Political instability in Tunisia and Egypt likely to discourage Western jobseekers in the Gulf

UK, 9 Feb 2011

Political turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia could deter Westerners from taking jobs in the Gulf, a recruitment agency has reported.

According to a report by Dubai-based recruitment company Gulf Talent, the political turmoil in Tunisia and Egypt is likely to have a negative impact on the number of Westerners taking jobs in the Gulf if it continues for much longer.

“Coverage of regional unrest in international media may deter professionals further afield, who tend to view the [Middle East] as one homogenous block and consider it unsafe to seek careers in a perceived ‘conflict zone’,” wrote the report's authors. “This may negatively impact recruitment from Western countries to the Gulf, as happened in 2003 in the immediate aftermath of the Iraq war.”

One human resources manager quoted in the report, which surveyed over 32,000 professionals and 1,400 companies in the six Gulf countries during December and January, said that it had become far “harder to hire some Western nationals” in the last month. "They think we live in a war zone," he said.

Anti-government protests first broke out in Tunisia in December, and culminated with Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali stepping down on January 14. Since then, tens of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets in Egypt demanding the removal of President Hosni Mubarak. It is possible that the wave of public protest could spread to yet more Middle Eastern countries, few of which currently operate as democracies.

The report added however that Gulf recruiters were likely to see an influx of non-Western talent into the market, as many Arab professionals in more turbulent areas might move to the relative safety of the Gulf states.