Your Bite-Sized Guide to Finding Work in the Middle East
Thinking about taking the leap to move to the Middle East? Take a look at this concise guide of what to expect to find and how to find work. Make your Middle Eastern dream a reality!
Whilst many people may only think of Oil & Gas when they think of industries in the region there are however many ambitious projects going on in other industries, so the time has never been better for finding work.
There is a particular demand for talent to assist in enlarging and enhancing infrastructure across several metropolises. These include prominent locations such as Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh. To meet this rapid growth, there will demand for engineering and construction professionals for years to come; this will include jobs in town planning, project management, construction management, and every form of engineering.
Opportunities in the Middle East offer foreign workers a taste of Arabic culture as well as a chance to explore a vibrant society. Many locations, such as Dubai, offer a safe and welcoming location for expatriates.
Something unexpected to prepare for is the vast gap in the gender ratio. In many larger cities, the population is predominantly male; in Dubai for instance, females account for only one-fifth of residents. Much of this has to do with the fact that key industries attracting workers, such as construction, engineering, finance and Information Technology, tend to be male-dominated disciplines.
The dominant language in the region is of course Arabic. However, due to the development of big business and the growth of the region’s expatriate community, English is frequently spoken across the region. Other common languages include Farsi, Hindi, Urdu, and Turkish.
Most firms conduct business on a Sunday to Thursday work week. This is because Friday is recognized as a day of rest in the Islamic faith. It is also common to work less hours during the September Ramadan; this is the Islamic Holy month during which Muslims are obliged to fast between dawn and dusk. Frequently, companies only operate for around six hours a day during this time.
There is a shortage of experienced nationals in the Middle Eastern economy; this at one time meant that there were plenty of opportunities to find positions. However, between economic reform initiatives- to hire more nationals instead of relying on foreign workers-and that non-nationals from many other countries have entered in the job hunt, competition is fierce. The more experience and expertise you can offer in a particular field, the better your prospects will be.
Once you acquire sufficient experience, start looking for positions immediately. Do so while you still have a job or before you move entirely. On average, it takes nine months to a year to place a good candidate in one of the better openings. Many of the best positions are in sovereign wealth funds, banks, and government contractors, so the processes are far slower than those found in many of the industries in the West.
Put your experience, interests and areas of expertise on the network. Many Middle Eastern headhunters will research candidates online with this tool. Once you have constructed a strong LinkedIn account, start actively engaging on it. Research the head of the team that you want to join and write them a well-written introduction email.
The Middle East is a region which values tradition and formalities. Use this to your advantage by using traditional job searching strategies from yesteryear. Simply walking into a company, with your credentials in hand, and introducing yourself can be an effective tactic in the Middle East.
Another “old-school” tactic is to not forget to network. The Middle East’s major cities attract individuals from many walks of life. No matter what your area of expertise may be, you may very well bump into someone who moves in the same circles and that can offer you a career opportunity. This is especially true in the expatriate community.
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