Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: These UAE expats found a job during the pandemic Filed on May 23, 2021

The UAE created 248K jobs in 2020, even as many countries were battling economic slowdown.

The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed many lives as well as jobs across the world. Even the most resilient economies were brought to their knees by the virus.

But amid all the sob stories, there have also been some stories of hope, stories of UAE residents turning career-lucky and finding new jobs in the midst of the pandemic.

The UAE managed to create 248K jobs in 2020, even as many countries were battling economic slowdown, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced on Saturday. The fruits of the successful strategy in fighting the Covid and resuming business activities in phases were reaped by many expats who were laid-off during the pandemic, or were looking for better opportunities.

Marina Ilic, 31 from Serbia is one such expat who got a break in 2020. “I joined Heriot-Watt University in July 2020, bang in the middle of the pandemic. I was shortlisted and interviewed virtually, and started my job remotely, all of which made for a very unique experience,” said Ilic.

After spending seven years in the oil and energy industry, she said she “strongly felt that it was time to explore a different industry.”

“I always had an eye for the education sector, especially having grown up in Oman and later the UAE, both countries which are home to many prestigious international schools and universities with world class facilities.”

Illic said her job search “wasn’t easy, but it was not difficult either.

“After having made a decision to move on from my previous role, I reached out to a number of contacts and browsed through LinkedIn job ads. Having had an interest in the education sector, I stumbled upon a couple of job posts at Heriot-Watt and reached out to the regional director, who responded to my message promptly. A couple of weeks later, the HR team reached out to me and after a series of interviews, I was granted a job at the university.”

Karen Lobo, 24, a PR professional from India was laid off last April by a PR company. “I was on six-months probation, and the company did not confirm the position. I was on the lookout for a few months and it was a very difficult period as I least expected that I will be back in the job market,” said Lobo.

She said she was lucky to have landed a job during the pandemic. “The PR industry is bustling again and there are lot of hirings that are happening.”

After her short experience with job search, Lobo said her advice for the job seekers out there is to “hang on and the right opportunity will knock at the door sooner or later.”

Ronn Kevin Santos, a Filipino engineer and IT systems analyst said he kept sending applications, particularly on LinkedIn, hoping to land his next big break.

“While I did a couple of interviews over the last year, I have observed that more recruiters and HR execs were responding to applications in recent months. Finally, I got a job offer. This week, I’ll start my new job as a business technology officer for a fast-food chain that’s looking to expand, streamline and innovate their operations across the region,” said Santos.

He said there are lots of opportunities in the field of technology.

“For those looking for jobs in the sector, this is a good time to upskill. Learn the skills that are in demand, like software engineering and data analytics. There are a lot of online resources out there. Universities have also opened full courses that one can take online. I am in fact doing my master’s in data science virtually,” he added.

Another success story is of Maryam Usman Danagege, 32 from Nigeria. After resigning her job as a Senior PR executive, she was hired by Acorn Strategy in April 2021. In fact, the job search wasn’t difficult at all. I was referred to Acorn Strategy by a friend of mine a year and a half ago and I have been in touch with the team ever since. She says job seekers in the UAE should have a niche, and specialise in a specific field.

“Update your LinkedIn regularly and connect with people. Expand your circle and socialise. Sometimes your next job is a casual enquiry about a job role,” said Danagege.


Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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