On Wednesday, April 3, 2013 Gonzalo Gaspar, Managing Director of the IE Dubai Office, gave a presentation to IE students about the employment and salary trends of the region, the current market, and tips for pursuing career options in the region.
Role of the IE Dubai Office
Gaspar explained that the primary functions of the office are to recruit students from the Gulf Area. In the last years the number of students and alumni in the region has grown exponentially, and this also means more alumni activities, that the office in Dubai coordinates with the local UAE Alumni Club. So far they have had 8 professors visit this academic year, and the masters classes have proven to challenging, engaging, and timely.
Countries Covered by the IE Dubai Office
These countries all offer growing incomes, tax free economies, and environment where English is spoken as the dominant language, and offer safe and stable living and working environments.
The Current Market
Gaspar explained that the market is in flux, with little inflation, enjoying minimum salary increases of 3-4% during 2012-2013. IT and HR industries enjoyed the highest wage hikes (+7.5%), while banking and real estate have the lowest wage increases. While there are many career opportunities, Europeans are flooding the region, feeding into the laws of supply and demand. However, the economic situation in the Gulf Region is stronger than Europe´s.
Nationalization in the Gulf Region
While there is a large population of expats, many regional companies need to comply with local laws that mandate a certain number of locals working within the private sectors. Nationalism within all the areas is prominent, and “Saudization” and “Omanization” are two of the more extreme examples. However, salaries in the public sector are higher, and thus the nationalism rates in the private sectors tend to be quite low, providing non-nationals with more opportunities.
Job Creation in the Gulf Region
The flux market in the region creates growing job creation. Saudi Arabia had a 60% increase in companies that have recruited staff in the last year, while this percentage in Qatar was 51% and 37% in the UAE. Oil and gas, retail and health sectors have had the largest job growth, while banking and construction have the lowest.
Gaspar says that the UAE is the most popular place for expats. Everyone hopes to work there, and, more specifically, in Dubai. Traveling and commuting within the region is common, which is why despite its population of 2 million people, Dubai has the 3rd busiest airport in the world.
Overview of each country
United Arab Emirates
It has low inflation, stability, and a high living standard. It is the most popular destination for job seekers, and because of its stability, is seen as a safe haven for tourism and businesses. Because it is so popular with foreigners, the salaries are static.
The Kingdom offers the highest population and its oil and energies business makes it the driver of Middle Eastern recruitment. There is a current trend of manufacturers opening separate business units in the Kingdom, creating job growth. However, it is not a popular destination for most expats, so while salaries are increasing the expat population is decreasing. This decrease is also related to the Kingdom’s goals of Saudization (see Nationalism in the Gulf Region).
Qatar has strict laws against mobility. If you decide to leave your job or are fired, you must leave the country before you can find another position within Qatar. Because of this, there is a constant flow of people, and thus lots of job opportunities. Due to the strict laws, premiums are paid and job seekers are offered better packages. Government spending continues, and Gaspar says that further construction within the country, while it hasn´t happened yet, will happen.
Kuwait offers a stable workforce and medium-level pay, however it is not a popular destination for expats and government spending is less common than in other regions.
Oman is less popular than other regions, with Omanization creating less opportunity for non-locals and lower salaries in the private sector.
Bahrain has the lowest salary growth, little to no job creation, and political tensions. Many expats currently located there are trying to move to the UAE.
A study that Gaspar references in his talk states that nearly half of the employees in the region (49%) dislike their bosses. This could be due to cultural differences, and this should be taken into consideration by job seekers.
Tips from Gaspar
Gaspar stated that recruiters and headhunters want to see a strong interest and willingness to commit to the region. As such, make sure your CV is up to date, and provide a local address, phone number and P.O. Box. Commitment and motivation to work in the region are key to finding a position; obviously recruiters and headhunters are searching for hard-working, talented individuals who are interested in staying in the area for the long term. Gaspar’s take away point was: if you want to work in the region, set up some contacts (which his office can help you with) and GO! Headhunters and recruiters will take you much more seriously if you are local, it shows your dedication, and visas for Westerners are very easy to organize; they´re often bought in the airport of the country and a tourist visa is easily turned into a work visa.
Put yourself in contact with the IE Dubai Office, network with IE alumni in the region (of whom there are 125 total, a huge amount for such a small population, working in nearly every major company), and plan a trip to the region. Be careful to avoid going during high holidays (Ramadan in 2013 is from July 9 to August 7) in order to make the most of your visit.