Hotel boom drives a flood of new jobs

A surge in hotel openings prompted by Expo 2020 will create more jobs at all levels of the industry

The Radisson  in Dubai Media City will be joined by nearly 100 more hotels as Dubai gears up for Expo 2020. Photo: Silvia Razgova / The National
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The UAE’s booming hospitality sector is good news on several levels. It serves as proof that the economy is diversifying away from direct reliance on extractive industries and it reflects the boost the UAE economy is already receiving from Expo 2020 in Dubai. And of particular importance is the chance for highly-skilled and high-paying jobs in a sector where Emirati participation has traditionally lagged far behind expatriate workers.

As The National reported yesterday, online recruitment activity in the hospitality sector is up by 34 per cent compared to a year earlier. This is not just in Dubai but across the UAE, where the growth of hospitality jobs is outpacing all others sectors in the economy.

The growing importance of the Chinese market to UAE tourism is reflected in Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental hotel chain’s decision to make its first foray into the Gulf market with a 200-room luxury hotel in Jumeirah scheduled to open in 2017. Starwood, already one of the largest hotel groups with 22 properties across the Emirates, is due to open 10 hotels by the middle of 2017. Even its existing hotels are looking for nearly 400 new staff.

This expansion means jobs, and lots of them. Hospitality is a people-intensive industry and the sector employed 291,000 people last year. However, many of these jobs are semi-skilled service positions and that bias towards lower-wage jobs is part of the reason why this is an industry in which Emiratis have traditionally been under-represented.

But the growth of the industry overall means more management-level jobs of the highly-skilled and well-paid variety that the UAE has been targeting for its citizens. The management skills required for hospitality tend to involve high levels of people management, making them more transportable across sectors than the highly technical jobs often found in extractive industries.

The best part of the booming hospitality sector is the way it will have a flow-on effect to other industries, such as retail, as the predicted 91 new hotels being built in Dubai open for business.