The UAE is gearing up to welcome the world at Expo 2020 Dubai - and the hunt is on to enlist an army of workers to help make the milestone event a mega success.
With less than six months to go until the international extravaganza kicks off, companies are casting the net far and wide for catering staff, marketing assistants and finance professionals to support on-ground activities at the world fair.
Over the past few months, job openings exclusively tailored to the six-month spectacle have started to populate employment websites.
From communications specialists to sous chefs, recruitment experts said organisations have started to create dedicated expo-related roles to enhance their presence at the first Expo to be held in the Middle East, which runs from October 20 to April 10,2021.
Working with three country pavilions at the Expo, Claire Micheletti, managing director at Cosmopole public relations consultancy, said the upcoming event has created an "influx of temporary work".
“Expo will be a busy and intense period and requires a daily presence from our team on-ground at the site,” she said.
“Given other client priorities, it would be impossible to cover the full-time requirements for Expo without additional recruitment.
“We also have specific language requirements for our clients, so it has been necessary to recruit additional staff based on language skills."
So far, Cosmopole has employed a freelance marketing and communications director, project manager and trilingual expert fluent in English, Arabic and French, to cater to the needs of its Expo clients.
“At this stage, the new positions are due to end in May 2021,” Ms Micheletti said.
The Expo 2020 Dubai impact
Direct and indirect gains are anticipated from Expo 2020, with nearly 50,000 full-time jobs per year created between 2013 and 2031, according to a report released last year by consultancy firm Ernst & Young.
The global gathering is predicted to deliver a Dh122.6 billion boost to the UAE’s economy with a rise in employment driven by construction, visitors and business generated at the site, the report said.
During the event, restaurants, hotels, transport, retail, ticket sales, merchandise are expected to bring in a further Dh22.7 billion
Up to 35,000 people are projected to work at the site each day and, to date, more than 1,000 people are directly employed by Expo 2020.
While age range and nationalities for new recruits was diverse across the board, recruitment agents said the preference was to hire candidates locally.
"We have mainly been looking at those who are already on a self-sponsored visa and allowed to work as temporary staff," Naveed Khan, head of sales and talent acquisition at Ultimate HR Solutions in Dubai, said.
"This is because the on-boarding process is cost effective and quicker than hiring candidates from overseas.
"We offer two types of visa options for staff specifically recruited for Expo roles, the first being a mission visa."
This type of permit is issued for professionals who would like to come to the UAE and work with a local company for a specific short-term project.
An employee is considered as a probationary worker under these types of visas. The second is a normal employment visa.
As a registered manpower supplier for Expo 2020, Mr Khan said UNRS has already outsourced a number of roles including tour guides, IT support staff and guest relations.
Students to gain international experience at Expo
Maggy Nagel, commissioner general of Luxembourg at Expo 2020 Dubai, said her team would work with a local recruitment agency to appoint staffers for the fair.
Expo will also draw professionals and students from overseas right throughout the six months.
“There will be local hiring for the Luxembourg pavilion,” she said.
“From the 40 people working in the pavilion during the six months, a certain number will be local because we need people who speak Arabic. Jobs go from assistant to the director of the pavilion to event manager or catering.”
One of the world’s smallest countries has been prepping for months to dedicate a section of its pavilion to gastronomy to whet the appetite of visitors.
Chefs and catering students from culinary and tourism schools will head to Dubai to whip up specially created menus to attract visitors.
“The participation is much higher for this Expo," Ms Nagel said.
"We were in Shanghai in 2010 and there nobody was engaged as much as now with our partners and sponsors. Our first partner was a culinary school in Luxembourg."
A team of four chefs led by a Michelin-star chef are finalising recipes for dishes being created for the Schengen Lounge that will serve a mixture of traditional fare from Luxembourg and international cuisine.
More than 30 students from the Ecole d’Hotellerie et de Tourisme du Luxembourg have been selected to work at the pavilion.
The experience of working in an international venue and handling tourists from across the globe has drawn the interest of culinary schools.
Detailed schedules have already been drawn up for the students visiting in groups and staying between six to 10 weeks.
There are currently 20 Luxembourg companies doing business in the Emirates in logistics, banking, legal consultancy and hospitality and the aim is for more firms to tap into the UAE market.
“One of the aims to participate at Expo 2020 Dubai is to offer a platform for Luxembourg companies to expand their activities and businesses in the UAE,” she said.
Country pavilions a haven for job opportunities
Just recently, Movenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate Dubai was confirmed as the outside catering partner to one of the pavilions during the global fair.
Speaking to The National, general manager Ian Rydin said additional manning would be required.
“These new roles will be sourced out due to the specific culinary expertise required to service the country’s pavilion,” he said.
"We are looking at possibly scouting these talents from our strong network of hotels around the world for the period of Expo 2020.
"These positions are perceived to be temporary and the talents will be moved back to their respective hotels after the mega event."
Andy Georgeson, spokesman at Michael Page recruitment agency in Dubai, said it has also processed a lot of hiring requests for pavilion based roles.
“Large pavilion projects tend to be operationally focused so we are recruiting staff in human resources, marketing, and experiential roles," he said.
“For each pavilion, new recruitment estimates range from 50 to 100 people.
“They have been hired to work on a shift rotation basis and some in head offices, depending on the size of the pavilion.”
Mr Georgeson said having a dedicated Expo resource would allow companies to "focus, penetrate and maximise" the potential for brand awareness.
"Spreading these priorities across the existing team wouldn't drive the impact they desire," he said.
“All pavilion-based roles will be completely removed post Expo, as will many of the roles within the main Expo company itself.”
Workforce and volunteers
Between 20,000 to 35,000 people will work at expo site each day during live event
30,000 volunteers will be on-hand to offer help to visitors
More than 1,000 people directly employed by Expo 2020 Dubai
The workforce will be made up for people drawn from more than 70 countries
More than 200 people under the age of 30 work for Expo
50 per cent of the Expo workforce are women
168 million work hours completed to date on Expo 2020 site
41,000 workers on site during construction phase
Economic impact of expo from 2013-2031
Dh122.6 billion added to UAE's economy
39,000 organisations from 150 countries registered to do business
Getting to the Expo site
The Expo 2020 site is located in Dubai South and is easily accessible to all. There are many modes of transport on-hand to ferry visitors in and out of the event. Licenced taxis are easy to book but most people have been encouraged to make use of the dedicated Dubai Metro which runs along the route 2020 line straight into the site. It is capable of holding up to 36,000 passengers per hour. Hiring a car is also easy with a valid international driving licence.