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Dubai: A land of recruitment opportunity

Marcos Simonetti, SThree’s regional director of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, discusses how recruiters are thriving in Dubai through investment in infrastructure and tech


The majority of my career has been spent in Europe but when I told my family that I was moving to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), they were really excited for me. It’s a similar story for a lot of expats, with many people in the US and Europe looking at Dubai as a land of opportunity and prosperity.


What I've found since coming out here is that the number of opportunities for recruiters is increasing every year as more and more businesses are ready to tap into Dubai’s potential.  For those of us in the recruitment industry, the UAE has historically been dominated by the energy and construction sectors, with huge scope for attracting the best talent from throughout the Middle East and from the rest of the world. And with industries like tech growing rapidly, as the UAE and its businesses compete on the world stage, recruitment has never been so important.


At SThree, we’ve seen this first-hand. Our fastest growing business is our tech business, because companies are investing heavily in areas such as digital, big data and cyber security. This month we’ll be opening a new office in Dubai to give us the capability to double our headcount and double the number of candidates we interview day-to-day. It all bodes well for the future of the recruitment industry in Dubai, and particularly for those who specialise in STEM recruitment.


The career and business opportunity


Coming to Dubai is a really rich experience for recruiters. There is a steep learning curve and so many opportunities to grow a career here. Dubai is a hub for the three continents; Africa, Europe and Asia, so not only is there an opportunity to work in a variety of markets, but in the UAE there is a very favourable tax environment, meaning recruiters can keep more of their hard-earned commission.


Infrastructure around healthcare and education is moving forward through massive investment, with the aim of future-proofing the country and making Dubai, in particular, a world-class commercial hub. Next year we have the 2020 Expo in Dubai and there are exciting plans to transform the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) into a major fintech hub. Elsewhere in the Middle East, as part of the 2030 vision for Saudi Arabia, there will be huge investment across all sectors.


Patience and continuity are key


So, the potential is clear, but to succeed recruiters must remain patient while embracing all of the opportunities that Dubai has to offer. To master recruitment in Dubai, you’ve got to have a medium to long-term view. A lot of the candidates being placed are relocating, so there are extra levels of knowledge required and recruiters must immerse themselves in their new surroundings to truly understand the commercial and cultural landscape.


Clients in Dubai and across the Middle East want continuity, and to achieve that, many of the expats SThree has hired are looking to stay for five years or longer. That benefits candidates, clients and our people who can build and grow professional relationships over the long-term.  In our Huxley and Progressive brands in Dubai, around 75% of our people were either born in the UAE or have been educated at some level in the country.


The results have been that retention of our people has increased and our Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS) has risen considerably. All of this means we can have the continuity that our clients crave, making it easier to build trust.  Of course, we still want to attract the best and most talented expats, but they have to be serious about coming to Dubai.


My message to those thinking about moving to Dubai or anywhere else in the Middle East, is that it has to be right for you but there is an amazing opportunity here for those willing to make the move.


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