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Home > In Focus
 
Generous job market sees expats flocking to Dubai

Sarah Young / 27 March 2013

The global recession is bringing job seekers to Dubai, and while it may not be the land of milk and honey it once was, pay packets still compare favourably to many other parts of the world.

Commercial manager of recruitment firm BAC Middle East, Cliff Single, said expatriate job seekers were coming from almost every corner of the world, with the most common nationalities from GCC countries, followed by South East Asia and then the UK.

“Dubai is very much an international market now ... it’s often viewed as somewhere like Shanghai, London or New York.”

There were growing numbers from the rest of Europe compared to a few years ago, reflecting the impact the European situation was having in terms of people looking (for jobs) abroad, he said.

Examples included Portugal, which had a disproportionately high amount of job seekers using the BAC ME website considering the size of its population, and Greece too. And this was despite salary packages not increasing much over the past few years.

“If you look at 2007 and 2008 there was a lot of scope for negotiation with packages and offers — there’s a lot less scope for that now ... budgets are being set and adhered to much more strictly. Packages in general are still fairly flat, I’m not seeing ‘above inflation’ increases.

“However, even though Dubai may not be seeing big salary increases, it still is comparing reasonably well to other parts of the world facing economic challenges.”

 

And while the market had definitely been more challenging for job seekers since 2009, with companies less keen to expand head-counts and employees holding on to their jobs, the number of job vacancies had increased over the past couple of months and the market was probably more buoyant than it had been for nine or ten months, Single said.

Single did not think Emiratisation had impacted majorly on the chances of expat job seekers: “Generally speaking, the business sector here has a lot more momentum and growth than a lot of other parts of the world. Even though more Emiratis are coming into the private sector, the private sector is still growing anyway, so there’s still enough opportunities for everyone.”

However, companies were still being very cautious and rigourous in their selection processes, he said.

Vice president of sales at job site Bayt.com Suhail Masri said the GCC’s broad mass appeal as a world-class destination to live and work was only increasing, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi ranked first and second as the best places to live in the Mena region.

The UAE and other GCC countries were faring better compared to countries of other regions such as the Levant or North Africa, which could mean more professionals from those areas would seek jobs here in the near future.

While this month’s Consumer Confidence Index showed only 21 per cent of Mena professionals thought the regional economic situation was better than it was six months ago, and 44 per cent stated it had gotten worse, more than half of UAE respondents expected their personal finances to get better in the next six months.

The job market was also “looking positive”, with a regional increase in the number of jobs available recently, and hiring numbers this quarter two per cent higher than quarter three in 2012, Masri said.

A January Job Index Survey showed 67 per cent of Mena employers planned to hire in 2013, with multinational private sector companies hiring the most over the next three months. The biggest demand was for junior executive professionals, followed by executives and coordinators, and the most in-demand graduates were from business management, followed by commerce, engineering and computer science, he said.

Editor of expatwoman.com, Gail Livingstone-Potter, said many coming here are just happy to have a job. While they had a large majority of members from the UK, Australia, South Africa and India, there had also recently been a rise in the number of Filipinos, expat Arabs and particularly Lebanese women.

The average age had also become younger, now 25, compared to 35 five years ago.

sarah@khaleejtimes.com

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