The number of foreign workers in Abu Dhabi, the largest of the emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is expected to nearly double in the next 6-8 years as the industrial, services, and construction sectors expand. The government is devising a legal and regulatory framework to regulate and manage foreign labor. The framework will be embodied in a foreign labor service (FLS) that will position the country as a competitive, well-managed destination for investment.

Nathan Associates is working with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Planning and Economy and the Higher Corporation of Specialized Economic Zones (Zones Corp) to design and establish the FLS. The FLS will coordinate and regulate laborers who work in the economic zones and will offer investors an attractive package of benefits. As a convenient and well priced one stop shop, the FLS will be able to
* Issue employee work permits and entry visas in 24 hours,
* Conduct employee health checks and arrange for health insurance,
* Verify certificates and conduct background security checks,
* Arrange for employment contracts,
* Issue smart IDs that contain all employment, health, and access information, and
* Provide access to modern employee housing. We are linking the service’s vision, objectives, and strategies to specific performance indicators, such as customer requirements and service delivery; establishing processes to meet customer requirements; defining organizational structure and staff roles and responsibilities; allocating program resources; and defining financial targets.

In defining how the FLS will deliver services, we are particularly concerned with coordination with existing institutions and infrastructure. Our design and mapping of service processes and systems covers the introduction of an exchange to balance labor supply and demand and of a 24-hour entry visa and work permit system, as well as a payment system.
In devising the FLS organizational plan, we are covering needs for staffing, equipment, and financing; writing job descriptions and performance standards; and defining a strategy for communicating with existing employers and potential investors. Our final tasks will include recruiting and training staff, and purchasing equipment.

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