About 170 people applied for jobs during a recruitment day held by the construction company Drake and Scull. The event was part of the publicly listed company's drive to hire 300 staff for current and future projects in Saudi Arabia, which has taken over from Dubai as the largest construction market in the GCC, encouraging a shift there by UAE firms. Drake and Scull is hiring construction managers, project managers, commercial managers, design managers, quantity surveyors and engineers in various fields. The firm interviewed 110 people yesterday and will conduct more interviews over the next few days. Up until nine months ago, construction companies had a tough time securing talent but the slowdown in the UAE has left those that are still hiring inundated with applications. "The number of CVs we get on a regular basis has been crazy," said Zeina Tabari, the chief corporate affairs officer at Drake and Scull. "But the advantages right now [include] finding good people and we're taking advantage of the slowdown." Another advantage is that firms can hire for less. Salary levels for expatriates working in the property and construction sectors have fallen by up to 30 per cent since last September across the GCC, according to data from APG Global, a recruitment agency based in Australia. A project manager or engineer, for example, who could earn up to Dh55,000 a month last September would now receive about Dh45,000. "Salaries are still lower in Saudi Arabia than they are in Dubai, but accommodation there is cheaper," added Ms Tabari. "Saudi is what Dubai was 10 years ago. If I had approached the staff two years ago and said there was an opportunity in Saudi Arabia, people would say no." Among those looking to work with Drake and Scull in Saudi Arabia was Joju Thomas, a 32-year-old construction consultant from Kerala in India. Mr Thomas has been in Dubai for seven years and, while he still has a job, his company has encouraged its staff to look for new roles as work slows. Like many people in the sector, he does not want to leave the Middle East. "Dubai is not an option at the moment but Saudi Arabia has a lot of jobs," he said. "Here everything is open, but the lifestyle is very expensive. But there, I think it will be cheaper and we can keep our money in our pockets." Yousef Ayyash, an engineer from Jordan, also attended the event. "I want a job in Saudi Arabia because you can save money and it is cheap," he said. Ms Tabari said Saudi Arabia offered people more opportunities for promotion: "It is a very good market and less competitive. In Dubai, they've reached the optimum, but in Saudi Arabia there's still room to grow."