Emirates Group and Unilever top the list of most popular graduate employers in the UAE

Posted on September 27, 2016

  • Interesting work, training and brand reputation key attraction factors for graduates

  • Starting salary expectations of expatriate graduates AED 9,000 per month, compared with AED 27,000 for Emirati graduates from the same university

Dubai-based airline Emirates Group, is the most popular employer for fresh university graduates in the UAE, followed by international consumer goods company Unilever, according to the latest research by GulfTalent.

The findings are based on GulfTalent’s survey of over 300 recent graduates and final-year students at UAE’s prestigious American University of Sharjah (AUS), which hosts a mix of both expatriate and local students from all Emirates.

Top 20 Most Popular Employers for Graduates in UAE
  1. Emirates Group
  2. Unilever
  3. Chalhoub Group
  4. General Electric
  5. Nestlé
  6. ADNOC
  7. Petrofac
  8. PwC
  9. Procter & Gamble
  10. Etihad
  1. Schlumberger
  2. AECOM
  3. Emaar
  4. Leo Burnett
  5. MBC Group
  6. Deloitte
  7. IBM
  8. Atkins
  9. L’Oreal
  10. Bee’ah
Source: GulfTalent Survey


According to the survey results, construction and finance are the most popular sectors for graduates, followed by consumer goods. The complete list of top-40 employers can be found in the full report.

The survey found a sharp divide in preferences by nationality. Among expatriate graduates an overwhelming 91% majority favour working for multinationals. By contrast, 63% of Emirati graduates opt for government-owned organisations.

Local UAE private sector firms appear to be the least desired option for both nationals and expatriates, the survey found.

ADNOC, Mubadala and Etisalat were voted the most popular employers among UAE national graduates.

Top 10 Most Popular Employers
for Emirati Graduates
  1. ADNOC
  2. Mubadala
  3. Etisalat
  4. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)
  5. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA)
  6. Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA)
  7. Emaar
  8. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC)
  9. United Nations
  10. Masdar
Source: GulfTalent Survey


Key Attraction Factors

GulfTalent’s survey asked graduates about the factors that drove them to choose their preferred employer. The top three factors mentioned were the opportunity to do interesting and challenging work, the quality of the training and development programme, and the company’s brand and reputation.

Interestingly, salary and benefits only ranked 4th in the key attraction factors.

However, the survey did find a significant gap in the expectations of graduates for their starting salary – with salary expectations of Emirati graduate averaging AED 27,000 per month, compared with AED 9,000 for expatriate graduates.

Overseas experience is also highly valued by graduates. One in two graduates expressed interest in gaining experience working outside the UAE and were drawn to the employers that offered this opportunity. According to the survey, the most popular country overall for graduates in the UAE to live and work in is the USA, followed by the UK and Canada – among both local and expatriate graduates.

Employment Success Rate

33% of Emirati graduates surveyed reported already having a job offer prior to graduation, compared with 18% of expats.

When asked what they thought were the key factors for employers selecting graduates, the most important factor cited was work experience. Expatriate graduates, in particular, reported finding it very challenging to land an entry-level job without already holding 1-2 years of experience.

In relative terms, Emirati graduates considered command of English language to contribute far more to their chances of finding employment, compared with expatriates who did not consider it a big factor for employers.

When asked about their ideal next steps after graduation, 67% of respondents said they wished to start a job, followed by 27% who wanted to continue further study, 2% who planned to join their family business and 4% who aim to start up on their own.

Additional information and insights about employment preferences of UAE graduates can be found in the full report.

Survey Methodology

GulfTalent’s study was based on a survey of 303 recent graduates and final-year students from American University of Sharjah (AUS). The survey was conducted during June 2016. For ranking employers, each survey participant was asked to name their top 3 choices, without being presented with a pre-compiled list of choices. Employers were ranked based on the number of votes they received.



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