DUBAI (AFP) – The United Arab Emirates issued a decree on Wednesday to tighten rules on the firing of its citizens from private sector jobs, the official WAM news agency reported.
The measure comes as the oil-rich Gulf state — where foreigners make up about 90 percent of the workforce — feels the pinch from the global economic crisis.
Under the new regulation, the sacking of a UAE national from a company employing a foreigner doing the same job would be considered “illegal”, WAM reported citing the decree issued by Labour Minister Saqr Ghobash.
“(The decree) considers ending the service of the national as ‘illegal’… if it were proven that a company is keeping a non-national doing the same job,” the agency said.
The UAE, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, has witnessed a six-year economic boom fuelled by soaring oil prices and the emirate of Dubai has grown into a financial, tourism and real estate hub.
The boom has attracted many foreigners, especially from South and Southeast Asia, many of whom are low-paid workers, while Westerners are also lured by by tax breaks and the lifestyle.
Figures released in December said the UAE population stood at 6.4 million at the end of 2007, but that only 14 percent were nationals.