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Saudi Arabia leads in Gulf job creation

Dubai, April 19, 2010

Expatriates are more likely to secure a new job in Saudi Arabia than in any other country in the GCC, according to the latest employment data released by, a leading Middle East online recruitment firm.

The number of expatriate employees in the kingdom rose by an estimated 2.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2009, followed by Qatar with a 2.2 per cent increase. Oman also showed a marginal rise, with a 0.3 per cent growth.

Massive spending by the Saudi government on infrastructure projects has helped maintain economic activity during the global economic downturn, while growth in Qatar has been fueled by the country’s continued exploitation of its huge gas reserves, the third largest in the world.

Based on the survey results, Kuwait, UAE and Bahrain saw a drop in the number of expatriate employees during the fourth quarter, with declines of 2.8 per cent, 4.2 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively.

The UAE economy was hit hard last year by the slowdown in the real estate market and the virtual freeze in lending. Bahrain and Kuwait have been heavily impacted by the exposure of their banking and investment sectors.’s findings are consistent with trends in money transfers by expatriates. Based on official data and analyst estimates, outward remittances from Saudi Arabia increased 12 per cent in 2009 relative to the previous year, while remittances from the UAE fell 15 per cent over the same period.

The survey also showed that job prospects for expatriate employment in the GCC vary between sectors. Headcount in the logistics sector rose 3 per cent in the last quarter of 2009. The retail and consumer goods sector came in second place with overall headcount increasing 2.6 per cent.

In contrast, real estate and oil & gas were the fastest shrinking sectors, with headcount falls of 7.8 per cent and 4.7 per cent respectively.

In terms of job categories, the number of sales jobs expanded by 3.5%, possibly indicating growing market optimism, with companies bracing themselves for increased customer demand in 2010, the study reveals.

There was a decline in the number of expats employed in finance and administration roles, with net falls of 3.1 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively, as firms continued to rationalise back office functions and seek efficiencies. Engineering jobs faced a net reduction of 2.6 per cent as new project starts did not fully absorb all the engineers being released from recently completed projects.

Though overall headcount showed a net increase in several countries, all parts of the region witnessed some job cuts during the fourth quarter of 2009.

Based on’s findings, over half of those losing jobs were able to secure another job within the region, while around one-third returned to their home countries. The remainder either took up full-time education, started their own business, opted for retirement or continued to look for employment opportunities.

Among expatriate groups, Western nationals were most likely to return to their home countries upon loss of employment, with 55 per cent doing so, compared with 37 per cent of Asian expatriates and only 18 per cent of Arab expatriates.

Qatar had the highest rate of redundant employees returning home at 54 per cent, in part due to strict laws prohibiting employees from switching employers.

The UAE had the highest proportion of unemployed expatriates remaining within the country and continuing to look for jobs – reflecting both the challenging employment environment as well as the popularity of the country with expatriates, with many reluctant to leave.

Despite the uneven nature of employment prospects, survey participants in all six GCC countries expected to see a net increase in employment in 2010.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Jobs | | Recruitment | Employment |

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