This article examines the provision of post-secondary vocational education in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It aims to explore the role of vocational education in supporting the national human resource development strategy and to identify the economic, social, cultural and political factors that impact upon the implementation of vocational education in the UAE. As a case study, Dubai Polytechnic is considered as an example of a private sector provider of vocational higher education. It is concluded that vocational education has played a significant role in supporting the government's policy of emiratisation, which aims to increase the proportion of nationals participating in the labour force by replacing expatriate workers. It is recognised that all educational institutions have been influenced by a unique set of social and cultural factors, and in addition, private sector institutions have been considerably hindered by a number of political and economic constraints.