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The local hospitality sector clawed back some favourable occupancy numbers during November and December. Will this translate into more jobs? First-quarter 2021 performance will have a huge say in these decisions. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Hotel operators in the UAE are hiring again, boosted by strong occupancy levels generated in December and which have sustained into the initial weeks of this month. Even with lockdowns and travel restrictions being extended in some of the key overseas markets, the local hospitality sector seems confident that the worst of the pandemic created hit is behind it.

While visitor numbers are nowhere close to levels seen in 2019, operators seem optimistic that the period up to March will somewhat make up for an abysmal 2020. At least optimistic enough to hire new staff after the industry, as per some estimates, shed a third of its jobs last year.

“The measures the UAE has put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus have allowed the economy to remain open even as lockdowns have been re-imposed in Europe, the UK, parts of Asia and the US, making it an attractive destination for those still willing and able to travel,” said Khatija Haque, Chief Economist at EmiratesNBD Research, in an industry report earlier this month.

This return to hiring is being confirmed by multiple industry sources as well as listings made on job portals.

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Customer facing roles

Marriott in Dubai Marina is looking for waiters, bartenders and a hostess, as per the property’s Linkedin posting. The roles will include key responsibilities such as providing professional services to guests, having strong service and beverage skills, and promoting hotel facilities.

The mid-market brand Premier Inn is searching for a receptionist for its hotel in Dubai. According to the company’s post on LinkedIn, the right candidate should have at least a year’s worth of experience in the same role, apart from having a high school diploma and knowledge of English and Arabic.

Visitor numbers to Dubai were at 1.1 million between July and November, according to some estimates. The year-end holiday season helped push occupancy rates across UAE hotels well past the 50 per cent mark.

These gains are helping with the return of jobs as well. During the worst of the pandemic months, hotels sent all non-essential staff on furlough or even went in for outright job cuts.

Language matters

One of Dubai’s most famous hospitality names – Kempinski – is on the lookout for a front-office staffer for its Palm Jumeirah property. The candidate must have at least one- to two years of experience in a similar role, at a - preferably - luxury 5-star chain along with “excellent” communication skills in English as well as Russian.

Further up the chain

For those with slightly different skillsets, the roles available are diverse. The Shangri-La Group is in need of a marketing communications manager at its Abu Dhabi hotel. The appropriate candidate for should have minimum two years of experience in communications or marketing with a five-star hotel.

Holding a degree in marketing, communications or business administration will definitely help along with expertise in food and beverage marketing, media and promotions.

UAE’s hotels are in hiring mode again as the months-long holiday season keeps occupancy rates high by bringing in tourists from different parts of the world.

There’s good news for those passionate about crunching numbers. Hilton Abu Dhabi wants an assistant revenue manager who will be responsible for analyzing and presenting financial data that will help senior executive teams make well-informed decisions.

The normalising of relations with Israel allowed direct flights to commence between the UAE and Israel in December and an estimated 50,000 Israeli tourists have reportedly visited since

- Khatija Haque, Chief Economist at EmiratesNBD Research

Critical phase

How hotels fare in the first three months will be decisive in ensuring job creation actually takes place. The industry is closely monitoring travel patterns to gauge where the next guests are likely to come from. More delays to a return to normalcy in one part of the world will have its ripples here as well.

And on jobs in the industry…