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United Arab Emirates: Equal opportunities

Original and updating author: Samir Kantaria, Al Tamimi & Company

Consultant editor: Luke Tapp, Pinsent Masons

See the legal services provided by the authors/consultant editors of XpertHR International > United Arab Emirates, including any discounts/offers for subscribers.


  • In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) generally, other than a law that encourages the employment of individuals with disabilities and a general prohibition on discrimination that would "prejudice equal opportunity employment", there are no specific laws on equal opportunities or non-discrimination in employment, with the exception of the Abu Dhabi Media Zone (TwoFour54), while in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) legislation provides that an employer must not discriminate against an employee regarding employment or any term or condition of employment on specified grounds. (See General)
  • In the DIFC and ADGM, an employer may justify discrimination on the prohibited grounds where there is a "bona fide occupational requirement". (See Exemptions)
  • In the UAE generally, there are no specific provisions protecting employees from sexual or other harassment at work, while in the DIFC and the ADGM employers are under a general statutory duty to provide and maintain a workplace that is free of harassment, safe and without risks to employees' health. (See Harassment and sexual harassment)
  • In the UAE generally, employment legislation provides for positive discrimination in favour of UAE nationals, while in the free zones, the DIFC and the ADGM there is no such requirement. (See Positive action)
  • In the UAE generally, there is no express statutory remedy or penalty for discrimination at work, while in the DIFC and the ADGM an employee may bring a claim for damages under the non-discrimination and harassment provisions of the DIFC Employment Law or ADGM Employment Law as applicable. (See Remedies and penalties)