Mixed-bag results for UAE banking sector

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While in other industries there has been a cautious rise in vacancies, the banking sector has experienced a wave of lay-offs in the past month. Hiring is slowly picking up in the UAE, but not in financial services.

HSBChas cut 370 jobs in its Middle East business, whileBarclaysrecently moved the headquarters of its Barclays Africa division from Dubai to Johannesburg, leaving 123 employees with the option of relocating or leaving the bank. Also, 39 employees of The Dubai bank Shuaa Capital workforce found themselves out of employment on Wednesday, as the bank attempts to try to turn around a business that has reported losses in three of the past four quarters.

In contrast to the job cuts in the financial sector, various UAE banks have witnessed an increase in earnings. Emirates NBD, Mashreq, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and HSBC Middle East were among lenders reporting higher profits in this year’s first quarter, but revenues have dwindled at many other banks.

Meanwhile, recent Central Bank regulations on personal loans and credit cards are expected to eat into margins at banks’ retail operations, which some analysts predict will force a change of strategy. “You’ve basically got an environment that’s low volume growth on the banking side and on the capital markets side,” said one analyst, who asked not to be named.

But lending conditions have improved in recent months, and local businesses appear more willing to hire, said Mark McFarland, an economist at Emirates NBD.

“There’s very definite signs that the lending conditions are improving and that banks are beginning to lend again,” Mr McFarland said.

In a happy turn of events, according to the Monster Employment Index (compiled by the job-search website Monster.com), there has been a growth in online job advertising in the Emirates between last October and March, with a sharp upturn since the start of this year.

 

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