As part of the UAE government’s policy to provide job opportunities to UAE nationals in the private sector, representatives from Tas’heel (the UAE Ministry of Labour’s online service center) have confirmed that the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has introduced a requirement for all onshore employers to interview any suitably skilled local nationals before proceeding to hire an expatriate in that role.

Under the new system, employers will receive a notification from MOHRE when applying for an offer letter for a new employee if there are qualified local national job seekers available for the new role. The notification will inform the employer that it needs to interview a qualified local national candidate and may also require the employer to attend a job open day (where it will be expected to meet with and interview potential local national candidates for the vacant position) before it can hire an expatriate into the role. If the employer decides not to hire the local national candidate, it will be required to provide reasons to MOHRE as to why he/she was not suitable for the role.

Tas’heel advises that this requirement applies to approximately 70% of skill level 1 (specialised occupations requiring a university degree) and level 2 roles (technical occupations), and to a number of level 3 roles. However, it does not apply to lower level roles in levels 4 and 5 of MOHRE’s job skills list.

This new process is expected to extend the period of time it takes for onshore employers to recruit for new skilled roles, putting a premium on careful advance planning of manpower requirements.