social Media Reaction

Positive reactions on social media highlighted the government's commitment to supporting its citizens. Discussions also focused on the implementation and long-term sustainability of the initiatives. The program's comprehensive approach was widely appreciated. Its ambitious targets received praise as well.

Nafis..Your Way Campaign

In August 2022, the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council (ETCC) launched the "Nafis..Your Way" campaign. This initiative highlights the success stories of talented Emiratis in the private sector. It showcases the benefits of working in private-sector roles.

The campaign features Emiratis in diverse fields. These include technology, engineering, consulting, financial services, and healthcare. It encourages more UAE nationals to pursue careers in these areas.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, spoke about the campaign. He said it supports Emirati talent and drives local talent to take up specialized roles. These roles require technical and creative skills.

Why Was the Nafis Program Launched?

There are three main factors behind the beginning of the Nafis project:

  1. Economic Diversification - We are all aware that the UAE has relied heavily on oil money. To ensure long-term growth, the government wants to diversify the economy. They aim to do this by strengthening other sectors.

  2. Private Sector Integration -  Most Emiratis work in the public sector, creating an imbalance. The Nafis program aims to fix this by encouraging more Emiratis to join the private sector.

  3. Employment Opportunities - Creating stable jobs for Emiratis is important for economic stability and growth. The Nafis program aims to provide these jobs. It makes sure Emiratis have access to good, secure jobs.

What is the Full Form of Nafis?

Nafis stands for "National Program for Enhancing Emiratisation."

What is the Meaning of Emiratisation?

To understand the Nafis program better, you need to know about the term Emiratisation.

Emiratisation is a bold initiative by the UAE government. It aims to increase the number of Emirati nationals or home-grown talent in both the private and public sectors. This involves various strategies to train, hire, and retain Emirati nationals in today's work environment.

What Does the Nafis Platform Offer for Different Users?

The Nafis platform offers various features for different users:

For Emirati: Nafis helps Emiratis in several ways. It offers personalized career opportunities. It provides tailored initiatives just for them. Registration is easy with UAE Pass. 

For Partners: The associated partners can access multiple tools to manage their organization's profile, post job openings, and collaborate with other businesses. Join a network of industry partners and contribute to the platform growth.

For Talent Program Partners:  Engage with aspiring professionals. Offer mentorship and support talent development initiatives. Access resources to help talent grow. Connect with industry leaders.

For National Healthcare Partners: Participate in healthcare development initiatives. Mentor aspiring professionals. Access resources to support national health growth. Connect with industry leaders.

How Can Nafis Help You - Nafis Benefits

The Nafis program offers many benefits to support Emirati professionals in their careers. Here's how Nafis can help you:

  1. Emirati Salary Support Scheme

The Emirati Salary Support Scheme aims to bridge the gap between the salaries of Emiratis in the private sector and the target salaries set by the program. This support ensures that Emiratis can earn competitive wages. It applies to those employed full-time or participating in training programs.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Employed in the private or financial sector

  • Earning up to AED 30,000 per month

  • No salary from any government entity or retirement salary (unless inherited)

  • Salaries paid through the wage protection system or other official methods

  • Active pension contribution with ADRPBF or GPSSA for the last two months

  • No ownership of shares in the employing establishment

What’s more - Updated on 07 Feb 2024, benefits were extended to all working citizens. This applies regardless of their jobs, specialties, or educational backgrounds. The condition is that their monthly salaries do not exceed AED 30,000.

The maximum monthly allowance is:

  • For holders of a bachelor’s degree - AED 7,000 

  • For diploma holders - AED 6,000

  • For holders of a high school diploma - AED 5,000

  1. Unemployment Benefit

This benefit provides financial support to Emiratis who have lost their jobs in the private sector or establishments licensed by the Central Bank. This applies if the job loss is due to reasons beyond their control.

Support Details:

  • AED 7,000 per month for unemployed Emiratis

  • Additional support for spouses and children

  • Maximum benefit period of 12 months within five years, with a limit of six consecutive months

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Job loss in the private sector or a Central Bank-licensed establishment after September 13, 2021

  • Legal capacity to work.

  • Not a registered student.

  • Income not exceeding the assistance value (full support if no income, reduced if income exists).

  • Income from commercial licenses and real estate counted.

  • Age between 18 and 60 years

  • No ethical violations or legal issues related to job loss

  • Not refusing a job opportunity.

  • Not receiving other financial social assistance (except under Federal Decree-Law No. 13 of 2022).

  • Male children receive allowance until puberty or employment; female children until marriage or employment.

  • Support for female Emiratis if the husband is deceased, unemployed, or unable to provide (with proof).

  • Not enrolled in the National Healthcare program through Nafis.

  1. Child Allowance Scheme

This scheme provides financial support to Emirati employees with children. It offers an allowance for up to four children.

