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Thu 28 Jan 2010 06:40 AM

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Dubai no longer 'golden goose' for jobs

Recruitment giant says it is seeing 'a lot more' hiring in Abu Dhabi than Dubai in 2010.

Recruitment consultancy Kershaw Leonard has said that while Dubai will still appeal to job hunters in 2010, it was no longer the "golden goose" it once was.

Mike Hynes, managing partner at Kershaw Leonard, said he was seeing "a lot more" hiring activity in Abu Dhabi than Dubai, and a general willingness by job seekers in Dubai to commute or even relocate to the capital, provided accommodation can be found.

However, he added that the overall sentiment in Dubai remained upbeat.

"Generally there is more confidence, more activity, more things going on," Hynes said in comments published by website Ameinfo. "But people are still being cautious about recruiting and cautious about moving jobs."

Hynes said hiring and salary trends in Dubai varied depending on the industry, adding: "Nothing has really changed in the finance and human resources areas. They were not very badly hit in 2009, and continue to remain strong for us now."

But he said that in the construction sector, employers wanted to pay lower salaries, but employees wouldn't move for less money. "So it's a bit of a stalemate. People who have a job are hanging on to it," he said.

Kershaw Leonard also said that job candidates living in the emirate had a huge advantage over those living overseas.

"It's quite tough to get a position from anywhere outside of Dubai right now. For the most part, there are a lot people who have the experience and expertise for mainstream jobs. They are a much lower risk than bringing someone in from, say, the UK," Hynes said.

He added that Dubai was fortunate that it had so much talent already in the emirate, as the lure of the city among job seekers overseas had fallen.

"I think the image of Dubai has been badly tarnished, and it is no longer seen as the magnet that it once was. I do think that there will always be people who will be keen to come here, but it's not the golden goose anymore," he said.

Bassam Gazal, head of Mercer's survey practice in the Middle East, told Ameinfo that companies in Dubai could be under the most pressure to raise salaries in 2010 as competed with firms in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi for the best candidates.

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Bernard 10 years ago

shouldn't this have been published 12 months ago?

Jumeirah John 10 years ago

2009 was a very bad year for everyone I know. Those who managed to hang on to their jobs in Dubai like I have, have done so by accepting a 20-30% reduction in salary, a HUGE cut in rental and other allowances, a reduction in leave benefits and a HUGE increase in working hours. Of those who lost their jobs I know of a few who were forced to leave the UAE because they could not find alternative employment. Those who were 'lucky' enough to find other jobs are now commuting to Abu Dhabi on a daily basis on a greatly reduced salary to what they were previously earning in Dubai. Not one of them who I've spoken to (and I count more than 30 highly qualified senior positioned individuals) are happy to commute to Abu Dhabi everyday, and most of them are now sinking deeper and deeper into debt as they struggle to make ends meet on a reduced salary. Sure rents have come down in Dubai but not in Abu Dhabi. But the cost of living has gone through the roof especially for those with families and children in school. All who I have spoken too are now actively seeking employment abroad with a view of being out of Dubai by end of June the latest and never coming back. I'm sure there'll be no shortage of people coming from abroad to replace them and perhaps the newcomers will be better adapted and more willing to work for less pay. But the problem is that Dubai / Abu Dhabi will in the process suffer a brain drain of it's best and most experienced professionals who will be replaced by a new breed of transient workers with a very short term view of life in Dubai / Abu Dhabi and unfortunately this will also be reflected in their work ethic as well as in their spending patterns. Especially when they discover how expensive life is in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Richard 10 years ago

i can't understand why people are still complaining that dubai is still expensive. the rents have gone down considerably; ie. 50%, there have been no increase in cost of other essentials like fuel, utility fees, consumables, etc. it makes me wonder if these people ever got out of the middle east to live in the first place. can't imagine what they'll say when they visit places like singapore, london, tokyo. they will probably be in shock and realise all their complaining is but groundless. the truth is that dubai is no longer expensive, so quit bitchin' already.

