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UAE Job Market Expansion to Continue; Saudi Growth to Hit 3.8 Percent in 2012

Middle East : 06 February 2012

UAE Job Market Expanded in 2011 and Set For Further Growth

The expansion seen in the UAE job market last year is expected to continue throughout 2012 as many firms in the Emirates plan to hire more staff, according to executive recruiters at the Gulf Recruitment Group.

A report released by the firm stated that both multinational and local businesses are confident of surging activity this year, causing an increase in hiring in the UAE and across the region.

According to the Gulf Recruitment Group report, 93 percent of businesses surveyed have plans to hire during the opening quarter of 2012, but will move forward with caution.

The Gulf Recruitment Group director Mark Timms noted that companies expect to hire at the same rate seen in 2011, with brighter prospects reported by firms in FMCGs (or Fast Moving Consumer Goods), pharmaceuticals and construction. As the investment banking sector struggles, employment within retail and corporate banking will see more challenges. Timms also stated that career seekers looking at the insurance industry should see positive conditions.

The receiving and placement of live mandates increased by 46 percent last year compared to 2010 figures. The report expects this to significantly improve this year.

Higher demand should hit the construction sector during Q1 and Q2 of 2012, with the reported 17 percent of companies surveyed implementing the manpower plans currently in place.

The report stated that the economy in the UAE is surging across a variety of sectors as large regional projects get underway. The staffing required for these projects is being pulled from the Emirates.

The job market in the UAE recovered last year after local growth and economic improvement came into play, according to Stanton Chase Marketing and Operations director Konstantina Sakelloriou. Sakelloriou noted that several global events also had an effect on the UAE job market.

Troubles in the US and European economies affected the banking sector, where notable layoffs were experienced. Sakelloriou stated that the UAE has experienced a period of slowing down, as opposed to a period of layoffs.

Huxley Associates Middle Eastern business manager Hasnain Qazi stated that UAE-based investment banking firms cut costs and laid off staff last year in response to American unemployment, negative performances in the stock market, crisis in the Eurozone and worldwide economic slowdowns.

Certain brokerage firms closed their doors or significantly cut operations, while a notable number of brokers were laid off.

The Arab Spring played a vital role in shaping the UAE job market, according to experts.

Beginning in Tunisia and Egypt, moving to Libya and Syria and including the sanctions against Iran, the Arab Spring pushed businesses away from tumultuous regions and into the UAE, where stability created a safe haven, according to National Bank of Abu Dhabi’s chief financial analyst Ziyad Dabbas.

Dabbas noted that the UAE has seen the benefits of these movements, creating new economic opportunities.

Sakellariou stated that executives moved from regions in crisis to the UAE as a result of the Arab Spring, with many transferring property into the UAE from the affected nations.

A pay hike of higher than 30 percent for UAE government employees has put pressure on UAE businesses, likely resulting in higher salaries within the private sector.

Saudi Forecasted to Experience 3.8 Percent Growth in 2012

Forecasts for Saudi Arabia’s GDP state a 3.8 percent growth in 2012, according to leading regional bank, Emirates NBD. Supported by spending with the public sector, the Saudi economy will grow despite downturns in the worldwide economy. Oil remains the largest revenue source for Saudi Arabia, and oil prices are expected to stay above $100/barrel.

Emirates NBD’s chief investment officer in Private Banking Gary Dugan stated that the view of the Kingdom’s market remains positive overall. Population demographics are expected to affect the economic in a positive way, boosting the telecoms industry particularly. The banking sector in Saudi will also realize the benefits since banking balance sheets in Saudi are mainly driven by domestic markets.

Considering equities in Saudi Arabia, banking, telecoms and petrochemicals should create the largest impact on the market’s performance, due to these sectors dominating the Tadawul. Food and retail will also see an advantage from increasing government spending and consolidation with specific industry segments.

When or if foreign ownership in equities is adopted, this move is expected to create a major boost in regional markets, according to Dugan. The Tadawul remains the biggest stock market in the area, and could become a catalyst for investors looking to get into other markets within the region.

Dugan also stated that in most of the emerging market nations, Russia and China being the exception, demographics are expected to create strong growth in the coming years. Although challenges exist around the globe, Dugan believes that emerging markets will continue to experience growth.

As the vibrant, youthful population continues to surge in the Middle East, those demographics will support solid growth in the economy, according to Dugan, despite a recession and continuing struggles in the Eurozone.

Dugan outlined the various global economic challenges ahead, noting that structural change continues to occur around the world. Several major issues face investors, with a wide range of possible outcomes to consider. Investors will deal with questions regarding the deficit spending cuts in the US, the Eurozone problems, low interest on Japanese debt payments and a dreary long-term outlook on the overall economy. Also, the Arab Spring could continue through 2012 and impact markets in the GCC.

Instead of second-guessing about the Eurozone, Dugan noted that investors should look to what they know is true, and consider industries and regions with expectations for solid structural growth. Dugan advised that investors watch pharmaceuticals, technology firms and energy, where long-term opportunities abound.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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