One in 10 workers in the Gulf have lost their jobs in the past year, with the UAE hit hardest in the region, a new survey says. Sixteen per cent of workers in the Emirates were made redundant in the period, data released by gulftalent.com, an online recruitment firm, showed. The property sector was particularly affected. "There is a bigger supply of candidates, both in the region and globally, and less demand for staff following the slowdown in the economy," a company spokesman said. "Competition for talent has subsided, there are fewer vacancies and employers are no longer under pressure to pay more to attract and retain staff."
The impact was most felt in Dubai because of its higher exposure to credit financing and global markets, the report said. The results are in stark contrast to the boom of the past few years, when companies in the Gulf had difficulty recruiting enough talent. The UAE had the most layoffs over the 12-month period to August, while Oman showed the fewest with just 6 per cent of professionals being made redundant, the survey of 24,000 professionals across the GCC showed.
"The area you probably feel it most in is the real estate sector," said Robert Ziegler, the vice president of the management consultancy AT Kearney. "Project managers would be job-hopping, happily, in past years with 100 per cent salary increases every time they hop. Those times are over." Property professionals were the most impacted, with 15 per cent losing their jobs. Audit professionals, however, benefited from the economic downturn, receiving the biggest average pay rise at 7.5 per cent as demand for their skills peaked.
Senior executives and western expatriates were also hard hit, with 13 per cent of both losing their jobs. Of those still employed in the GCC, 60 per cent did not get a pay raise, a sharp contrast from the same time last year when just one-third did not receive a salary boost. Pay rises in the UAE shrank the most, falling to just 5.5 per cent compared with 13.6 per cent during the same period last year.
Professionals in Saudi Arabia were the least affected, receiving a 6.5 per cent average pay raise compared with 9.8 per cent last year. Employees across the GCC received average salary increases of 6.2 per cent compared with 11.4 per cent last year. Still, it was the first time in the four years the survey has been conducted in which salary growth in most GCC countries outpaced inflation. Another side effect of the recent rise in redundancies is the migration of professionals to more bustling hubs in the GCC, such as from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and Doha, the study showed.
"The cities that are still flush with capital and continue to grow and need workers, such as Doha and Abu Dhabi, are the next attractive steps for those who want to stay in the region," said Mr Ziegler. The number of people who live in Dubai and work in Abu Dhabi tripled to 3 per cent. However, Dubai remains the most popular destination because of its highly developed infrastructure and relative social openness, gulftalent.com said.
Mr Ziegler said that while the trend would likely continue for three to five years, the balance would tip as Abu Dhabi and Doha housing developments were completed. Looking ahead, the outlook is mixed. The survey shows 20 per cent of companies plan further job cuts in the final quarter of this year while 51 per cent plan to expand their staff to make up for past layoffs. While recruitment is expected to pick up early next year, it is unlikely to reach the peak levels of last year for some time, the report said.