The Middle East Jobs Market Update: 2014

The Middle East Jobs Market Update: 2014

It is 2014 and, as before, countries in the Middle East continue to offer good opportunities for professionals seeking a richer living and work experience. Apart from high standards of living, these countries offer conducive workplace conditions and are a melting pot to interact with professionals from around the world.  This year, as companies struggle to keep their most valued employees on board, counteroffers are common and reflect the challenges of recruiting new talent.

Supported by continued high oil prices and increased government investments in regional infrastructure, the economies of the Middle East are growing at a healthy pace. The region is increasingly gaining international prominence as Qatar and the UAE get ready to host large-scale international events early in the next decade.

All this has led to optimism and growth in the job market for experienced professionals. Companies struggle to find local talent and often turn to expatriates to fill critical roles for niche specialists with the requisite skills and experience needed to deliver growth.

Best place(s) to be

The 2014 edition of Employment and Salary Trends in the Gulf saw Saudi Arabia emerge the leader in job creation, followed by the UAE and Kuwait.

Dubai is a big growth driver within the UAE. Dubbed the ‘City of Gold’, Dubai’s lucrative business environment has propelled its economy and growth like no other. Each month, approximately 20 new international companies establish their branches in Dubai. They also offer higher salaries to attract skilled professionals from around the world. Working in Dubai, you will earn around 25% more than anywhere else in the world, thanks to their tax-free salary policy.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE, Middle East

Abu Dhabi is the second largest – and the wealthiest – Emirate in the UAE, with the highest income per capita. The capital of UAE is attracting expats with benefits such as 30-day annual leave and free annual flights back to your home country. This is in addition to access to free healthcare or private medical insurance.

Apart from these locations, in Q1 of 2014, Doha has been rated one of the most competitive cities in the Middle East. Famous for its Information Technology (IT) and Property Development industries, the capital of Qatar is where you can fast-track your career. Depending on your job performance, businesses are known to increase salaries as often as every six months.


Making the move to a new location requires a well thought out job hunt strategy. One of the best online professional networking and job hunting tools available to you is LinkedIn. Learn more by reading ‘How to Use LinkedIn For An International Job Hunt‘.


Best companies to work for

Logistics firm DHL topped the list of the best places to work in 2014, as ranked by Great Place to Work Institute, UAE. DHL put significant effort into refining its employee value proposition, focusing on developing DHL staff in terms of growth, impact and pride.

Microsoft, which topped the list in 2013, came second while Omnicom Media Group rounded up the top three. This annual benchmarking study assesses the level of credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie within the organizations.

Business people in a meeting

Ericsson moved up two spots to claim fourth place, while THE One, the top local company in UAE came up in the top five. FedEx Express, Marriott, Bayt, Weber Shandwick and EMC held ranks from sixth to 10th place on the list.


Catching the attention of an international headhunter or recruiter can make all the difference in making your desired career move. Read our article, ‘5 Ways to Get Headhunters to Come to You‘ and learn more!


Salary growth 

According to GulfTalent, 2014 will be a year of stronger employment growth and higher salary rises. Arab expatriate salaries have increased by 5.31%, reaching $11,117 per month in the 2014 survey – compared to $10,556 per month last year. These salary increases are higher than in 2013, but continue to be below the levels seen before the global meltdown of 2008.

Data released by the UK’s Spinnaker Consulting shows that workers in the maritime industry in the Middle East will receive the highest pay hikes in 2014. With projected pay reviews of as much as 8.5%, shipping salary inflation appears to be exceeding all other sectors – for which the projected increases are around 5.5%.

A survey published by RICS and Macdonald & Company shows that average salaries in the real estate sector in Q1 2014 have grown, and are at AED 40,000 (US $10,890) per month.

Employees in Oman are expected to enjoy an average salary raise of 8%. Saudi Arabia is second highest with projected salary increase of 6.8%, followed by Qatar at 6.7% and UAE at 5.9%. The Middle East region’s lowest salary increase forecast comes from Kuwait and Bahrain, projected at 5.8% and 3.9% respectively.

Sectors/ skills in demand

The boost in the real estate sector has paved the way for hiring talent in construction. Many multinational firms in the GCC are increasing headcount for key initiatives.

Couple arriving in a hotel

The hospitality and retail industry will dominate job growth across the Middle East in 2014. 61% companies in the hospitality sector are planning to increase their headcount this year. Rapid population growth and increased penetration of retail outlets in remote locations has boosted the retail sector too, which will drive 57% of firms to create jobs in retail.

What to expect

More companies across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region are expected to increase their headcounts in 2014 compared with last year.

The momentum in execution of major infrastructure projects has resulted in positive developments – 75% of companies in Qatar will create jobs this year, partly in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. 63% companies in Saudi Arabia and 57% companies in the UAE are looking to create new jobs. Even Bahrain has projected that 30% of companies there will increase their headcount, compared with only 9% in 2013.

In Q1 2014, the UAE will further strengthen its position as the prime destination for expatriates in the GCC. Host of the 2020 World Expo, UAE’s stability is a valued asset for expatriates, making Dubai and Abu Dhabi the Middle East region’s most attractive destinations to live and work.

Train (metro) in Dubai, UAE

Confidence in the Middle East is riding high, and this, more than anything else, dictates how comfortable employers will be when it comes to providing for higher wages and benefits.

Make sure you attract the attention of international recruiters and key decision makers by reading our article, ‘7 Ways to Optimise Your Online Profiles for International Recruiters‘ and ensure you don’t miss your next international career opportunity!




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