Dubai most desired destination among Gulf expatriates – survey

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A view of Burj Khaleefa, world's tallest building, in Dubai, UAE. Photo -

According to a survey by, Dubai-based online recruitment firm, the Gulf region continues to create jobs despite the impact of Arab uprisings.

The 2012 edition of “Employment and Salary Trends in the Gulf” released on Monday by revealed Saudi Arabia is the leader in job creation, thanks to its strong economic growth and massive state-led investment. The survey indicated that some 62% of firms increased their headcount last year compared with 55% in 2010.

The publication said Oman ranked second in terms of employment opportunities where 56% of firms created new jobs, 1% down from the previous year.

Qatari economy also gained strength as 51% of employers created new jobs.

The percentage of firms that created new jobs in Kuwait during 2011 more than doubled compared to 2010, registering an increase of 26% to reach 51%. The UAE also saw the number of firms creating new jobs jump by 15% to reach 37% during the same period.

The survey also revealed that Dubai’s share of regional recruitment activity has started to increase after two years of slowdown, due to a combination of jobs growth and investors’ confidence.

The only country in the GCC that suffered during 2011 was Bahrain which went through severe political tensions. According to, only 8% of firms reported any new jobs being created last year, down from 23% in 2010. The country continues to have a negative impact on the job market due to persistent civil unrest, the report added.

The survey highlighted that oil and gas, healthcare and retail sectors enjoyed the largest headcount expansion, while banking and construction fared the worst.

Prime expat destinations’s survey showed that the UAE and Qatar remain extremely popular destinations for expatriates, with Saudi Arabia in third place. According to the findings, Dubai overwhelmingly remains the most attractive city among Gulf-based expatriates.

Qatar bagged the second position in terms of popularity with expatriates. Bahrain dropped to 4th place to become the Gulf’s least attractive destination for expatriates in 2011 due to domestic unrest, behind Kuwait and Oman.

The study also showed that employers in the Gulf are finding it easier to hire Western nationals rather than Asian candidates as a result of Western countries facing high unemployment and low pay rises. However, according to interview findings, some employers are facing difficulty attracting Western candidates because they perceive the region to be unsafe, following widespread media coverage of the Arab Spring.

This year’s survey also highlights the fact that governments across the region are making the nationalisation of expatriate jobs a top priority and are embracing various schemes to do this. The survey also noted that some Gulf countries are adopting more innovative approaches, introducing elements of choice, competition and commercial incentives, to boost employment for locals.

Stable 2012 salaries

According to, average private sector salary increase remained stable across the GCC but much lower than pre-recession levels. Oman saw the highest salary increase in 2011 (6.5%) partly prompted by widespread agitation by Omani nationals and a pay hike awarded by the government to public sector employees.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar saw increases of 6% and 5.6% respectively on the back of strong economic developments. The UAE experienced an average increase of 4.9%, while Bahrain had the region’s lowest salary increase, of only 4.5%.

However, real salary increases, consisting of average pay rise net of inflation, was highest in the UAE and Bahrain. In real terms, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had the lowest salary increases.

Among job categories, human resource professionals enjoyed the highest pay rise, while administration and marketing were the lowest. Among sectors, healthcare and retail offered the highest pay rises, while real estate had the lowest.

In 2012, Gulf employers expect similar salary increases to last year, with Qatar leading the way.’s full publication “Employment and Salary Trends in the Gulf 2012” is available for download free of charge from

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