United Arab Emirates

  • 4.6




Key drivers

Wage Pressure in High-Skill Industries (0.7)

The wage gap between high-skilled and low-skilled industries has fallen, reducing the UAE’s industry wage spread.

Education Flexibility (8.6)

The UAE has among the lowest share of graduates in the population of the 34 markets featured within the report, limiting the supply of indigenous skilled labour.

Labour Market Flexibility (1.6)

The UAE has a very open economy. For example, non-residents made up 92% of Dubai’s population in 2018.


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

Job flow in the UAE for the past 12 months has been much the same as in 2018. Low energy prices have restricted growth in job numbers, but momentum in the non-oil sectors continues to strengthen and we expect job creation to increase. The most significant and busiest area of hiring is the IT sector, which is driving confidence right across the economy. We are seeing organisations from all industries invest heavily in the digital transformation of their outdated processes and procedures, enabling them to better compete on a global scale and which is then increasing demand for added headcount to deal with this surge in capability. In terms of available talent, the region is saturated with jobseekers. People with very specialist niche skills (such as in solar, AI etc.) can be harder to find but the tax-free environment and high earning potential are significant pull factors for relocating to the region.

Chris Greaves, Managing Director, Hays UAE

Key Skills in Demand

  • Regional Business Managers
  • Digital Marketing Specialists
  • Application Developers (Full Stack, Frontend, Backend)
  • Product Managers (Head of Product, Product Manager)
  • Data Scientists

Market Insight

The economy recovered from the slowdown of 2017. The medium-term outlook for growth outside the oil sector is positive, thanks to greater investment, stronger prospects among trading partners and future tourism gains.

The boom in US shale oil production has lowered oil price forecasts, which will negatively impact oil sector growth in the UAE. To avoid risks associated with oil, the Government plans to diversify the economy and reduce the contributions of oil to GDP from 30% to 20% by 2021. The Government also continues to rebalance the economy away from the public sector through modification of the public-private sector balance of incentives for Emirati nationals, in a bid to increase Emirati private sector employment.

To support the region’s attractiveness to high-skill migrant labour, the Government has approved plans to offer long-term visas of 10 years to highly qualified scientists and researchers, and 5-year visas to entrepreneurs and outstanding students, beyond the current 3 years.