UAE tightens rules for Ugandan workers

Travelers board the Air Arabia inaugural flight from Entebbe International Airport to Sharjah International Airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on October 10, 2021. PHOTO/PAUL ADUDE

What you need to know:

  • Annual remittances from the sand dunes country average $200m (Shs770b).

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has introduced a new requirement of all incoming migrant workers from Uganda to present police clearance certificates/certificates of good conduct effective next Thursday.

UAE first introduced the prerequisite of police clearance certificates appended to new work visa applications in February 2018 but Uganda migrant workers were excluded. The rule provided that migrant workers must provide the certificates from home countries and from any other country where the applicant has resided during the last five years.

However, to ease visa processing for migrant workers needed in abundance, the rule was frozen in April that year for first-time applicants and for existing foreign workers changing jobs already inside the country.
Uganda’s Deputy Ambassador to Abu Dhabi Henry Mayega told Monitor yesterday that all countries change their rules from time to time.

“The rules and regulations that apply keep changing, so things keep changing,” Mr Mayega said, adding that the new requirement will only apply to new migrant workers.

The requirement, he added: “Only applies to those seeking employment.”

The Middle East country is a spellbinding destination for thousands of Ugandans unable to find meaningful employment at home. Uganda’s Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate in Dubai estimate there are about 10,000 Ugandans spread across the Emirates.

Annual remittances from the sand dunes country average $200m (Shs770b).
Ambassador Mayega said yesterday they had been notified by the Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation about the new guidelines.

The UAE is deemed a good trading partner for Uganda. It is the link between Uganda and the Middle-East, and an important centre for Ugandan exports destined for the Americas and Europe, as well as for Asia, specially, Japan and China.

A recent Ministry of Gender report for the period 2016 and part of 2022 detailed that an average of 24,086 Ugandans leave Uganda annually in search of employment, especially to the Middle East. 

Acquiring of a police certificate from Interpol headquarters in Kampala, even after the process was shifted online to speed up the process and weed out middle men including fraudsters, remains a tedious exercise.

Popular destination 

During the period Saudi Arabia remained the choice destination for many Ugandans searching for employment with the country taking a total of 126,873, which represents at least 75.2 percent of total migrant workers in the Middle East, followed by UAE with in 19,671 workers followed by Qatar with an intake of 8,089.

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