Expat students in UAE may be allowed to take up employment

September 2nd, 2008 - 4:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Abu Dhabi, Sep 2 (IANS) In a bid to reduce reliance on foreign labour, a new system has been recommended by a special panel in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that will allow expatriate students to put in work hours even as they pursue their studies.Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has approved a number of recommendations by the Demographic Structure Committee, which is tasked with finding ways to handle the country’s demographic imbalance, the state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

One of the recommendations approved allows for a special system that will set work hours for expatriate students willing to be part-timers and full-timers in various jobs, which would then help them fulfil the needs of the local labour market and thus decrease reliance on foreign labour.

As of now, expatriate students on a university visa cannot take up employment.

Interior Minister Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who chairs the Demographic Structure Committee, said the government was making serious efforts to find solutions to the problem and strike a balance between the comprehensive boom in the country and the national principles and interests of the UAE.

Of the estimated 4.6 million population of the UAE, around 20 percent comprise nationals while the rest are all non-nationals, making it a country with one of the highest populations of foreign-born residents in the world.

Indians, at 1.5 million, comprise the largest expatriate community in this Gulf nation. A large number of them are engaged as contract labourers in the booming construction industry here or as domestic workers.

Sheikh Saif said efforts and innovative initiatives have been launched aimed at boosting national interests and removing obstacles to sustainable development, one of which was demographic imbalance.

According to reports here, another initiative on the anvil calls for advanced techniques in the construction sector that will help reduce dependence on foreign labourers.

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