Support Details:

Emiratis in the private sector with a total monthly salary of less than AED 50,000 will receive an allowance of AED 600 for each child. This applies to a maximum of four children and is valid for five years.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Currently employed in the private or financial sector

  • Household provider

  • At least one eligible child (up to 4 covered)

  • Sons: below 21, not employed or married

  • Daughters: below 21, not employed or married

  • Earning less than AED 50,000 per month

  • No salary from any government entity (local or federal) or retirement salary, unless inherited

  • Salaries paid through the wage protection system or other official methods

  • Active pension contribution with ADRPBF or GPSSA for the last 2 months

  • No ownership of shares in the employing establishment

  • Marital status should not be single

  1. Pension Program

  2. The Pension Program supports Emirati employees and employers with pension fund contributions. It starts with full coverage in the first year. Government contributions then gradually decrease over five years.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Employed in the private or financial sector

  • Job start date after September 12, 2021

  • Earning up to AED 20,000 per month

  • No salary from any government entity or retirement salary (unless inherited)

  • Active pension contribution with ADRPBF or GPSSA for the last two months

  • No ownership of shares in the employing establishment

  1. On-the-Job Training Support

This support aims to help Emiratis involved in practical training programs in the private sector.

Support Details:

Monthly salary based on educational level:

  • AED 8,000 for Bachelor’s degree and above

  • AED 6,500 for Diploma/Higher Diploma

  • AED 4,000 for High School

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Hired for on-the-job training through the Nafis platform after September 13, 2021

  • Minimum of a high school degree

  1. Apprentice Program Support

This vocational training initiative matches freshly graduated Emiratis with apprenticeships in private and semi-public companies. It helps them gain professional experience.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Currently unemployed

  • Emirati nationals

  • Holders of a bachelor’s degree

  • Graduated no more than two years before the application

  • Not enrolled in the National Healthcare Program through Nafis

Note: The above-mentioned benefits, support details, and eligibility criteria are taken from the official website. We ensure to keep it up-to-date for you. However, for your safety, please visit the official Nafis website before applying to any program.

How Can Nafis Help You with Jobs and Career Development?

  1. Career Counselling

The Career Counselling Program is here to help UAE nationals improve their skills. It offers both individual and group counseling with professional career counselors. Participants can explore various guidance services to identify their skills, capabilities, and professional interests. This will help them find the best-suited jobs in the market.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Follow the Council's program terms and conditions.

  • UAE nationals seeking employment or working in the private sector.

  1. Job Offers

The Job Offers program provides a platform to connect Emiratis with job opportunities in the private sector. Employers can find the right candidates, and the platform helps match Emiratis with private-sector jobs.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Unemployed Emirati citizens.

  • Meet the minimum educational requirements in job postings.

  • Not enrolled in the National Healthcare program through Nafis.

Note: Job opportunities are offered, but the final hiring decision is up to the company. Getting a job is not guaranteed.

  1. On-the-Job Training Offers

The "On-the-Job Training" program offers one-year training opportunities for Emirati nationals. These opportunities are in the private sector. Nafis supports the salaries during this period.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Unemployed Emirati citizens.

  • High school degree or higher.

  • Meet educational requirements for the training postings.

  • Not enrolled in the National Healthcare program through Nafis.

  1. National Healthcare Program

The National Healthcare Program supports Emiratis in pursuing healthcare degrees and diplomas.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Emirati National.

  • High school diploma or higher.

  • Meet the requirements of the selected healthcare program.

  • Unemployed or retired (except students under a "National Student Employment Contract").

  • Not a student or registered in an educational institution.

  • Not receiving a pension from ADRPBF, GPSSA, or Military pension.

  • Not sponsored by other entities or receiving other government benefits.

  • Not enrolled in any Nafis benefits and programs.

  1. Apprentice Program Offers

The Apprentice Program provides apprenticeships for newly graduated Emiratis in private and semi-public companies.

Eligibility Criteria for Partners: 

  • Private sectors or semi-private companies through their official representative.

Eligibility Criteria for Emirati Nationals:

  • Unemployed Emirati citizens.

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher.

  • Graduated no more than 2 years before applying.

  • Not enrolled in the National Healthcare program through Nafis.

  1. Talent Program

The Talent Program supports Emiratis who want to up-skill or re-skill.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Emirati Nationals.

  • Currently employed in the private or financial sector.

  • Meet the minimum requirements of the certificate programs.

  • Not enrolled in the National Healthcare program through Nafis.

Rewards of the Nafis Program

The Nafis program supports Emirati employment and career development. It recognizes and rewards excellence in Emiratisation through various awards and incentives.

Nafis Award

The Nafis Award honors private sector companies and Emirati individuals who excel in promoting Emiratisation. This award highlights significant contributions to integrating Emiratis into the private sector workforce.

