In the UAE, there is a new job awaiting across sectors. And the AI-linked job creation surge is also starting to shape up. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Even as UAE’s business activity ticks along nicely, the job market is in one of its best shapes of the last five years helped by new hiring across sectors.

While airlines were among the biggest recruiters in the last two years, it is now the turn of hotel operators to go big with taking on new staff. The upcoming openings of multiple new hotels and resorts in the UAE is fuelling this. Many of the initial recruitments have already taken place, and more are on the way, job placement sources confirm. (As for the actual hotel openings, many are scheduled for later this year and first quarter of 2024.)

“Many employees (across sectors) are using the current opportunity to make a move and secure a pay increase, promotion or for better working environment that they can’t achieve with their current employer,” said Vijay Gandhi, Regional Director at Korn Ferry, the consultancy.

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We are actively seeking individuals who are ready to join us on a journey that will shape the future of mobility and redefine the car services industry.

- Huan Yang of Cafu

No major retrenchments

At the start of the year, there had been suggestions that the employment market could be in for a slowdown, with organisations focussing on managing the rise in their cost of operations from successive interest rate increases. Rather than on new hires.

Market sources say there were some consolidations within banks’ retail divisions, on the premise that mortgage and other loan activity would subside. But concerns that rate increases would trump everything has not come to pass.

If anything, businesses in the UAE have taken it in their stride, and since the start of April been active with new employee intake too.

“This is clearly evident in hiring by the tourism sector, as forecasts suggest that tourism arrivals to the UAE will grow by 10 per cent in 2023, after surging 55 per cent in 2022,” said Bal Krishen, Chairman and CEO of Centuty Financial, the investment firm. “This will translate into growth in hiring sectors such as accommodation and food services.”

Real estate action creates new opportunities

The other sector where employment and new business is being created is in real estate. “There are at least five new brokerage licenses being issued on any given day,” said an industry consultant. “These jobs are being created because they are following the money – UAE’s property market is having its best showing in 10 years.”

One such newly created agency is Asette, based in Dubai, which has a 25-strong workforce and with plans to add more. Rather than being a plain-vanilla brokerage firm, Asette brands itself more as a proptech firm and using AI to make for a smoother, easier buying of property in the UAE. From anywhere in the world.

This digital transformation enables an efficient offplan property investing experience within the UAE, accessible globally in under 60 seconds. Asette's platform consolidating everything from new property launches to information on visa requirements and mortgage options.

- Leena Vesterinen, CEO of Asette

Other boutique property firms that lean heavily on deploying AI are starting to get visible in the UAE. What this does is create job situations for two types of activity – the actual buying or selling of property. And two, in having candidates with the right tech skills – and with AI ones at that.

Keep in mind that AI is well on its way to being the hottest job credential to have. Second-half of 2023 could see the full impact of that trend driving the employment space.

Cafu's hiring tech
The fuel-on-demand provider Cafu epitomizes what UAE businesses have on the top of their agenda - hire tech professionals. If they have deep knowledge of AI - of the Generative AI sort - even better.

Cafu has just launched an extensive recruitment campaign targeted towards tech professionals across the region. This is needed at a time when the Dubai firm is entering new markets, having opened in Canada.

The company has openings for over 100 positions, 'from visionary engineers and creative product designers to accomplished software developers'.

According to Huan Yang, Chief Technology Officer, Cafu: “We are actively seeking individuals who are ready to join us on a journey that will shape the future of mobility and redefine the car services industry."

Companies continue to phase out raises-for-everyone pay policies. Organizations are differentiating pay to top skills and in-demand digital-savvy workers.

- Vijay Gandhi of Korn Ferry

Traditional skills required too

Construction and project management is another space where employment generation is happening. But the industry has not seen any major rise in salary or other incentives. “There is surplus supply of personnel that contracting firms can choose from,” said the head of a big project management firm. “The surplus is there because of problems that a handful of leading contractors had in the past, which meant they could no longer afford to keep them on the payrolls.

“But after summer, there could be increased demand for skilled labour as new projects start rolling. 2023-24 could be a good one for UAE construction.”

The same sentiments are being shared across sectors. And it’s all showing up in the employment space too.

No more of across-the-board pay raises?
"Companies continue to phase out raises-for-everyone pay policies. Organizations are differentiating pay to top skills and in-demand digital-savvy workers.

"Companies have doubled down on efforts to diversify their employment bases and leadership ranks. There is a succession anxiety because of talent gap and the fear of 3-6 month lag in getting a new person on board at the top. There’s been a lot of interaction between board and management, giving them keen insights into the potential and capability of other executives to grow from within."

- Vijay Gandhi of Korn Ferry