x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Almost 90 per cent of regional job seekers want to work in the UAE

A study of over 1,500 Arab nationals found that the vast majority think of the UAE as an appealing place to work.

Noha Alfergani, 20, is a student from Libya who is studying computer engineering at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Noha Alfergani, 20, is a student from Libya who is studying computer engineering at NYU Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Nearly nine in ten people in the region want to work in the UAE, a study has found.

Of the 1,502 Arab nationals aged 18 to 24 surveyed, 1,300 (86.6 per cent) said they found the idea of working in the UAE somewhat or very appealing.

"The top attractions for expatriates tend to be the tax-free and perceived luxurious, cosmopolitan lifestyle and the fact the UAE is more liberal than other similar countries in the region," said Adam Gray, the founder of Muaqat, a Dubai-based job and career advice provider.

The survey, conducted for Al Aan TV's Nabd al Arab (Arabs' Pulse) programme by YouGov, aimed to establish attitudes to studying, working and investing in the UAE.

Just 59 respondents (3.9 per cent) said working in the UAE was not appealing, 65 (4.3 per cent) said the idea was somewhat not appealing and 78 (5.2 per cent) said they were unsure.

"I think the political and social stability in the UAE right now has a huge part to play," said Amanda White, managing director of Innovative Human Resource Solutions, in Dubai.

"Economic stability is another factor and I think this, for many nationals in Arab countries, provides an attractive opportunity to come and work here."

She added: "Certainly, for many of the Arab nationals who are English and Arab speaking, the work and opportunities are open for those who are motivated and want to succeed as they can communicate with both locals and expatriates.

"In this way they can provide a vital link for many businesses here. They are in an enviable position."

Of those who said they would look for job opportunities in the UAE - the majority (72.8 per cent) would pick Dubai as their first choice, over Abu Dhabi (19.7 per cent) Sharjah (5.6 per cent), and Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah or Umm Al Quwain (all fewer than one per cent).

This is because jobseekers have a "mystical" view of what Dubai is like, Mr Gray believes.

"Many exhibit the 'streets are paved with gold' mentality," he added. "A lot are looking for a better life, are ambitious and prepared to work hard to achieve their goals. When they look at how Dubai has transformed itself it offers them hope that they can achieve the same."

Ms White said she believed many favoured Dubai for the social benefits.

"I think it is a lifestyle choice really," said Ms White. "In some ways Abu Dhabi can offer a better pay reward so I think it is definitely the lifestyle choice with Dubai."

More than half (54.8 per cent) of the 1,300 people who would like to work in the UAE said they would stay in the country as long as they had a job. A further 21.2 per cent said they would work for between four and ten years before returning home.

The majority of those interested in working in UAE said they would be happy in either the private or public sector.

The most popular field was IT, which attracted interest from one in five of the 1,300. The next-most favoured sectors were education (12 per cent), banking and finance (11.2 per cent) and oil and gas (11 per cent). Architecture, healthcare, retail and leisure were also popular.

Standard of living was the top motivation for jobseekers, followed by salary, stable government and opportunities for job development.

"Dubai by far is one of the nicest places in the Middle East to live in," said Dana Shadid, a project manager at Al Aan TV.

"Working here is a huge plus because the country is packed with multi-national companies that offer you incredible experience - be it the job itself or working with people from all over the world, the experience can later open other windows of opportunity."

Participating countries in the study included Algeri, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, KSA, Sudan, Syria, Tuisia and Yemen.

The results of the study will be broadcast tonight on Al Aan TV's Nabd Al Arab (Arabs' Pulse) programme.

jbell@thenational.ae