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Dubai: Dubai’s private sector is finally back to hiring – for the first time in 12 months. Retail sector was the one adding more jobs all through January.

The fast-tracking of the COVID-19 vaccination programme seems to be injecting the right dose of confidence.

The job creation was taking place even without sales happening at optimum levels. “Despite sales growth near-stalling, non-oil companies in Dubai increased output for the second month in a row in January,” said David Owen, Economist at HIS Markit, which comes up with monthly readings on the state of the private sector in key economies.

Interestingly, the retail and wholesale sector was the best performing, obviously benefiting from the continuation of the various sales promotions.

Local market sources confirm that hiring activity, particularly at the entry level, has been happening. Sustaining this would depend on the construction sector, which could see an increase in new projects from April.

The 'PMI' reading
January's PMI reading, according to IHS Markit, was at 50.6 and down from December's 51. But that's still good going as any number above 50 suggests.
PMI stands for Purchasing Managers Index, which tracks private sector investments across key sectors.
January's "slight reduction was driven by falls in the output and new orders sub-indices, although both remained in expansion territory," IHS Markit notes.

Need for catch up

Even construction sector activity took on small gains during January, but the hardest hit was travel and tourism. No surprises there as multiple countries – some of them key sources for visitors such as the UK – curtail flight services as part of new lockdown measures.

"Restrictions are set to curb tourism activity over the first quarter of 2021 whilst developed countries vaccinate their populations, but are likely to ease later in the year,” said Owen.

  1. Dubai's privately-owned firms are expressing "greater confidence" on the future business climate, linked to the rapid domestic roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.
  2. Optimism is at the highest since last September, but remains at "one of the weakest levels seen in the series history".
  3. Travel and tourism related firms have given a neutral outlook for 2021.