Saudi Arabia and Qatar lead job creation in the Gulf

Posted on April 19, 2010

Logistics sector followed by Retail and Consumer Goods showed strongest growth. UAE recorded a fall in employment, but remains popular with expatriates.

Expatriates are more likely to secure a new job in Saudi Arabia than in any other country in the GCC, according to the latest employment data released by

The number of expatriate employees in the Kingdom rose by an estimated 2.4% in the fourth quarter of 2009, followed by Qatar with a 2.2% increase. Oman also showed a marginal rise, with a 0.3% growth.

The results are based on actual staff increases and decreases reported by 11,000 managers across the region, who participated in a survey by

Massive spending by the Saudi government on infrastructure projects has helped maintain economic activity during the global economic downturn, while growth in Qatar has been fueled by the country’s continued exploitation of its huge gas reserves, the third largest in the world.

Based on the survey results, Kuwait, UAE and Bahrain saw a drop in the number of expatriate employees during the fourth quarter, with declines of 2.8%, 4.2% and 7.7% respectively.

The UAE economy was hit hard last year by the slowdown in the real estate market and the virtual freeze in lending. Bahrain and Kuwait have been heavily impacted by the exposure of their banking and investment sectors.’s findings are consistent with trends in money transfers by expatriates. Based on official data and analyst estimates, outward remittances from Saudi Arabia increased by 12% in 2009 relative to the previous year, while remittances from the UAE fell by 15% over the same period.’s interviews with hiring managers found that the increased demand for staff in Saudi Arabia and Qatar was being satisfied by a combination of new recruitment, as well as staff relocations within the region, with companies moving large numbers of their employees from slower markets such as the UAE.

Sector Variations

The survey also shows that job prospects for expatriate employment in the GCC vary between sectors. Headcount in the logistics sector rose by 3.0% in the last quarter of 2009. The retail and consumer goods sector came in second place with overall headcount increasing by 2.6%.

In contrast, real estate and oil & gas were the fastest shrinking sectors, with headcount falls of 7.8% and 4.7% respectively.

In terms of job categories, the number of sales jobs expanded by 3.5%, possibly indicating growing market optimism, with companies bracing themselves for increased customer demand in 2010, the study reveals.

There was a decline in the number of expats employed in finance and administration roles, with net falls of 3.1% and 2.2% respectively, as firms continued to rationalize back office functions and seek efficiencies. Engineering jobs faced a net reduction of 2.6% as new project starts did not fully absorb all the engineers being released from recently completed projects.

Mobility Trends

Though overall headcount showed a net increase in several countries, all parts of the region witnessed some job cuts during the fourth quarter of 2009.

Based on’s findings, over half of those losing jobs were able to secure another job within the region, while around one-third returned to their home countries. The remainder either took up full-time education, started their own business, opted for retirement or continued to look for employment opportunities.

Among expatriate groups, Western nationals were most likely to return to their home countries upon loss of employment, with 55% doing so, compared with 37% of Asian expatriates and only 18% of Arab expatriates.

Qatar had the highest rate of redundant employees returning home at 54%, in part due to strict laws prohibiting employees from switching employers.

The UAE had the highest proportion of unemployed expatriates remaining within the country and continuing to look for jobs – reflecting both the challenging employment environment as well as the popularity of the country with expatriates, with many reluctant to leave.

Despite the uneven nature of employment prospects, survey participants in all six GCC countries expected to see a net increase in employment in 2010.

The survey was conducted by during February and March this year.

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Comments (12)

Anvar Sadath
Secretary | El-Badr Industrial Supplies | Saudi Arabia

Yes, above given details are exactly correct. This year (2010) many projects are going on in Saudi Arabia, like King Saud University Project in Riyadh and Makkah Metro Rail Projects etc. etc.

Posted on 03 Apr 2010

Ibrahim Al-Marhoon
Staff Process Engineer | Hadeed | Saudi Arabia

Don't you think that your report is focusing only on expatriate status?!

Posted on 04 Apr 2010

General Manager | Ramada Hotel | Bahrain

Very informative article, Some companies used the recession as reason to sack or reduce salary or delay salary payment of their staff, although recession has not affected their business much. Would like to know about the situation of hospitality and hotel industry in the region.

Posted on 04 Apr 2010

Executive Secretary to Manager | Saudi Arabia

Well, the information gathered seems to be really true in nature, as I find many Indian expats are re-employed within a month of their losing job in one company.

Besides, almost all the new recruitment in Saudi Arabia is for sales and marketing section.

Posted on 06 Apr 2010

Tarek Haddad
Retail Sales Manager | U-Mark | Saudi Arabia

Some countries within the GCC have a good environment through incentives for expatriates to start their own business, while some countries are still difficult for expatriate to do the same.

Saudi Arabia is the best country at the moment as it has had limited impact from the global crisis, due to the diversity of economic activities and strong financial planning.

More than before, mergers and acquisitions between companies are required, to reduce the cost of organizational structure and re-draw the roles for the companies staff.

I am working in the field of retail and distribution. There is no significant drop in this sector, although some of that is due to companies being still in growth phase and not having reached a mature level yet.

Posted on 07 Apr 2010

Abdul Rahim
Executive | Saudi Hollandi Bank | Saudi Arabia

Interesting article to read. Well done. Appreciate the GulfTalent team for making such a good study regarding jobs in gulf market. Keep it up.

Posted on 08 Apr 2010

Mohan Kumar
Managing Director | General LED | UAE

Very interesting report for all those who really wanted to understand what happened after the global financial crisis hit the Middle East market. Thank you for such wonderful report.

Posted on 09 Apr 2010

Finance Manager | SAAB Bank | Saudi Arabia

Please don't misguide people by saying that "During the fourth quarter of 2009, employment of expatriates increased significantly in Saudi Arabia and Qatar". To be very frank with all the readers, there is no such thing going on in Saudi Arabia; people are unemployed for more than a year here in Saudi, so I request you to stop playing with the future of young generation, by posting such news.

Posted on 12 Apr 2010

Ilyas Ahmed
Group H.R. Manager | Jacky's Electronics | UAE

Dear Gulf Talent Team, I have been going through your articles/surveys published regularly. Must commend, your Team is doing a great service, especially to the HR community in UAE. I find them highly researched, accurate and professionally done. This keeps us informed of the latest trends across core HR areas including Recruitment, Comp & Benefits and plan strategies. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

Posted on 16 Apr 2010

Anil Kumar
Chief Accountant | SPCC | Saudi Arabia

The article is interesting and near to fact. But I have a different opinion regarding your assessment criteria "Outward remittance". Increase/Decrease in expats remittance may not reflect exact situation. For example, decrease in remittance may be due to keeping money for investment purposes (gold etc.) or fluctuation of currencies.

Posted on 18 Apr 2010

Hemant Kumar Ravi
Assistant Manager-HR | Larsen & Toubro | UAE

t's been nice to receive regular updates and reports from GulfTalent. It helps us assess the Job Market, tune up our requirements, fix C&B structure and recommend suggestions to Top Management.

Keep up the good work!

Posted on 18 Apr 2010

secretary | should have to boost more employment for all | Saudi Arabia

Very good articles, people can oversee whats happening in GCC country about vacancies and employment.

Posted on 27 Apr 2013

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