Majority of Middle East professionals consider switching career paths

Employees want to follow their passions and look for opportunities to learn and challenge themselves, new survey finds

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About 71 per cent of professionals in the Middle East are considering resigning from their jobs and changing their career paths in 2023, a survey by jobs portal and market research company YouGov found.

“Following their real passion” was cited by 37 per cent of respondents to the survey as the top reason they would change their careers. This was followed by 33 per cent who were seeking opportunities to learn and challenge themselves, and 18 per cent who wanted a higher salary, the survey found.

“The way professionals plan their career paths has undergone a rapid transformation,” Ola Haddad, director of human resources at, said on Monday.

“Our latest survey highlights the factors defining career journeys in the Middle East during a disruptive time, including employee expectations, personal goals and financial expectations. In an applicant-friendly market, employers will need to ensure their hiring processes are responsive.”

The survey polled 3,097 people in more than 18 countries in the Middle East, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Lebanon, between July 31 and September 1 this year.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, employees are leaving their jobs at much higher rates than normal, in what has been called “The Great Resignation”. This comes as they seek a better work-life balance and more flexibility with their jobs, with many turning hobbies into viable career options.

In August, a separate survey by and YouGov found that 63 per cent of professionals in the UAE would prefer to be self-employed or have their own business if given the choice.


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Respondents to the survey cited a better work-life balance, personal fulfilment, the ability to give back to the community and a higher income as the top reasons for wanting to start a business in the Emirates, and YouGov said.

The jobs market in the UAE, the second-largest Arab economy, has recovered strongly from the pandemic-induced slowdown on the back of the government’s fiscal and monetary measures.

The UAE has also undertaken several economic, legal and social reforms to strengthen its business environment, increase foreign direct investment, attract skilled workers and provide incentives to companies to set up or expand their operations.

The government’s overhaul of a number of visa programmes, including the golden visa, green visa and digital nomad visa, has also boosted opportunities for professionals to set up their own businesses in the Emirates.

About 41 per cent of those polled by and YouGov said the biggest challenge associated with changing careers was transferring skills and experience. Meanwhile, 27 per cent said finding relevant jobs was difficult and 18 per cent cited understanding a new industry or job role could be a problem.

Fifty-one per cent believe that it is important to obtain additional education and training before changing careers, 38 per cent say it is important in some cases and 11 per cent believe it is not important to gain new skills before switching jobs.

“However, when professionals have the skills that are vital for businesses to succeed, a world of new possibilities opens up to them,” the survey said.

“Today’s workforce may be more mobile but they still are strategic and thorough about the process of switching careers.”

Sixteen per cent say they should stay in their current role for at least a year before they switch to another one and 26 per cent believe they should stay between one and three years.

However, 30 per cent said “it doesn’t matter” how long you stay in one job before deciding to change careers, the survey found.


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Updated: September 20, 2022, 4:30 AM