x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Egyptian uncertainty triggers talent search

Egypt's revolution has put into the limelight a talent pool of senior Egyptian executives

The turmoil in Egypt has sparked a battle for talent as political instability threatens jobs across all sectors.

A pool of senior Egyptian business people has emerged as much of the economy comes under pressure from lower foreign investments, weaker tourism receipts, declining workers' remittances and returning migrant workers from Libya.

"It's safe to say that senior individuals who are looking to secure alternatives to the current situation have made contact with us," said Marco Boni, who is responsible for Middle East business at the global recruitment firm Spencer Stuart.

"There have been a number of situations where we've got a lot of calls from senior Egyptians looking at the Gulf."

Mr Boni added many Cairo executives are attractive to businesses in the Gulf because they are often well-travelled and have strong qualifications.

"Egypt has been a good source of talent in the Gulf, especially multi-national Egyptians with exposure outside Egypt, though there may be a situation where that's intensified because of uncertainty," he said.

Mr Boni did not disclose which companies were involved in talks with Egyptians but said those involved in the financial, industrial and consumer sectors were particularly attractive to Gulf companies.

Saudi Arabia and Dubai are desirable destinations for Egyptians because they are "where all the action is at the moment", he said.

Both locations have largely escaped the social and political unrest that has rocked the economies of other states within the Gulf and Middle East, apart from recent protests in Saudi Arabia's eastern province.

But the kingdom remains in good shape as the benefits of a rising oil price, which has touched highs not recorded in two and a half years, trickle into the economy.

But in Egypt, threats of salary cuts of up to 20 per cent and dismissals within the Egyptian financial sector have prompted active job hunts elsewhere.

Mostafa Abdel Aziz, the head of regional trading at Beltone Financial in Cairo, said the brokerage might cut wages, prompting his colleagues to consider jobs in Qatar.

"People are back to work but no one is working," said Mr Abdel Aziz.

He added that Qatar National Bank and Al Ahli Bank have been in touch to try to recruit his Beltone colleagues.

Qatar has emerged as a source of job opportunities as it looks to firm up its workforce before a huge injection of investment in the country's infrastructure leading up to the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

"There is an opportunity at the moment which Doha is seizing because of all the unrest," said Wassim Karkabi, the Middle East managing partner for Stanton Chase in Dubai and Doha.

"Things will take some time to settle [in Cairo] and meanwhile it is an opportunity for some countries looking for talent, especially Qatar, which is booming and has a specific explosion of projects coming."

Packages offered to prospective employees, who tend to be senior management or chief executives, are "usually north of US$350,000" (Dh1.2 million) on top of a housing allowance, Mr Karkabi said.