x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Job seekers lured to UAE

Worried professionals seeking refuge from the global credit crisis are inundating companies with job applications.

Passengers line up for passport control at the arrivals section of Dubai International Airport.
Passengers line up for passport control at the arrivals section of Dubai International Airport.

ABU DHABI // Worried professionals anxiously seeking refuge from the global credit crisis are inundating recruiters and companies with job applications. One recruitment company reported a 10-fold jump in applications in the past two months. Bankers, estate agents and financial staff from the United States and Britain are leading the charge as shocks to the world economy force companies to consider cutting jobs.

They are drawn to the UAE and its economic and employment boom, which so far has escaped the worst effects of the credit crunch. Richard Ross, London manager of recruitment consulting firm UAE Staffing, said: "As soon as the credit crunch started we got a lot more applications from the real estate, finance and construction sectors." Perhaps underscoring the nervousness in job markets abroad, some applicants have taken to making personal pleas too, Mr Ross said.

"People do not just send their résumés, but also write about the problems they are facing. You have guys who have worked in the property business for 12 years who have not been able to sell anything for three or four months." Mr Ross said the number of applications from the US, especially, had increased several fold since August. "We used to get five résumés a day from the US. Now we can get 50. But this is only the tip of the iceberg; I'm sure it will get even busier. The UAE right now is one of the top 10 spots in the world for jobs."

Nizar Lalani, UAE manager for recruiters Antal International, said applications from North America and Western Europe had doubled since June. "There is a lot of downsizing and people are scared of being laid off because they have seen it happen to their colleagues. "A week back, I met a guy who received an offer from Lehman Brothers and he was about to join them when it all collapsed. He had not resigned from his job, luckily, but he could see his company was going the same way so he decided to explore the market here.

"Dubai has marketed itself very well. It is providing growth and opportunities, quality of life and a secure environment." Mr Lalani said there were enough jobs to cope with the rising demand because the rate of growth was so high in the UAE. According to Google Insights, which tracks rising trends by analysing the number of Google searches, queries for "jobs" and "Dubai" as well as "jobs" and "Abu Dhabi" have never before been as popular as in the past month.

People from Australia, the US, Britain, Canada, India and Pakistan in particular have been seeking jobs in Abu Dhabi. Searches for jobs in Dubai peaked on Sept 29, two weeks after the Lehman Brothers bank collapsed. Abu Dhabi peaked the next day. Natalie Harris, 34, a former asset manager from London who recently returned to Britain from Thailand, is visiting the UAE on a three-week job hunt. "Hiring is taking longer in the UK and people are a lot more selective about who they hire," she said. "It has really changed from a year ago.

"Everything sounds so much more positive in the UAE, and people are more optimistic. "A lot of people are going over to the UAE and most people know at least one person who is there, so you hear good feedback." William Buck, the Middle East director of the recruiting firm Macdonald and Company, said applications from North Americans and Europeans looking to work in the UAE property sector had tripled in the past six months.

Partly as a result of the boom, his company had hired more staff. "Over the last two months in particular, we have been inundated," he said. "If you are a property professional who has been involved in developing projects right from the beginning, there is a job for you. "But the first batch of CVs we started getting this summer were all from people with experience in property investment, who were the first people to be hit by the credit crunch. There are just not that many jobs of that kind in this part of the world."

Mr Buck said there was a risk of applicants seeking to move to the UAE as an escape only, without being committed to several years of work. "You used to get a certain type of person coming to work here. But how can you guarantee they are committed to staying here now? "Is it a stopgap for them or a long-term commitment? Who knows? But we are certain to get more people coming here for the short term."