United Arab Emirates

Migrant workers in the UAE cut steel rebar at a construction site ©ILO

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has an estimated population of 9.3 million (2021 estimates) of which some 665,145 are UAE nationals, and 8.7 million migrant workers, most of whom are temporary contract workers. Despite a concerted push towards the nationalization – or Emiratization - of the workforce in the private sector, the majority of the private sector labour force is composed of expatriates while UAE nationals continue to be employed in the country's public sector. Expatriate workers in the UAE contributed to their home countries more than 47.5 billion US dollars in 2021, making the UAE the second biggest source of remittances in the world.
The ILO is a non-resident UN agency in the UAE yet is active in the UN Country Team via the Regional Office and the Decent Work Team in Beirut.

Labour Inspection & Occupational Safety & Health

With the adoption of the occupational safety and health as a fundamental principle and right at work at the 110th session of the International Labour Conference in 2022, the recognition of two ILO conventions and namely No. 155 and No. 187 as fundamental conventions, and in view of the transformative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the importance and relevance of OSH in the world of work and people’s livelihood in general, occupational safety and health is a critical priority for ILO in the Arab States region which is realized via the provision of capacity-building support to constituents, in order to capacitate them and in the process ensure safe and healthy working conditions for the world’s workforce.

In 2023, the ILO in the Arab States launched a project that aims to empower MoHRE by building its institutional capacities to effectively monitor working conditions and create and maintain safe and healthy workspaces in all sectors of the economy.

The new development cooperation project will see the ILO providing technical support, including practical training, to build the capacity of the MoHRE labour inspectorate and other staff, providing them with the necessary skills that will enable them to perform effective inspections, detect non-compliance and effectively manage non-compliance cases.

The training of trainers programme, which will be implemented in collaboration with the ILO International Training Centre in Turin, will cover a wide range of labour inspection and occupational safety and health topics, and other related issues, including risk assessment and using state-of-the-art OSH equipment.

Previous Areas of Engagement and Cooperation

In past years, the ILO and the UAE have worked together on advancing decent work and social justice in the country through a number of avenues and initiatives, primarily via the Improved labour migration governance programme which was launched in 2015 and concluded in 2018.

  1. Population, total - United Arab Emirates | Data (worldbank.org)
  2. International Migrant Stock | Population Division (un.org)
  3. International Data | Migration data portal