Objectives of the Nafis Awards are to Encourage Emiratisation, Recognise Excellence, and Promote Best Practices

Winners of the First Cycle (2022-2023): Nafis Award

  • Large-Sized Companies: Majid Al Futtaim Hypermarkets LLC

  • Medium-Sized Companies: Al Masar Recruitment Services

  • Small-Sized Companies: KPMG Lower Gulf Limited

Special Honors: 21 companies received special honors, including:

  1. Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas LLC (VOX)

  2. Al Futtaim Private Co LLC

  3. Injazat A G42 Company

  4. Crif Gulf DWC LLC

  5. OMB for Manpower Staffing Services

  6. Aldar Projects

  7. Al Riyadh School

  8. Al Rayana School

  9. Emirates Response Services LLC

  10. SAAED for Traffic Systems

  11. Teleperformance

  12. Taqieem Trade Information Centre

  13. Taqdeer Centre

  14. Etimad Holding

  15. IGG Emirates Advanced Training LLC

  16. Al Shuweihat Limited Partnership

  17. Lulu Hypermarket

  18. Jindal SAW Gulf

  19. Halliburton Worldwide Limited

  20. Keolis MHI

  21. Maximon for Project Management

Individual Awards in the First Cycle:

  • Supervisory/Leadership Jobs: Ghanim Ghuloom Ali Karam

  • Administrative Jobs: Fatima Mubarak al-Karbi

  • Medical Jobs: Amal Abdullah AlMulla Al Muhairi, Noura Salem Mohammed Al-Nashmi Al Mansoori

  • Finance Jobs: Abdulrahman Mohammed Khalfan Kharbash

  • Lawyers Jobs: Hawra Moosa Abdulrasool Moosa

  • Professional Jobs: Mona Ibrahim Jomaa Abdullah Al Mansouri

  • Retail Jobs: Chadha Ali Ibrahim Obaid Shehhi

  • Trainees Category: Abdullah Khalid Ali Abdullah Al Raissi

Winners of the Second Cycle Nafis Award 2023-24

  • Winner under Gold Catergory Award - al hilal bank, Sharjah Islamic Bank, alfardan exchange

  • Winner under Silver Category Award - nextcare, Global Medical Solutions, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, ETIMAD, USG

  • Winner under Bronze Category Award  - C.A.T Group, JBI Properties Services, KAWADER, EMIRATES Gateway Security Services, HALLIBURTON, EPIC Recruitment Services, Al Hajis Business Man Services, IGG Emirates, GALFAR, AL SAHRAA Recruitment Services, Commercial Bank of Dubai, JULPHAR, Petrofac, Global Air Navigation Services. 

  • Burjeel Holdings won three prestigious awards in the second cycle of the Nafis Award

  • Union Coop secured first place in the 2023-2024 "Nafis" Award for Small-Sized Entities in Trade and Repair Services.

  • The National Health Insurance Company – Daman won six awards from the 2023-2024 Nafis program.

Winners of Individuals Category:  Nafis Award 2023-24

Leadership Jobs:

  • First: Prof. Humaid Obaid Al Shamsi

  • Second: Naser Saif Al Riyami

  • Third: Aysha Ali Al Mahri

Supervisory Jobs:

  • First: Aisha Salim Obaid Al Mazrouei

  • Second: Husam Tariq Al Dhuhoori

  • Third: Mariam Hasan Alhammadi

Banking Jobs:

  • First: Dana Mohammed AlAnsari

  • Second: Shafiqa Mohamed Alsalami

  • Third: Aisha Hassan AlNaqbi

Retail & Customer Jobs:

  • First: Ali Abdulla AlEissaee

  • Second: Hamda Humaid Alaref

  • Third: Nouf Munther Al Ali

Engineering & Technical Jobs:

  • First: Aisha Saeed Al Kindi

  • Second: Khalid Abdulmajeed Al Awar

  • Third: Alya Husain Al Hosani

Specialised Jobs:

  • First: Abdalla Nasir Alnuaimi

  • Second: Hamad Abdullah Alshehhi

  • Third: Athba Mubarak Alhosani

Administrative Jobs:

  • First: Hanan Ali Al Balooshi

  • Second: Razan Naser Almessabi

  • Third: Ahmed Abdulhadi AlJaberi

Healthcare Jobs:

  • First: Saddeiqah Mohamed AlDhuhoori

  • Second: Sara Musallam AlKatheeri

  • Third: Asma Adil AlMaeeni

Medical Jobs:

  • First: Dr. Mariam Khalfan Alsuwaidi

  • Second: Dr. Amna Mohamed Al Marzooqi

  • Third: Dr. Adil Saeed Sajwani

Specialized Medical Jobs:

  • First: Reem Mohsin Alfalasi

  • Second: Najla Yousif Al Naqbi

  • Third: Fatima Zaid Al Shehhi

What Are the Penalties for Non-Compliance with Emiratisation Laws?

