UAE Overview

In 1971, a new country, United Arab Emirates emerged by joining small Trucial States like Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain. Few years later, from this desert on the Arabian Gulf raised towers & buildings of 300 meters high, large highways, hotels ranking between five and seven stars, luxurious airports serving 16 million passengers, the biggest home-made artificial harbour in the world, several free trade zones. All the above mentioned contributed to the creation of one of the most important commercial hubs in the world.

In 1971, a new country, almost a desert on the Arabian Gulf got its independence. Few years later, from the desert raised towers & buildings of 300 meters high, large highways, hotels ranking between five and seven stars, luxurious airports serving 16 million passengers, the biggest home-made artificial harbour in the world, several free trade zones. All the above mentioned contributed to the creation of one of the most important commercial hubs in the world.

The UAE population is 4,104,695, of which 20.1 per cent are UAE Nationals in last year's census compared with 2,411,041 in the last census conducted in 1995.

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Government

Government type : Federation with specified powers delegated to the UAE Federal Government and other powers reserved to member emirates.

Chief of state : President H.H.Khalifa Bin Zayid Al-Nahayyan (since November 3, 2004), ruler of Abu Dhabi; Vice President and Prime Minister H.H. Muhammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (January 5, 2006).

Though an Arab-Islamic country, UAE is one of the most liberal societies among all the other Arab nations. Its amazing amalgamation of the traditional values of the East and the modern technologies of the West, being a melting pot of various nationalities and cultures living together and working in harmony and a standard of living that is comparable to the world's most advanced nations makes it one of 20th century's success stories. The UAE's per capita GDP is on par with those of leading West European nations. Its generosity with oil revenues and its moderate foreign policy stance have allowed the UAE to play a vital role in the affairs of the region.

Economy - overview

The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Its wealth is based on oil and gas output (about 30% of GDP), and the fortunes of the economy fluctuate with the prices of those commodities. Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up its utilities to greater private sector involvement.

The Business Environment

UAE offers business sector all the advantages of a highly developed economy. The infrastructure and services match the highest international standards, facilitating efficiency, quality and service. Among the benefits are:

  • Free enterprise system
  • Highly developed transportation infrastructure
  • State-of-the-art telecommunications
  • Top international exhibitions and conference venue
  • High quality office and residential accommodation.
  • Reliable power, utilities etc.
  • First class hotels, hospitals, schools, shops and Cosmopolitan lifestyle

Labour Law

Administered by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Labour Law in the UAE is loosely based on the International Labour Organisation's model. UAE Law No. 8 of 1980, as amended by Law No. 12 of 1986 (the Labour Law), governs most aspects of employer/employee relations, such as hours of work, leave, termination rights, medical benefits and repatriation. The Labour Law is protective of employees in general and overrides conflicting contractual provisions agreed under another jurisdiction, unless they are beneficial to the employee.

The Ministry issues a model form of labour contract in Arabic which is widely used, but other forms of contract are enforceable, provided they comply with the Labour Law. End of contract gratuities are equivalent to 21 days pay for every year of the first five years of service and 30 days for every year thereafter. The total gratuity should not exceed two years' wages. Employees are entitled to pro-rated amounts for service periods less than a full year, provided they have completed one year in continuous service.

Trade unions do not exist. In the case of a dispute between employer and employee, or in interpretation of the Labour Law, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will initially act as an adjudicator. If a party wishes to appeal any such decision, it can take its case to court. Strikes and lockouts are forbidden.

Working Hours and Holidays

The normal maximum working hours are eight per day or 48 per week. However, these hours may be increased to nine daily for people working in the retail trade, hotels, restaurants and other such establishments. Similarly, daily working hours may be reduced for difficult or dangerous jobs. Many businesses work on a two-shift system (for example, 8am - 1pm and 4pm - 7pm ). As in all Muslim countries, Friday is the weekly day of rest.

In practice, commercial and professional firms work 40-45 hours a week and government ministries about 35. The weekend for office workers has traditionally been Thursday afternoon and Friday (for government office workers, Thursday and Friday), but a number of organisations have changed to a five-day week with Friday and Saturday as the weekend. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, normal working hours are reduced by two hours per day.

There are 10 days of public holidays (paid) in any year. The employee's annual leave is two days for every month if his service is more than six months and less than a year. In every completed year of service after the first, an employee is entitled to 30 days annual paid leave. This is in addition to public holidays, maternity leave for women and sick leave.

Currency and Exchange rate

There are no exchange controls in the UAE and its currency, the UAE Dirham, is freely convertible. The Dirham is linked to the US dollar, the currency by which oil prices are measured. The exchange rate has remained at AED 3.675 = US$ 1 since 1977.

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