The UAE handling of the demographic structure challenge forms one of national priorities and key guidelines of the government action, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, affirmed on Sunday.
Speaking during a Federal Cabinet meeting which was wholly dedicated to the demographic structure issue, Sheikh Mohammed said instructions given by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan "are clear" empowering the UAE citizen and make him the key engine of development. Guided by these instructions, the government is drawing and implementing an integrated framework of government concerted initiatives and policies whose prime target is to strike a demographic balance in parallel with the comprehensive development that benefits UAE citizen in all emirates of the country.
During the session, which was attended by Lt General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, in his capacity as Chairman of the Federal Demographic Structure Council, a raft of major sovereign resolutions were taken whereas all concerned bodies were tasked with implementing them in line with the strategy presented by Sheikh Saif.
The first resolutions issued by the cabinet sets specific, clear percentage targets of UAE citizens over the next 20 years through a package of concerted economic and social policies and initiatives based on the projected economic and demographic growth scenarios during the said period. All demographic policies will seek to deliver these targets.
In the second resolution, the Federal Cabinet instructed all entities concerned with economic planning and monitoring of manpower in the country to adopt a balanced development method characterised with economic diversification, dependence on skilled workforce and modern technology in its production cycle in order to have a knowledge-based economy that generates opportunities for UAE citizens and meets development requirements as per instructions of the leadership which makes the citizen an axis and target of development.
In this respect, the cabinet approved the creation of a fund for productivity improvement whose mandate is to stimulate the private sector to improve its productivity through introduction of advanced technologies, provision of skilled and trained workforce to the private sector companies.
The fund will act under the jurisdiction of the Federal Demographic Structure Council whose Chairman will approve its powers and statute.
According to the third resolution, the cabinet instructed that uncontrolled import of unskilled labourers should be limited and replaced by recruitment from within the UAE and bringing in highly skilled workforce based on the accredited professional and educational certificates.
The chairman of the Federal Demographic Structure Council may exempt from this resolution domestic helpers or any other categories he specifies.
The cabinet instructed the authorities handling labour issues to work out suitable alternative methods to supply the local labour market with skilled professionals through establishment of overseas centres for testing and training workforce in the labour-sending countries without making employers bearing any additional costs instead of the unsystematic import of workforce at present.
In a bid to lessen the unskilled workers in the construction sector, the largest employer of this kind of manpower, the cabinet instructed the competent agencies to introduce an indicator for construction that defines a set of technical standards for building designs focusing on improving productivity in this sector and limiting the number of unskilled workers according to regulations that help contracting companies to use modern technology.
The cabinet also instructed these entities to set a minimum for the required qualifications to occupy some jobs and professional and handicraft works starting with the construction sector. These qualifications should also be adopted by the Chairman of the Federal Demographic Structure Council in order to have a job market based on skillful professionals and modern technologies.
The cabinet also mandated the Federal Demographic Structure Council (FDSC) to define a ceiling for the number of vocational and marginal professions, or any other professions that could be replaced by modern technology. The numbers are to be specified annually and amended according to need.
The cabinet directed all concerned authorities to comply with these resolutions. FDSC has been assigned to oversee implementation of the resolutions, to establish a liaison among different entities towards the implementation and to regularly submit recommendations and progress reports about the initiative to the cabinet.
At the end of the session, the cabinet praised the comprehensive strategy put forward by the FDSC and commended the efforts being made in dealing with the challenges of demographic structure.
Mohammed meets Iranian foreign minister
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday received at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, the Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
Present were Lt General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister.
Sheikh Mohammed Ali Akbar reviewed the overall current situation in the region and ways to promote peace and stability for the prosperity of their people.
During the meeting, Sheikh Mohammed reiterated the importance of establishing stability in the region and the importance of communication between officials in the UAE and the Islamic Republic of Iran with his confirmation on a mutual respect for sovereignty of states in the region.
He welcomed the visit of the Iranian minister and his accompanying delegation to the UAE, saying that it comes in the framework of communication between officials from both countries hailing the distinguished bilateral relations between UAE and Iran.
They also discussed the situation in the Kingdom of Bahrain as Sheikh Mohammed highlighted the Bahraini leadership wisdom in dealing with the events that occurred in the Kingdom of Bahrain recently.
The meeting was also attended by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Mohammad Reza Fayyad, Ambassador of Iran to UAE.
The cabinet stressed the need for all federal, local and private entities to join efforts and to work as a one team to make this initiative a success.