The UAE government has strict penalties for companies that fail to comply with Emiratisation laws. Here's a summary:

Legal Framework and Compliance Requirements:

  • Companies with 51-100 employees must hire at least two Emiratis.

  • Companies with 20-49 employees must hire at least one Emirati by 2024 and a second by 2025.

  • Companies with 101-150 skilled employees must hire at least three Emiratis.

  • Companies with more than 151 employees must hire one Emirati for every 50 workers.

Fines for Non-Compliance:

  • Companies with 20 to 49 workers must employ at least one Emirati in 2024 or pay AED 96,000.

  • In 2025, companies that fail to employ two Emiratis will pay AED 108,000.

Fines for Fake Emiratisation:

  • In April-May 2024, 1,202 companies were fined AED 20,000 to AED 100,000 for falsifying Emirati employment records.

  • Guilty companies were referred to the Public Prosecution, lost benefits from the Nafis program, and had to return financial incentives.

Escalating Penalties:

  • First Violation: AED 100,000 fine for reducing Emirati numbers or modifying classifications to circumvent targets.

  • Second Consecutive Violation: AED 300,000 fine.

  • Third or Subsequent Violation: AED 500,000 fine.

Monthly Fines:

  • Starting January 2023, AED 6,000 per month for each Emirati not hired. This increases by AED 1,000 each year.

Additional Obligations and Penalties:

  • Companies must follow specific advertising and hiring practices.

  • Violations can lead to bans on government tenders, license cancellations, and work permit suspensions.

  • Non-compliant companies may face increased work permit fees and potential suspensions or refusals.

Example of Enforcement and Public Communication

In April-May 2024, MoHRE fined 1,202 companies for falsifying Emirati employment records and referred these companies to Public Prosecution for further legal action. This was publicly communicated via their official social media channels, including X platform:

Is there Another Platform Besides Nafis to Hire Emirati talent?

Nafis is an excellent platform for hiring Emirati talent, offering extensive support for both employers and job seekers. However, if you're looking for an alternative, consider TalentPoint, the #1 platform for recruiting Emirati professionals.

Why Choose TalentPoint?

TalentPoint is the leading choice for Emirati recruitment, exclusively dedicated to connecting top Emirati talent with premier opportunities. We help you nurture Emirati careers and contribute to the UAE's growth.

Our Achievements:

  • 5000+ Emirati Professionals Placed

  • 3000+ Emirati CVs Uploaded Daily

  • 200+ Companies Meeting Emiratisation Quota

TalentPoint makes hiring easy and provides access to many qualified Emirati candidates. The platform is tailored to meet specific needs, helping companies achieve their Emiratisation goals more easily.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Nafis Program

  1. How do I register with Nafis in the UAE as a Partner?

You can register for the Nafis program by following these steps:

Step 1: Visit the Nafis website - 

Step 2: Registering using UAE Pass

Step 3: Once authenticated, the platform will perform an automatic eligibility check to determine the benefits and opportunities you qualify for.

Step 4: Apply to areas of interest

Step 5: Now you can submit job offers and training opportunities.

  1. Who is Eligible for Nafis?

Emirati citizens over 18 years seeking private sector jobs or career development.

  1.  What is the Salary of UAE Nationals?

Salaries for UAE nationals vary by industry and position. The Nafis program provides salary support to ensure competitive wages in the private sector.

  1. Is it Mandatory to Register with Nafis?

Registration with Nafis isn't required but is highly recommended for Emiratis looking for job and career growth opportunities. Companies are required to meet Emiratisation targets.

  1. What is the Private Sector in the UAE?

The private sector includes businesses and enterprises that are privately owned and not part of the government, covering various industries such as finance, healthcare, education, and more.

  1. What is the “Nafis” program's purpose?

The primary objective of the Nafis program is to establish a mutually beneficial partnership between the private and public sectors. This results in the empowerment of the private sector, which directly contributes to the UAE’s development journey.

  1. What are the Initiatives for the Employment of Emiratis?

Initiatives include:

  • Emirati Salary Support Scheme

  • Unemployment Benefits

  • Child Allowance Scheme

  • Pension Program

  • On-the-Job Training Support

  • Apprentice Program

  1. How to Check Nafis Balance?

Registered users can log into their Nafis accounts to check their balance and the status of financial benefits.

  1. How to Change the Education Level in Nafis?

Users can update their education level by logging into their Nafis accounts and modifying their profile information.

  1. When Did Nafis Start?

The Nafis program was launched in September 2021 as part of the UAE’s "Projects of the 50."

  1. What is the UAE Retirement Program?

The UAE retirement program provides pensions for Emirati nationals to ensure financial stability during retirement. Nafis contributes by enrolling private sector Emirati employees in the General Pensions and Social Security Authority (GPSSA).

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