Career Hotspots for 2014: Part V – Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait & Saudi Arabia…
Focus on: Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait & Saudi Arabia
Move Your Career – Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait & Saudi Arabia…
In the past, the Middle East had been the scene of considerable unrest and conflict. Over time, though, the region has emerged as one of the most vibrant, safest and most lucrative places to live and work.
For expatriates planning to live anywhere in the Middle East, it is a good idea to learn standard Arabic. English will take care of all your professional needs, but true immersion in the culture is only possible when you know something of the local language too.
The wealthiest Emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the strongest contributor to the UAE’s total GDP, Abu Dhabi often offers lofty compensation packages for expats. Quotas for Emirati locals in the insurance, banking and trade sectors have made it more competitive for expats to find employment here; but there are plenty of opportunities for those who have adequate skills and training. The Emirate offers generous salaries, but only to those with specialised skills in the technical sectors or higher management.
With heavy reliance on natural resources, the petrochemical industry offers plenty of employment options. The trend will continue in 2014 with projected demand up in double digits, suggesting that there has never been a better time to enter the oil and gas industry in Abu Dhabi.
Newly emerging sectors include real estate, business services, and construction. Last year, many new projects were announced and with the trend expected to continue in 2014, demand for professionals in the construction sector has gone up substantially. Demand for construction engineers is up, so is demand for real estate professionals and business development managers.
As all sectors grow, banking and finance sectors will also perform well. Companies are continuing to face a talent shortage of accounting and finance professionals with a blend of solid education, experience and technical skills, supplemented with effective soft skills, including collaboration and communication capabilities.
Abu Dhabi has also developed a free-trade zone – the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi HCSEZ – which, in the past few years has attracted many large corporations, foreign investments and international companies to relocate their business. They have created lucrative jobs for foreign professionals with specialized knowledge and good language skills. Multinational companies and branch offices of foreign businesses are the top employers for expats.
Want to find out more about moving your career to Abu Dhabi? Read our ‘Middle East Jobs Market Update, 2014′ article and discover what opportunities are currently available in this exciting location!
With a population of around 620,000, the Kingdom of Bahrain is the smallest of the Gulf States. But the influence it flexes belies its humble size. Home to the Gulf’s largest ship repair yard – the Arabian Ship Repair Yard (ASRY) – employs a large workforce of local and foreign employees to cater to ships using the region’s busy oil routes.
Bahrain reigns supreme in the financial services industry in the Gulf region. Banks from all over the world have a branch office established in Bahrain – offering retail, investment, and off-shore operations. Manama, the nation’s capital, situated in the north of the main island is the centre of Islamic banking, making financial services the primary field of employment in the city. With operational control of as many as 200 international banks and financial institutions, the Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA) also oversees the Bahrain Stock Exchange since it opened in 1989.
Building on a centuries-old geostrategic advantage, Bahrain inadvertently became a popular destination. The flourishing tourism industry in the Arabian Peninsula has led to a natural openness and acceptance of foreigners working in the country. Bahrain prides itself on being the most liberal country in the Persian Gulf region.
Most expatriate workers are contracted either on a fixed-term contract for one year, or for a particular project. However, many sub-contracted expats stay on for a number of years.
Bahrain has remained largely insulated from international external risks and has weathered the global economic shocks of the recent past relatively well. At the height of the international financial downturn, the Kingdom avoided falling into recession and even achieved real GDP growth of more than 6% in 2008 and over 3% in 2009. The economy has weathered regional challenges including political unrest, earning confidence from several ratings agencies.
Want to find out more about moving your career to Bahrain? Read our ‘Middle East Jobs Market Update, 2014′ article and learn more about the current opportunities in Bahrain and other Middle Eastern countries.
With an estimated 6% of the world’s oil reserves, Kuwait is the third-largest oil producer in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia and Iraq. With estimated reserves of 90 billion barrels in the Burgan area alone, oil production and associated industries – refining, petrochemicals, polyethylene, polypropylene, fertilisers and other products – account for 90% of foreign earnings and nearly 75% of Kuwait’s GDP. Unquestionably, the expatriate workforce is concentrated in oil-related activities.
The nation, however, is pursuing economic diversification in the private sector with the Kuwait Development Plan. A 20-year program estimated at US $107 billion is underway for new transport networks, upgraded infrastructure, increased oil production, and improved services. These commercial developments will lead to strong demand for foreign workers with managerial, professional and technological experience. Expatriates with specialized skills will play a substantial role for the next two or three decades.
Although around two-thirds of the labour force is made up of foreign nationals, Kuwait almost exclusively authorizes expats only on a temporary basis. Foreigners cannot become citizens or own land and property. However, the rules are pliable with regard to owning one’s own business.
Foreign investments with 100% foreign ownership concession, no corporate taxes or currency restrictions, and the free movement of funds are largely contributing to a more diverse economy, and provide substantial advancement in technology and industry.
The manufacturing sector is also dominated by oil products and is mainly export-oriented. Engineers with skills relevant to the oil industry will easily find Kuwait a fulfilling career destination.
The fastest growing fields in the services sector have recently been real estate, business services, and finance. Expatriates of various skill levels in these sectors are welcomed with open arms in the country’s booming economy.
Kuwait also boasts a robust financial and banking sector. Commercial banks, owned by the government or wealthy trading families, are regulated by the Central Bank of Kuwait. Other financial institutions include the Arab Reinsurance Group (ARIG) which handles insurance for aviation and shipping sectors. Top-level executives with professional experience in the financial sector or in the fields of marketing, sales and business development are in high demand.
Want to find out more about moving your career to Kuwait? Read our article on ‘visa essentials for the Middle East – Kuwait’ to find out the latest information on visa applications for Kuwait.
One of the dominating forces of the Middle East region, the Saudi Kingdom is home to an estimated 16.1% of the world’s oil reserves. A sustained high level of oil prices and governmental drive towards large-scale investments in infrastructure and diversification, have propelled Saudi Arabia’s economy.
Thanks to the high levels of disposable income, a young and upwardly mobile population, AT Kearney, a management consultancy and research firm, perceives a significant market growth potential and an expanding tourism trade in Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom’s characteristic of stability has made it the top-most destination for foreign direct investment. This has been a harbinger of unprecedented growth in the region’s economy over the past few years.
Thanks to the shifting consumer preferences in recent times, a Q4 2013 report from Al Rajhi Capital, a Saudi investment firm, stated that the retail sector was one of the best performing areas of the Saudi economy, providing better ROI (return on investment) than both petrochemicals and agriculture. Sales in the retail sector increased by nearly 11% in 2013, giving impetus to large-scale development projects such as hypermarkets and shopping centers even beyond the major city centers.
International retail brands such as H&M, Burberry and Tesco are beginning to make inroads in the Kingdom. Analysts foresee the retail sector continuing to post solid returns and are anticipating decisive expansions in the medium-to-long term, along with a growing need to hire more trained and qualified staff.
While it is no longer easy, there are still plenty of opportunities for expatriates with high level of expertise and experience. There are a large number of jobs in:
- Engineering (particularly the oil industry)
- Information Technology
- Healthcare and medicine
- Banking and finance
- Teaching (especially for women)
- Urban planning
- Food processing
- Water management
- Transportation infrastructure
Foreign professionals with specialist skills and experience will find the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a lucrative destination for career growth. Not only are the salaries higher than for the same kind of work in Europe or in the US, the net income is tax-free as well.
Want to find out more about moving your career to Saudi Arabia? Read our ‘Bite-Sized Guide to Finding Work in Saudi Arabia’ and make your Saudi Arabian career move today!