Dubai’s Expo Win Could Spark Talent War With Qatar

Dubai’s successful Expo bid could result in a tug of war with Doha for experienced regional talent.



A successful Dubai Expo bid could lead to a regional talent war with its GCC neighbour Qatar, according to top recruitment experts.

Major infrastructure projects have increased competition for available regional talent, which will heighten further if Dubai wins the bid to host Expo 2020, experts at London Business School’s Middle East Management Forum said.

The demand in particular would spike for talent in senior leadership across sectors such as industry, construction and technology with both Dubai and Doha hosting global events like the Expo 2020 and Fifa World Cup 2022.

“At this point, the UAE has a significant advantage over Qatar in terms of its existing infrastructure,” said Mark Houghton, managing partner of Odgers Berndtson Middle East, a global recruitment agency.

However, Houghton said that though some senior level changes in Doha have slowed decision-making temporarily, the opportunities in Qatar are set to rise rapidly over the next 12 to 18 months.

According to Andy Flourou, principal, Edward W Kelley & Partners, candidates need to demonstrate a cultural awareness as clients are looking for more than just competent talent.

“Soft skills are equally important to fulfilling the role; including cultural awareness and how easily candidates settle into a new environment,” he said.

“In return, candidates are seeking more than just an increase in compensation with job enrichment and development being at the forefront. This places the onus on employers to deliver and fulfill the promises they make”.

While the UAE and Qatar continue to experience a strong influx of expat talent from Europe and Asia, recruiters are identifying Iran as a potential source market too.

However, recruiters identified talent retention as the most challenging aspect of hiring in Gulf countries owing to their nationalisation policies.

“The impact of nationalisation on retaining, motivating and managing talent is tangible,” said Houghton.