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About UAE

UAE EMPLOYMENT LANDSCAPE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has long been the commercial and business hub of the Middle East. It has developed a leading role in finance and created a logistics hub between east and west. It is also home to the busiest man-made port in the world, Jebel Ali. The UAE as recently upgraded from “frontier” to “emerging market. Despite the continuing volatility in the region, the UAE, with almost no corporate taxes, no income taxes and a relatively low import duty of five percent, remains a favorite of multinational companies, expats and would-be expats. As its economic recovery from the global recession gains strength and its stability remains intact, business confidence in the UAE is slowly improving, which should help accelerate economic activity and with it, employment. Winning Expo 2020 has created more prospects.

Job Growth Areas

Experts predict oil and gas production will remain the backbone of the UAE economy for years to come. While this is true, the non-oil sector of the economy is expanding rapidly. Major growth areas include aircraft and parts, security and safety equipment; IT equipment and services; medical equipment, services and supplies; architecture, construction and engineering services; building products; air conditioning and refrigeration equipment; and environmental and pollution control equipment. Because of the UAE’s increasing demand for water and electricity, water and power projects continue to offer opportunities for growth.

Nearly 60 percent of businesses in the UAE are looking to hire at managerial and professional levels, up from 46 percent in the first quarter of the year. Sixty-eight percent of companies also expect to hire staff for various middle and senior-level positions in the near future.

The surge in demand comes at a time when a growing number of Emirati university graduates are entering the job market. About 330,000 nationals are already part of the labor force, and their ranks are projected to grow to about 450,000 by 2020. By 2050, that figure is expected to be about 600,000, according to data from Towers Watson, a human resources consultancy.

Sought-After Degrees and Job Skills

A recent Middle East Job Index Survey found those with a degree in business or engineering-related fields have an edge over other jobseekers in the region. Twenty-seven percent of employers in the UAE are looking to fill positions with graduates and postgraduates in business management, and 26 percent would like to see engineering graduates and postgraduates join their organization. The survey found that commerce degree holders are also in demand, with 22 percent of companies seeking them to fill positions. Least sought after by UAE employers are candidates with qualifications in hospitality, teaching, psychology, social science, statistics and law. Applicants who speak both English and Arabic are being sought after by a majority of employers.

While the job index indicates that graduates with certain degrees and Arabic-English speaking skills are in high demand, employers look beyond formal qualifications when recruiting a new member of the team. Experience and professional achievements are considered when seeking the right employee.

Employers in the region also consider interpersonal, teamwork and leadership skills when sizing up applicants. Forty-seven percent of UAE employers are looking for candidates with good leadership skills and the ability to work under pressure. UAE employers expect candidates to have excellent managerial skills and the ability to manage a team; they also consider computer skills and administrative skills as important.

The Need for an Expat Workforce

Though the employment market in the UAE will continue its gradual recovery, one factor that could impact the country’s employment market is the fact that there are twice as many jobs as there are nationals of working age. As a result, the UAE hosts a large expatriate workforce. Although it has a population of approximately 8.2 million, almost three-fourths of UAE inhabitants between the ages of 15 and 64 are non-national. Only about 7 percent of the UAE’s private sector workforce is Emirati. Expatriates working in the private sector numbered 3.8 million last year.

Emiratisation

Emiratisation’ is the UAE government’s initiative to employ its citizens in a meaningful way in the public and private sectors and empower them to run the country. It is a key government priority. An estimated 200,000 Emiratis will reach working age in the next decade, and at least 100,000 of them will enter the job market

The Future for the UAE

The UAE is viewed as somewhat of a safe haven during these uncertain times, especially since “its growth prospects have been enhanced as a result of the associated surge in oil prices and increase in production to help offset the loss of Libyan crude.”

In addition to businesses, many expatriates from troubled countries across North Africa and South Asia view the UAE as a sanctuary.

While there is certainty that Expo 2020 is bringing big prospects to UAE, its economic recovery is definitely going steady. This recovery reaches all of its major cities, sectors and far corners, and that impact is felt throughout the UAE. Hiring is increasing, and in many sectors that trend will continue for the foreseeable future.

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