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Latest Trends in People Practices in UAE

As you nibble on a shawarma in a 7-star resort inside the rich man’s playground, you may have noticed the staff are of different ethnicities. It is the norm here in the UAE.

In this article, we’ll explore the latest trends in HR practices in UAE. Join me as we examine the exceptional mash of corporate culture unique to the seven emirates.

Fact: The Trucial States are home to more than 200 expat ethnicities from across the globe.

An Overview of People Practice in UAE

From the pearl shores of Abu Dhabi to the undulating sand dunes of little-known Umm Al-Quwain, every HR policy maker answers FAHR’s adhan with a religious devotion.

The federal body reviews and proposes HR legislation, oversees policy implementation, as well as ensuring strict compliance with labor laws for such a diverse workforce.

Unscrupulous labor sharks thrive in a burgeoning sea of expatriates. To make the ocean safe for timid migrant workers, UAE has strict laws governing the federal HR market. Let’s highlight 5 fundamental aspects of The UAE Labor Laws.

Elementary UAE People Practice Guidelines

The employee-employer relationship in UAE is legally grounded on the following:

  • A Valid Employment Contract

Upon agreement to work in the UAE, an employee must sign a written contract before onboarding. Most employers source for leads from recruitment agencies and job portals, and a successful candidate can request a translated labor agreement.

For expatriates, you can’t be issued with a Work Visa without a written contract. The typical probation period is 6 months, during which either side can sever ties WITHOUT prior notice.

The most common contract types in UAE are; fixed (limited) duration, unlimited (flexible) agreements, and special employment contracts.

A template UAE employment contract has the following components:

  1. Employer details and obligations.
  2. Employee roles and biometrics.
  3. Remuneration and bonuses, if any.
  4. Probation, contract duration, gratuity, and termination procedures.

Note: There’s an Emiratization policy aimed at increasing employment of aborigines in the private sector. Check the updated state quotas and save big on lawyer fees. The contract is almost always in Arabic. As HR, create a translated equivalent for non-cursive writers.

  • Stipulated Working Hours

Human trafficking victims have narrated horrifying stories of 20-hour working days, creating septic diplomatic relations between UAE and the immigrant’s motherland. Dubai, for example, is the most overworked country in the world.

UAE authorities insist on 48 weekly hours. If a worker still has juice to discharge their chores with utmost efficiency, any extra hours must be compensated as overtime.

  • Employee Benefits and Leave Entitlements

For starters, medical insurance and end-of-service gratuity are obligatory in UAE. Modern companies dangle incentivized packages like performance-based stipends to remain competitive and retain talent.

Companies I’ve dealt with offer food, accomodation, and transport allowances. I know top-level managers whose kids attend international schools in the UAE on their employer’s budget.

Paid annual leave days are chiseled in stone. Employers must provide sick and maternity/ paternity leaves. Aggressive HR professionals wave a bereavement placard to catch prospective workers.

  • Regulatory Requirements and HR Practice Compliance

The HR industry in UAE isn’t necessarily steeped in shariah. Ethical issues are in a state of flux, and it’s the role of HR to save corporate reputation by constantly updating the ever-changing labor requirements.

A HR manager was telling me how thoroughly UAE authorities scrutinized their workforce’ documents. The laconic inspectors were particular about the following items:

  1. The company’s Health and Occupational Safety assessment reports and a conflict resolution manual.
  2. Employee passports, Visas, contracts, and medical records.
  3. PPE inventories, disaster management procedure outlines, and a notice-board copy of updated labor laws.
  • Training Opportunities and Employee Performance Appraisal

By law, companies in UAE are supposed to float regular training and skill development vacancies for all their staff. Majority L&D executives choose simulations for a new skill before launching the workforce on a live platform.

From the lowest employee cadre to gulfstream-flying CEOs, HR executives remain the custodians of unbiased workforce appraisals in UAE.

To foster a Kai Zen culture, employers set and clearly communicate realistic and measurable performance targets. The current trend is using Objectives and Key Results, Key Performance Indicators, and custom goal-setting frameworks.

Top People Practice Trends in UAE in 2024

Here’s 5 tactics your UAE organization can use to retain a competitive edge in 2024.


Manual HR tasks in the UAE taste like stale veal. To avoid the smoldering employment climate, employers use HR software for integrated data analytics. You’ll make decisions based on metrics instead of leveraging policy on shallow assumptions.

Smart Dubai achieved competitive advantage by adopting disruptive technologies during the sectoral transformation of the country.

Trendy HR moguls in The Persian Gulf use HRMS for recruitment (selection and placement), performance management, learning and development, and to prioritize rewards or leaderboard recognition.

Prioritize employee well-being and health

Don’t be a hermit with your employees, especially when it’s their immediate health needs we’re talking about. Build a workplace culture that supports and values its employees’ wellness, and your retention rates will attract the Prince’s attention!

Be a compassionate workplace. Dedicate a day every month to focus on mental health. The modern UAE workplace requires HR managers to balance appropriate policies with employee wellness.

Malleability to new compliance requirements and flexible work arrangements

UAE labor laws and state regulations will forever keep changing. Your HR department will soon have to rewrite the employee handbook, especially to cater for flexible work arrangements.

Every quarter, reevaluate the rules touching on drug testing, workplace anti-harassment procedures, leave benefits, and pay transparency laws. Twitch policies that affect remote workers, a growing variety of employees in 2024.

Did You Know?
Some UAE state labor laws cover residents working remotely for businesses outside their states. Ensure that your HR practices don’t upset another UAE’s state laws.

Foster diversity, equity, and inclusion

A survey on UAE workforce diversity is your best guide to necessitate HR policy changes. An employer accommodating multiple religions and allowing freedom of worship for all creates a happy, peaceful sanctuary. Make your conservative competitors blush.

Ensure your charges feel safe, wanted, and valued in your organization. No employee would want to leave such an organization!

The federal UAE government encourages peaceful coexistence among its citizens and the labor force. They have a Ministry of Tolerance (the first of its kind in the world) that celebrates different cultures and religions in emirate-wide festivals.

In light of ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, organizations across the UAE were piqued to identify and change any biases entrenched in their HR policies; whether they came about consciously or otherwise.

To stay ahead of the pack, release annual diversity reports to demonstrate the efficacy of your efforts. Create an institutional culture of inclusion and invite everyone to see it in practice.

Proactive in CSR and green HR

Every UAE employer should know better than the rest of us to go green. As a professional, propose discomforting HRM strategies that stimulate and support sustainable resource use. Heck, you could even adopt an oasis in the neighborhood!

Go paperless, lobby for green energy, and inflict severe consequences on any wasteful staff. Clap cymbals and chant “Green Employee Habits, Green HR Engagement, for a Green Work Climate” until the president listens.

I understand you’re itching for 6-digit margins at the AGM. But at what cost to the community? CSR UAE Fund will help you picket for adherence to environmental, philanthropic, economic, and ethical/ human rights responsibilities.

Critique UAE laws that exempt certain businesses from CSR initiatives. Pilot with your organization, and am sure the federal UAE government will follow your trailblazer lead. But be wise and objective, otherwise desert ants will be feasting on your limbs soon enough.


Technology and the need for a greener, better-equipped, and motivated staff continues to shape HR policy in UAE. Beyond 2024, there can only be more drastic changes to policies. HR professionals can’t swim against trending practices, lest they’re buried into corporate irrelevance.