Salaries in the Middle East are anticipated to increase by an average of 2 per cent this year, according to a new report by consultancy Robert Walters.
The year will have a flat start, but “modest gains” are anticipated in the second half of the year.
“Despite the slump in the price of oil over the last 24 months and subdued business confidence, economic growth in the run up to Expo 2020 will increase demand for talent across legal, finance, sales and marketing, procurement and IT in 2017,” the report stated.
The strongest salary growth of 3 per cent is expected in the procurement and supply chain sector while professionals in sales and marketing can anticipate a 1.5 per cent wage hike.
“The UAE job market was adversely affected by a variety of factors over the course of 2016, including political instability in the Middle East, the low price of oil, China stagnation and a strong dollar,” said Jason Grundy, Robert Walters country head – Middle East.
“This resulted in employers focusing on optimisation of supply chain functions due to changes in consumer behaviour. However, as the economy improves we expect positive growth in 2017.”
Improvement in the sales and marketing sector depends on the growth in oil prices, he opined.
“If oil prices move above $60 a barrel in 2017, it will lead to an increase in government spending and a rise in consumer confidence,” said Grundy.
“Organisations will therefore gradually grow their sales and marketing functions to help them drive sales and profitability.”
Financial services recruitment continues to be challenging, especially in the UAE.
“With 23 local banks and 28 foreign banks in the UAE alone we expect more consolidation in this sector,” said Grundy.
Hiring in accounting and finance was also flat in 2016, but the market is hoped to improve this year.
“This is partly a result of large organisations opening shared service centres which will drive an increase in core finance and accounting hires,” explained Grundy.
“Roles such as financial planning and analysis managers, financial business partners, as well as senior tax professionals, will be in high demand as the GCC prepares for the introduction of VAT in 2018.”
The one sector which is likely to to see increased job openings is the hotel and hospitality sector.
Dubai announced this week that it received nearly 15 million visitors in 2016, an increase of 5 per cent year-on-year.
“Dubai’s ambitious target of 20 million visitors a year by 2020 is still on track. The government is removing obstacles to entry, including visas on arrival for Chinese visitors, and it wants to attract tourists from a wide range of countries,” said Grundy.
“This, along with widespread economic stimulus in the run-up to Expo 2020, will increase talent demand in the areas of legal, finance, sales and marketing, procurement, IT and strategy into the hotel and hospitality sector.”
Overall, much of the region’s hiring growth depends on the oil market.
“With speculators now holding net-long positions on oil in the markets, this bodes well for the region’s economy in general and a vote of confidence for OPEC,” said Grundy.
“I’m optimistic for 2017.”