Looking back at Q1 in the UAE office: Is this the Cautiously Optimistic Year…?

11th April 2017

Q1 is over and it’s showing signs of being a year like no other! I’m asked every day by clients and candidates how we’re doing and how the markets are fairing, so I thought I’d write down a few honest words and my opinions of how things look in Dubai.

It’s quite clear that 2017 is set to be a very interesting for those working at the Dubai office. We’re a growing business of 26 people across three offices, so I’m much more in tune with the global markets and 2016 provided many lessons.

Dubai is our headquarters and where most of our staff are based. 

Our recruitment business has started the year off pretty much how it ended in 2016, with our contingent arm very busy with a high volume of positions. Some divisions of our business are busier than they’ve ever been, such as: Tech, PR, Creative and Sales. The continued growth of digital has meant that our tech division is a major contributor to our business these days. However we’ve also seen a clear slowdown in other areas. Agencies, especially media agencies have slowed hardest and fastest with brand and advertising agencies also being squeezed by tightening client budgets and increased competition from new smaller players to the market.  

The HR market is still quite depressed, but this is countered by strong demand for finance professionals, where our business Kemistry has scored most of it’s successes in Q1.

Generally, the pace of business in Dubai and across the GCC is still quite slow, with recruitment cycles in some instances having almost doubled in time when compared to three/four years ago. Businesses are spending cautiously, but we also have to factor in other circumstances, such as an increased number of candidates to the market and increasing popularity in Dubai as a place to live/work. Processes do move faster when the talent pool is small and the fastest moving positions we have seen are in development, Arabic copywriting, digital design and Arabic speaking media sales execs.

Our data from 2016 showed that the senior end of the market went relatively static. In 2017 things seem to have picked up, and we now have a steady stream of senior positions, but it is yet to return to the levels we witnessed in 2014/15.

Our business ‘Hopscotch’, which is a platform for professional women, is busier than ever and we had our first Hopscotch conference take place at Careers Fair UAE, which was a great success. The current market conditions seem to be favouring a cost effective and flexible hiring approach, in which Hopscotch can prosper – 90% of our candidates already hold UAE visas. 

Retention and training seems to be key for all clients and our L&D arm is progressing well with plenty of proposals out with clients.

So in summary, things are improving and the market in better shape than it was in 2016. Things won’t change overnight, but we at MCG& certainly feel we’re heading in the right direction. 

Catch-up soon and have a successful Q2 everyone!

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