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Does the UAE have the Best Career Opportunities for Expats in The Middle East?

Career Opportunities for Expats in The Middle East

The Middle East over the coming years is expected to present more opportunities for expatriates. With foreign direct investment increasing across the region, 100% ownership for foreign companies becoming permitted, World Cup in 2022 in Qatar and Dubai EXPO 2020, there will be opportunities across the region.

For a long time The UAE has been expatriates first choice location when considering positions in the Middle East. Frequently I hear “I would consider this role if it was in the UAE” or “Let me know if anything in the UAE comes up”.

There is nothing wrong with this and every candidate is entitled to their own opinion and desires for their next move. However, what most fail to consider is the amount of competition for positions in the UAE. The UAE is without doubt the most competitive market for expats seeking a position in the Middle East. As an example, I recruited the exact same position for a financial organisation in the UAE and for another country in the Middle East and I received at least triple the interest in the position in the UAE. Employers in the UAE have a lot more options for candidates and the interview process can be quite intense and lengthy.

So whilst there is no doubt the UAE provides expatriates with excellent opportunities, that doesn’t mean they are going to be easily attainable. If a candidate’s preference is to move to the Middle East but are waiting for a role in the UAE to become available, they could be missing out on good career opportunities in the wider Middle East. Therefore I would advise candidates to question, why the UAE is your first choice and do any other countries in the Middle East offer what you are looking for?

Other countries in the Middle East offer excellent opportunities for expatriates. The country which is right for you will depend on the sector you work in, family circumstances and availability of jobs.

Outside of the UAE, I have recruited expatriates to Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Maybe some of these locations wouldn’t immediately come to a candidate's mind when considering roles in the Middle East. However there are currently excellent opportunities within some of these countries right now. Each country has different positives and negatives, which will require careful consideration. Nevertheless, I would encourage candidates to at least consider these countries and hear about the opportunity before saying no. Especially candidates currently not in the Middle East and aiming to relocate to the region for the first time. If the UAE is your preferred location and where you would ultimately like to work, you may need to get regional experience first. Having regional experience makes you more attractive to a new employer and would more than likely increase your chances of obtaining a role in the UAE.

So, the next time a recruiter approaches you for a role outside of the UAE, listen to what they have to say, it might be an excellent opportunity providing the benefits you are looking for in your next move.

Posted by Adam O'Donnell