From maternity leave to flexible working hours, it looks like the UAE government is going to start making changes to empower women in the workplace…

The UAE government has set up a committee to try and help empower women in the workforce in the country. One of the key things they will be reviewing very soon is the amount of paid maternity leave given to new mothers in the emirates.

When or in fact if the amount of maternity leave given to new mothers will increase hasn’t yet been announced, but the government is having the conversation, and we’ll definitely keep you updated.

They will also work to “create a better work environment for women” by establishing things like flexible working hours in government departments and encouraging companies to establish part-time positions.

The UAE has also set up a ‘Gender Balance Index’ which, in the government’s words, “reflects the UAE leadership’s vision to enhance the role of women across all sectors of society and ensure their effective participation in the country’s economic development”.


Currently fully paid maternity leave is six weeks in the UAE, while it’s 10 weeks in both Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. 

That said, if she has been working at a company for under a year, it may be granted only with half-pay.

“Employees fare better under the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Employment Law, where they are entitled to a minimum of 65 days maternity leave with full pay for the first 33 days and half-pay for the further 32 days,” says Nita Maru, of TWS Legal Consultants.

Here’s a guide to maternity leave around the world…


H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the chairman of the UAE Gender Balance Council, explained that the council “will take the necessary steps to ensure that men and women have equal opportunities to participate in the sustainable development of the UAE and to achieve the country’s vision in terms of gender balance on a local, regional and global level.”

The Gender Balance Council will aim to move the UAE to a more favourable ranking on the UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index so that the country becomes a global leader in gender equality.

The index uses maternal mortality, adolescent birth rate, share of seats in parliament, secondary education and ratio in the workplace to come to its conclusions.

In the list #1 is the most equal country, and #188 is the most inequal. In 2015 the UAE was 41st on the list out of 188 countries (surprisingly Saudi Arabia came in at 39).

The top 10 countries in 2015 were..
1. Norway
2. Australia
3. Switzerland
4. Denmark
5. Netherlands
6. Germany
7. Ireland
8. United States
9. Canada
10. New Zealand

The lowest ranking countries were Eritrea, Central African Republic and Niger.

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has set a goal for the UAE to become one of the world’s top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021.

The UAE Gender Balance Council will also work to…

– Develop legislations which help to achieve gender balance.

– Introduce flexible working hours and part-time shifts in government departments and companies.

– Oversee the implementation of recommendations in the work environment that support women.

– Sign collaboration and partnership agreements with international organisations and governments that have reached high levels of gender balance.

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