Mena jobs: More companies plan to hire interns to tap new talent

Customer services, marketing, HR and recruiting are sectors that hire the most number of interns in the region, survey finds

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Seventy-eight per cent of companies in the Middle East and North Africa are looking to hire interns this year as the jobs market improves after the pandemic-induced slowdown, a survey by jobs portal found.

Internships are generally well-regarded in the Mena region as an opportunity to gain valuable work experience and skills, according to the survey, which polled 2,404 people from countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine between January 6 and February 3.

About 92 per cent of respondents believe that internships increase fresh graduates’ chances of getting a job after college, the survey said.

Through internships, students gain hands-on experience of the professional world by performing tasks and duties usually conducted by employees in the chosen field,” said Ola Haddad, director of human resources at

“Our latest survey shows that employers can also benefit from interns in a number of ways, from accessing new talent and skills to increasing productivity. In addition, the data reveals that internships can serve as a bridge between educational institutions and employers.”

The UAE jobs market has made a strong recovery from the coronavirus-induced slowdown, boosted by the government’s fiscal and monetary measures.

Under an overhaul of visa regulations in 2021, teenagers aged 15 to 18 in the UAE can apply for a part-time work permit, although they still need to continue with their education.

It costs employers Dh100 ($27) to apply for the electronic work permit and Dh500 once it is approved. The process can be completed in a day.

Teenagers must have a valid residence visa and their parents also need to give their permission for their children to apply. They are not allowed to work at night in industrial enterprises and must not be hired to do hazardous or strenuous jobs under the UAE labour law.

Under the permit, teenagers are only allowed to work six hours a day and are entitled to one or more breaks totalling one hour. Working overtime or on holidays is prohibited.

Internship opportunities are essential to employment, with Mena organisations hiring more interns, investing in quality programmes and working harder to bring them back as employees, according to

Sixty-five per cent of Mena companies always offer a full-time job to the intern, while 19 per cent sometimes offer a position after the internship is completed, the survey found.

The customer services sector employs the highest number of interns in the Mena region, accounting for 24 per cent of all hiring, said.

This was followed by digital marketing, which hired 22 per cent of all interns in the Mena region, HR and recruiting at 21 per cent, information technology at 17 per cent, accounting, banking and finance at 10 per cent, and graphic design at 8 per cent, the poll found.

When asked about the most important skills companies look for when hiring interns, 61 per cent of respondents cited communication and teamwork skills, 16 per cent picked creativity, 13 per cent said research and analytical skills and 10 per cent highlighted time management.

Internship opportunities offer interns a chance to develop work competencies and professional skills and gain experience that would enable their academic, career and personal development, said.

Seventy per cent of organisations in the Mena region said being able to identify talent for future positions was the most important benefit of hiring interns.

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This was followed by 11 per cent of companies that said hiring interns helped to complete less demanding projects at a low cost, another 11 per cent said it quickly filled temporary and seasonal positions, while 9 per cent said the main benefit was having extra help for small teams or departments, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, 66 per cent of those surveyed said that their university requires them to complete an internship or practical training, while 49 per cent said they would accept an unpaid internship, the findings showed.

Forty per cent of respondents said that universities can help their graduates find an internship by offering job search courses, while 34 per cent said academic institutions can partner with companies to create more internship programmes, according to

Another 17 per cent of those surveyed said universities can post internship opportunities on job sites online and 10 per cent suggested organising on-campus job fairs, the findings revealed.

Updated: February 13, 2023, 9:58 AM