UAE expatriates thrive in a prosperous job market

Ahmad Mourad, a senior director for du, reveals how graduate degrees are helping professionals like him improve their marketability in a region where being the best is a vision shared by all.

The economic boom in the UAE over the past few decades has changed the country’s job market considerably. The Dubai Financial Market’s General Index was the second-best performer in 2013, and the UAE has been benefiting from billions of dollars of investment across various sectors.

As the construction, financial services, manufacturing and service sectors have grown, the region has been looking to attract the best talent. Because of this, it is too challenging an environment to rely solely on your existing knowledge to improve your marketability.

As a telecoms professional from Beirut, I have been to many countries — including Canada, Syria and Saudi Arabia — but I made the decision to move to the UAE as a result of the opportunities offered by this region.

The UAE Government has outlined, through Vision 2021, its desire to be among the best countries in the world. The ambitious goals of the UAE must be matched by its workforce, and so, upon arrival in the UAE, I realised that it was the collective efforts of UAE and expat professionals residing and working here who would help achieve this vision.

The professional environment here in the UAE is full of individuals committed to personal excellence, driven all the more by the highly ambitious landscape in which they find themselves. My own professional challenge presented itself upon my arrival. How was I to stand out from the rest?

I enrolled in an online doctor of business administration programme, which provided me with an opportunity to showcase my talents and enabled me to expand my expertise and knowledge, while continuing to work. Because of the nature of the programme, I was able to immediately apply the skills and knowledge to my career — and it really made the difference. Second to the oil and energy sector, telecoms and technology service providers have been one of the Gulf’s biggest exports of talents in recent years, and working in such a booming industry meant there were many challenges but also many opportunities.

Companies have ambitious plans for expansion across international markets, and my degree is providing me with the leadership and management skills I need to be successful. Less than 2 per cent of the total workforce in the UAE possesses a doctoral degree, so undertaking this particular degree has offered me even more of an opportunity to set myself apart from my peers and remain competitive in an exciting and growing marketplace.

I think my experience in the UAE job market will resonate with many of my fellow expats. Fewer than 20 per cent of the population are Emiratis, and, as a result, the country has one of the highest net migration rates in the world. The Government has done an excellent job of attracting workers and creating a welcoming and friendly environment in which expats and Emiratis mingle and work together while enjoying the added attraction of a tax-free environment.

Such an attractive environment has encouraged and bred greater competition in the labour market that will continue to do so as more career professionals move here. I am surrounded by like-minded peers, who, like me, have left their own countries to grasp the opportunities offered by this emerging and prospering marketplace.

Ahmad Mourad is a senior director for du and is studying an online doctor of business administration at the University of Liverpool

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Published: May 19, 2014 04:00 AM

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