UAE stays favorite country among Gulf nations

UAE, 10 Apr 2012

DUBAI - The UAE remains favourite country among Gulf nations for attracting expatriate talent and the region continues to create jobs despite Arab Spring in 2011, according to a latest survey findings.

The UAE strengthened its position as the most popular destination among Gulf-based expatriates, with Dubai overwhelmingly remaining the most attractive city, according to the survey by Dubai-based online recruitment firm, GulfTalent.

Qatar also joined the club of prime destinations for expatriates in the survey, according to the 2012 edition of "Employment and Salary Trends in the Gulf" released on Monday by the recruitment firm. Hit by domestic unrest, Bahrain dropped from 4th place to become the Gulf's least attractive destination for expatriates in 2011, behind Kuwait and Oman.

The survey shows that Saudi Arabia is the leader in job creation, thanks to its strong economic growth and massive government investment. Some 62 per cent of firms increased their head count last year compared with 55 per cent in 2010, the survey shows. Next was Oman, where 56 per cent of firms created new jobs, 1 per cent down on the previous year.

Qatar also saw 51 per cent of employers creating new jobs, reflecting the continued strength of the Qatari economy. In Kuwait, the percentage of firms that created new jobs in 2011 more than doubled compared to 2010, rising by 26 per cent to reach 51 per cent. Over the same period, the UAE also saw the number of firms creating new jobs jump by 15 per cent to reach 37 per cent.

The GulfTalent survey also revealed that Dubai's share of regional recruitment activity has started to increase after two years of slowdown, due to a combination of jobs growth and churn.

In Bahrain, however, severe political tensions continue to negatively impact the job market. According to GulfTalent, only 8 per cent of firms reported any new jobs being created last year, down from 23 per cent in 2010.

The survey highlights that the oil and gas, healthcare and retail sectors are enjoying the largest head count expansion, while banking and construction fare the worst. The study also shows that, as a result of Western countries facing high unemployment and low pay rises, employers in the Gulf are finding it easier to hire Western nationals rather than Asian candidates.

However, according to interview findings, some employers are facing difficulty attracting Western candidates because they perceive the region to be unsafe, following widespread media coverage of the Arab Spring.

This year's survey also highlights the fact that governments across the region are making the nationalisation of expatriate jobs a top priority and are embracing various schemes to do this. The survey noted that more innovative approaches are now being tried in some Gulf countries, introducing elements of choice, competition and commercial incentive.

Across the GCC, average private sector salary increase has remained stable but much lower than pre-recession levels, according to GulfTalent. Oman saw the highest salary increase in 2011 (6.5 per cent) p. Saudi Arabia and Qatar saw increases of 6 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively.