x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

One in 10 residents has lost their job

A poll conducted for The National reveals the impact of the recession on UAE life.

One in 10 people in the UAE say they have lost their jobs in the past six months, according to a poll conducted for The National. Almost half say their companies have trimmed their workforce and a quarter say colleagues have been asked to take unpaid leave.

In the second in a series of surveys by YouGov, the international research organisation, 821 people were asked about the impact of the recession on their lives. Because of the law requiring non-GCC residents to leave the country within a month of job loss, the real total figure is almost certainly higher that one in 10. Almost two thirds said close friends or members of their family had lost their jobs.

However, of those who had lost their jobs more than half - 58 per cent - were planning to stay in the UAE and look for another job. A third of the unemployed did plan to leave: 20 per cent were heading back to their home country, six per cent were looking for work in another GCC country and seven per cent were hoping to relocate elsewhere abroad. Eight per cent planned to stay in the UAE and set up their own company.

By a wide margin, the hardest-hit sectors were construction and property, in which 44 per cent and 41 per cent of those questioned knew someone who had lost their job. Of those still in work, 60 per cent said they were considering relocating to another country. However, less than a third said the recession had caused them to accelerate their plans to leave the UAE. More than two thirds (68 per cent) said they were very nervous about their job security, a proportion that fell to 42 per cent among Emiratis.

This concern was shared by men and women of all nationalities and across all age groups, but manifested itself most strongly among Arab expatriates, three-quarters of whom feared for their jobs. Of those in work, 88 per cent expected their salary not to increase as much this year as it did last; 59 per cent said their companies had frozen pay in the past six months. Worst hit in this regard were Westerners (68 per cent), Arab expatriates (62 per cent) and Asians (59 per cent). At 42 per cent, Emiratis were least affected.

Almost 90 per cent of all those surveyed say they felt there was a lack of transparency in the UAE about the current financial situation, a concern felt most widely among westerners (97 per cent). YouGov polled 821 UAE residents between July 1 and July 7. @Email:jgornall@thenational.ae