Simon 10 years ago

Richard...with the best will in the world, you really do need to wake up and research your 'pricing' claims. Jumeirah Johns points are totally valid. The point is, the cost of living is all relative. Rents have definately come down...but so have salaries and therefore disposable income for the majority. Those burdened with 'yester-years' debt commitments are making massive cut backs where they can and finding it most hard. Remember these are the very same people who invested in the Dubai dream and vision of Sheikh Mohamed. Mortgage borrowers have not seen their Mortgage interest rates fall to any helpful degree, in some cases the banks have raised them. High interest rates which were once affordable are now being paid with lower incomes. Grocery shopping has also gone up. Take a look at the prices. They are on an upward swing for most consumables. You can definately start to compare Dubai purchase prices with UK and Europe now...Dubai is more expensive in the vast majority of basic food stuffs. Dubai's Shopping Festival, once a massive tourist attraction from all over the world is now pointless because you can buy the same 'label' items cheaper in London, Singapore etc, etc and I have! Electronics in Dubai used to be cheaper than UK&Europe...now they're more expensive. This list goes on... Just as the populos of Dubai have made cut backs, retailors need to understand whats going on aswell. But having read many retail reports and comments from retail managers etc, its a case of if they could, they would...but they are hindered and tied by constant high rents and expenses. Not everyone in the 'chain' of retail understands what has happened in Dubai and many are fighting the recession in a single minded way to retain their profit margins of 'yester-year'...

Aadil 10 years ago

I really doubt the reports I read on the UAE news websites. Perhaps the instruction is: "In the interest of the UAE, the press shall report mostly positive news".

Aadil 10 years ago

When Dubai was growing, everybody (inc AB) was reporting Dubai's economic gorwth figures. Now that Dubai is 'declining', suddenly all economic figures are the UAE as a whole, not Dubai. We're told Abu Dhabi continues to grow at probably at 2 to 3 per cent (or more) in 2010. So what does that mean for Dubai. Surely Dubai continues to be in a lengthy recession. But there so much positivity and optimism to go around. I love Dubai, but surely everyone should have learned by now that transparency and honesty are key.

Richard 10 years ago

Take Singapore for instance, the price of property has gone through the roof (it is like 2-3 times more expensive than Dubai now when it used to be 1.0-1.5 times 2 years ago). This is causing a lot of hardship to her large middle class and also putting a lot of pressure on the government who realised the repercussions of their unpopular policies of attracting foreign workers to compete with locals thus suppressing salaries considerably and also increasing the gini coefficient. The very competitive nature and low salaries in Singapore, which has remain largely stagnant over the years and in fact going down when compared to inflation rates, are a result of this policy which allows cheap foreign workers like cleaners & prostitutes etc residence visa loosely to live in the country leading also to social problems & tension). The density of Singapore is also one of the highest in the world which translates to many public places being crowded everywhere with long queues, insufficient parking spaces. congested metro, roads, parks, beaches, etc. leading to a more stressful life thus impacting overall quality - this is intangible but very true and easily felt. And we have not even touch on items like income tax, road tax, goods & service tax, higher salik & parking fees everywhere you turn, higher car prices (5-8 times more), higher fuel prices (3-4 times more), & higher electricity bills (2-3 times more), etc. What disposable income is there left and what on earth are you bitchin' about, Simon??

BRANDO 10 years ago

Very good point Jumeirah John, that's exactly what will happen if it remains too expensive for workers to live in Dubai/UAE Dubai is very dependant on foreign skills and manpower and it always will be, if the cost of living becomes too much for workers then people will up sticks and go elsewhere, not good news for Dubai and its longterm ambitions of expansion. There are other expensive places where a very transient workforce just manages to keep it ticking over but the lack of quality and loyal staff shows! A tricky position to be in but that's the reality of it.

Dan 10 years ago

Well Richard you must be one of the few. Almost no one on this site has talked about Dubai being cheap. As a frequent tourist to Dubai (3 times a year for 6 years) I have seen the price increases. I stopped shopping in Dubai from 2006 when it got more expensive then Sweden. After 2006 there was almost nothing I could buy or rent cheaper in Dubai. No cloths, watches, shoes, accessories, electronics, hotel rooms, car rental, apartment rent, restaurants, bars and so on. Taxi fare and gas has always been much cheaper in Dubai but that’s it. Sweden has 52% total tax, which must be one of the highest in the world. Workers have high pay. Anything you buy has a 25%tax on it, cars, food EVERYTHING. Gas cost 6,5 Dirham/Liter. How comes that despite all this high costs Sweden is cheaper than Dubai? Cloths, food, restaurants, bars and you can rent a 3 bedroom apartment with high standard for 5000 Dir/month. I think the 2004 prices were and still are the realistic prices the city should have. Anything above that is superficial and that is crippling Dubai since 2006.

Fahad 10 years ago

I presume Richard has no idea what life in Dubai means for most middle class people. Salaries are definitely lower than in Singapore for most jobs except those catering to western expats.Also, while cars & petrol are costlier in Singapore, in Dubai, education / house rentals are more expensive. Also Singapore gives a chance to resident to gain citizenship, which provides for some peace of mind