UAE Cabinet approves biofuel production policy, passport validity extension

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The UAE Cabinet on Monday approved a national policy for biofuel production and reviewed the latest developments in the country's labour market and industrial sector.

This was announced on Monday during a UAE Cabinet meeting that was chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The National Policy on Biofuels aims to develop regulations to oversee distribution, establish standards governing production and implement criteria and mandates for production within the country. It also looks into organising the biofuel trading activities in the country by standardising specifications, managing production and trading, and contributing to environmental protection and public health.

The Cabinet also approved the extension of the UAE passport's validity period from five to 10 years for individuals aged 21 and above.

It also shut down 160,000 websites and social media accounts to protect the nation's youth. The accounts were found to "promote drugs and other illicit activities," the UAE Council for Digital Wellbeing announced.

The UAE Cabinet also reviewed the major advancements in the country’s labour market, highlighting how the UAE has topped global rankings in the Global Competitiveness Report and the Prosperity Index, and secured the third highest position in the digital skills report.

It also approved a new structure for the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, including setting up a coordinating council for the labour market in the UAE. "The workforce is the real engine of the economy, and monitoring their concerns and protecting their rights are essential elements for advancing our national economy," Sheikh Mohammed added.

A new National Digital Accessibility Policy to enhance efficiency and inclusivity was announced, with special focus on leveraging modern technologies such as AI and digital transactions.

The contribution of the industrial sector to the GDP in 2023 amounted to AED 197 billion, reflecting a growth rate of 49 per cent compared to 2020. Industrial exports reached around AED 187 billion in 2023, with a growth rate of 61 per cent compared to 2020.

"The advancement of the industrial sector is a national priority. We are overseeing its progress by providing a variety of incentives to stimulate its growth," Sheikh Mohammed added.

The nation’s economic sector recorded a growth rate of 5.9 per cent for the first nine months of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022. The Cabinet reviewed the economic results achieved thanks to the joint efforts of the Economic Integration Committee, and the national Economic Development departments along with the relevant economic departments within the local governments.

Health insurance for private sector, domestic workers

All private sector firms in the UAE must provide health insurance for workers, according to the UAE Cabinet decision. It will also cover domestic workers who do not have existing health insurance coverage. Employers will have to pay for the health coverage of their registered workers while issuing or renewing their residency permits. It will come into effect from January 2025. 

Establishing Coordinating Council for Labour Market

The new Coordinating Council for Labour Market will be responsible for reviewing legislations, strategies and initiatives related to private sector companies, as well as their registered workforce. It also approved the restructuring of the Emirates Tourism Council for a period of three years and the restructuring of the Board of Directors of the National Institute for Health Specialties.

Federal to pay for 'Hassantuk' fire safety systems 

So far, the Hassantuk e-alert fire safety system has been installed in 14,470 households in the UAE receiving social assistance, at a total cost of AED 105.9 million, with the Cabinet approving the federal government to cover the subscription costs for both new and existing households. 

Approving six international agreements

The UAE Cabinet approved two international agreements of comprehensive economic partnership with Serbia and Georgia, respectively. It also approved an agreement with the Czech Republic, to eliminate double taxation on income and to prevent tax evasion. Three agreements were inked with Vietnam, regarding the extradition of criminals and transfer of those convicted of crimes.

The amendment to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) agreement on the removal of loans and financing restrictions and the establishment of an embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and a consulate general in Scotland's Edinburgh were also approved.

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