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UAE Focused on Job Creation For Nationals and Saudi Arabian Non Oil Sector Set For Growth in 2013

Middle East : 30 November 2012

Job Creation for Emiratis a Major Focus For Next Year

Emiratisation will become a national priority in 2013, as stated by HRH Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in a recent Dubai cabinet meeting.

“All efforts must unite,” stated the ruler of Dubai when announcing an initiative to create more jobs for nationals and improve the lifestyles of citizens. He added drama to the announcement by mentioning the mission of the UAE’s founding fathers, who gathered in the same spot when birthing the nation.

Shaikh Mohammed spoke to fellow cabinet ministers about commemorating and renewing the resolve to strive for the spirit and ambition of the UAE’s founding fathers. He noted that citizens continue to garner top priority, as opposed to buildings and cities. Echoing the approach of the President, Shaikh Mohammed stated that citizens come “first, second and third.”

Several initiatives were announced in support of the nation’s products, youth and culture. A list of government policies focusing on job creation will be rolled out next year and the study of Emirati will become compulsory in both private and national universities. ‘Emirati Humanitarian Work Day’ will be celebrated on Ramadan 19, to honour founding father Shaikh Zayed and flag poles will be erected in every emirate, as well as a Union Museum in Dubai to honour the growth of the UAE.

The Cabinet also plans to launch an initiative to brand products made in the Emirates, all in an effort to drive up employment opportunities for nationals and move the economy forward.

Enhanced Employee Benefits Set for the UAE

Businesses in Dubai are looking to attract nationals and other talent with larger salaries and greater bonuses, but are also sweetening the offer with enhanced employee benefits. Other than the standard schooling allowance and health insurance, Dubai firms are also offering unique perks to talented individuals.

Nationals will find abounding benefits in the private sector, including an additional ‘national allowance’ within private businesses as well as another allowance to support a better lifestyle, covering the costs of domestic help such as driver and housemaids.

Certain benefits that have long been available to expat workers are now being offered to nationals, such as yearly tickets for family travel, according to a recent report from Mercer.

Zaid Kamhawi of Mercer noted that these additional benefits will increase the attraction for global recruits. He also stated that employers realize maximum return on unique incentives that take into account the needs of a specific type of employee and are, in turn, more valued.

Special benefits will be offered to nationals achieving success in the private sector, according to Kamhawi.

Greater levels of confidence in the UAE support the Mercer report’s findings and indicate that next year will be positive for UAE employees. Recruitment experts predict that salaries will increase by 5 percent or more with valued workers achieving even greater increments.

Morgan McKinley managing director Trefor Murphy stated that salary increases in 2013 should fall between 5 and 6 percent.

6 Percent Expansion Expected for Saudi Arabian Non Oil Sector Next Year

Despite a tightening local financial climate with scarce corporate deposits, expansion is expected next year in the Kingdom’s non oil sector. These conditions may actually reflect robust growth for investments in the Saudi non oil economy.

New orders are on the rise as shifts in the exchange rate help to give non oil exports a competitive edge, according to a recent Samba Financial Group report. This report also states that rising import costs are challenging for Saudi businesses.

The macroeconomic forecasts have been extended by Samba, and report average growth of around 3.5 percent for real GDP in the period 2013 to 2014. Economic activity in the Kingdom’s non oil sector is expected to continue expanding by 5 percent.

Persistent, yet mild stresses have plagued Saudi’s financial systems, including a rising loan to deposit ratio that surpassed the 85 level mandated by SAMA. That ratio has declined something since August and September, although the SAIBOR or main interbank rate, has increased and the one-year spread of SR to USD has moved into positive territory. These conditions indicate that the riyal may be overvalued in current markets.

The Samba report noted that activity within the private non oil sector is lively, as higher levels of lending (average of 15.5 percent in Q3) come up against quieter rates of deposit growth (11.5 percent). These conditions indicate that cash investments are on the rise, likely imported capital machinery, which is positive and indicates increasing domestic demand.

The most recent PMI data supports this stand, with continuing healthy growth of 7.1 percent for last year. While most PMIs around the world are battling to come in above 50 points, Saudi’s overall PMI is reported at almost 60.

New orders continue to grow, fed by increases in government investments across several sectors, including utilities, oil & gas, petrochemicals, education and health. Stresses in Saudi Arabian contracting firms continue to be evident in the PMI data, as foreign contractors and increased competition stifle margins in this vital industry.

Although new export demand has declined recently, due to a weaker global economy, those numbers have perked up and posted two positive rates of almost 58 in September and October. Recovery in the Chinese economy has increased demand for petrochemicals and shifts in the exchange rate have made Saudi petrochemicals more competitive.

Inflation also dropped in September, reaching 3.6 percent from the August figure of 3.8 percent due to lower rental costs. Prices of food increased slightly, although government subsidies helped to offset higher costs for barley and wheat.

Oil production is expected to fuel growth in 2013, although it will decline by around 3.5 percent as additional supply floods into the market from the United States and Iraq. The fiscal cliff in the US has weakened demand, which is forecasted to brighten in 2014.

These conditions will soften government spending and encourage efficiency, which will continue to drive the private sector along. A one-month bonus in salary will increase levels of private consumption and support the retail, transport and wholesale sectors.

Expansion in the non oil sector of Saudi Arabia’s economy is expected to reach 6 percent in 2013.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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