United Arab Emirates


in 2017


Key drivers

Overall wage pressure (6.9)

A sharp increase in overall wage growth put upwards pressure on the United Arab Emirates’ labour market score.

Labour market flexibility (1.6)

The United Arab Emirates’ flexible labour regulations and low barriers to employment contributed to its lower Overall Index score this year.

Education flexibility (8.6)

The share of the United Arab Emirates’ population holding a degree grew modestly this year. The impact of this score on the economy is limited by the country’s reliance on expat labour.


Education flexibility


Labour market participation


Labour market flexibility


Talent mismatch


Overall wage pressure


Wage pressure in high-skill industries


Wage pressure in high-skill occupation


View from the Ground

Sentiment is increasingly positive for the UAE jobs market in 2018 as oil prices strengthen and the region continues to evolve with transformations taking place across multiple sectors. We have seen the number of available jobs to rise up modestly year-on-year across all industries, but with a significant uplift within the IT profession, as well as strong and ongoing demand for sales and executive-level professionals. IT jobs are being driven largely by an influx of investment in digital transformation projects across all industry sectors and we expect this to continue over the coming months. As ever, the pool of available talent within the region is vast with candidates willingly migrating to the UAE thanks to the low-tax environment and high earning potential this provides.

Chris Greaves, Managing Director, Hays UAE

COUNTRY profile

GDP growth in the United Arab Emirates decelerated in 2017 to its slowest pace since the global recession of 2009; rising by 0.8%. The pace of expansion is forecast to increase in 2018 and beyond.

Of the labour force, 91% are non-citizens, with the remaining 9% citizens. The proportion of people employed is even more heavily skewed towards non-citizens. Keeping the labour market open to migration continues to be the key to the success of the economy. The labour market flexibility indicator therefore has a greater importance than in other countries and arguably the Index score itself.

Key skills in demand

  • Information and Cyber Security Specialists
  • Data Science and Analytics Specialists
  • Digital & IT Transformation Leaders/Executives
  • Application Development & Product Management (mobile and web) Specialists
  • Digital Marketing Managers