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Job & Employment Trends in the Middle East – 2016

The entire Middle Eastern region is expected to display moderate to strong hiring (especially white collar) in the coming year, especially owing to its long-standing policy of diversification away from oil production. According to auditors and market observers PwC, Middle East and Africa (MEA) can expect an increase in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deal flows in the coming year, especially in the areas of education, healthcare, retail and consumer sectors, leading to an increased demand for finance and accounting professionals in these markets. According to UAE’s Ministry of Labour, the UAE labour market is ‘heading towards attracting talent and expertise in specialised and technical professions’.


A negative trend which might hurt the employment is the decline in oil prices in the middle-east region. This can have a negative impact on employment and may include cuts to public sector employment, which is relatively high in the region compared to international standards. Non-GCC countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen – continue to suffer from political instability and geopolitical tensions and hence will display slow economic growth.

According to International Labour Organization’s report - World Economic Social Outlook, Arab states can expect an blue collar employment growth (of 1.6%) in 2016 which may moderately outpace labour force growth and, as a result, improve the unemployment rate marginally to 4.6% by 2017. However, in non-GCC countries, unemployment is expected to remain elevated and increase further to 15.4 per cent in 2016 (improving slightly in 2017).


1. Robert Half’s Executive Insights
2. International Labour Organization’s Employment & Social Outlook 2016