Orders to imprison a business owner were issued by the UAE Public Prosecution after receiving proof that he defrauded 296 Emiratis under the Nafis Scheme.
The accused was running a training company registered under the Nafis scheme, wherein the objective was to train Emirati men and women in the fields of commercial litigation and eCommerce.
During the course of the training, the business owner asked his trainees to deposit a specific amount into the bank account. When asked about the purpose of the amount, the trainees were informed that the money would be utilized for “charity purposes”.
UAE Laws Against Exploitation of Nafis Scheme
The company had also threatened that if they do not deposit the asked amount into the firm’s bank account, then the trainees would get a negative evaluation of their training, which means that they could not successfully complete the program.
According to investigation details presented before the Public Prosecution, the accused functioned as both the owner and manager of the firm and had two more employees working in the company under him. The company was registered in the Nafis program as an online platform that will train Emirati men and women to be able to be competitive and knowledgeable in commercial mediation and eCommerce so as to get employment in the private sector in the UAE.
There were a total of 296 registered trainees under the company, including both men and women, who joined the training program with the expectation to get adequate training and qualification to get themselves a job in private sector companies.
However, during the course of the program, the trainees got to realize that the training did not add any sort of practical, technical, or scientific value to their already existing skills. That combined with the fact that the owner asked for money and threatened to fail the trainees if they don’t comply, made them realize the fraud and report it to the respective authorities.
The “Nafis” program is an initiative by the UAE federal government that aims to increase the level of Emiratisation in the private sector. Launched as a part of the “Projects of the 50” grand scheme, which aims to take UAE to the next phase in its development journey, the program aims to provide job opportunities for 75,000 Emirati men and women within the next five years.
To ensure that Emirati men and women are well-prepared in terms of technical and interpersonal skills, there are various training programs and other activities conducted to make sure that Emiratis are ready to take on the challenges that come with private sector jobs.
Some of the activities that help get the Emirati workforce in the country ready for the private sector include professional training/coaching, mentoring initiatives, counseling, etc.
Any Emirati man or woman aged above 18 years can be a part of the Nafis program, and apart from the training, mentoring, and preparation for job opportunities, joining the Nafis program also have additional benefits, such as:
- The Emirati Salary Support Scheme ensures that the government pays any salary difference that exists between the target salary of an individual and the actual salary they make at their job in the private sector, the salary support provided by the government depends on the specific ceiling amount of salary target that each individual belongs to.
- Under Nafis, employees working in the private sector can receive up to 6 months of unemployment benefits from the government if the job loss was due to involuntary reasons.
- The program also provides child allowances, for the first time in the UAE, for private sector employees.
To ensure that the motivation and objective of the Nafis program are safeguarded at all times, there are legal frameworks that aim to penalize individuals or businesses that take negative advantage of the program and thus hinder the effectiveness of the Emiratisation goals set forward by the UAE government.
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Any business that shows fake Emiratisation achievements just to enjoy the benefits provided by the Nafis scheme will be penalized with an amount ranging between AED20,000 and AED100,000 for each fake Emirati employment that the company has the employment record for.
Moreover, any benefits or support the business so far enjoyed under the Nafis scheme will be immediately suspended, and any financial assistance disbursed to the business as part of the Emiratisation support will be recovered.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) in the UAE have strict inspections and assessments of businesses that take benefits as part of the Nafis scheme. In fact, the MoHRE was able to identify 227 records of fake Emiratisation in 2022 alone, out of which financial penalties were imposed on 109 private establishments and they were downgraded to “Category 3” of businesses, a category which explicitly recognizes a business to be in violation of the UAE executive regulations, labor law, and other standards issued by the government.