Upturn in Dubai jobs market is reducing commuters to Abu Dhabi

Take our poll: A growing number of people are ditching the daily Dubai to Abu Dhabi commute in favour of jobs closer to home or a move to the capital where rents are now cheaper.

With an upturn in the Dubai job market, there could be fewer cars on the road in the daily commute to Abu Dhabi, which in turn, has seen decreasing rents to make living in the capital more attractive.
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DUBAI// A growing number of people are ditching the daily Dubai to Abu Dhabi commute in favour of jobs closer to home or a move to the capital where rents are now cheaper.

Two years ago, as the financial crisis took hold and thousands of people lost their jobs in Dubai, the road to the capital saw a huge increase in traffic as Abu Dhabi firms took on new staff.

Now, as the jobs market in Dubai picks up again, more people are starting to taking advantage.

“We are seeing the biggest movements in the finance, human resources, marketing and legal sectors,” said Jennifer Campori, Managing Director of Charterhouse Recruitment in the UAE.

“Dubai is the city most people in the Emirates want to live in.”

Ms Campori said commuters are increasingly looking for jobs in Dubai, and increasingly finding them.

“I think one of the key reasons people are looking is that it’s quite tough to do the drive day in and day out and now with more opportunities in Dubai they have options.

“We also have people who live in Abu Dhabi and commute to Dubai, but we expect them to pretty much continue living in the capital.”

Online recruitment portal GulfTalent.com surveyed 2,100 human resources managers. The general consensus was that recruitment rates in the UAE are likely to increase to 51 per cent in 2012.

According to figures from the site’s Employment and Salary Trends in The Gulf Report 2012, recruitment activity in Dubai increased by 6 per cent in 2011 to 37 per cent.

This followed two years where the jobs market stagnated at 31 per cent, however, it remains some distance behind the 48 per cent activity seen in 2008.

The report puts the increase down to job growth and staff turnover.

“The UAE has strengthened its position as the most popular destination among Gulf-based expatriates,” said the report.

“Qatar, which was rapidly closing the attraction gap with the UAE, remains in second place and has lost some momentum as sentiments about the UAE economy becomes more positive.”

Salary levels in the UAE are expected to increase only slightly from 4.9 per cent last year to 5.1 per cent this year.

The number of job vacancies advertised in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are relatively similar.

According to Ms Campori, jobseekers have changed what they want in an employment package, away from higher salaries to more employee benefits.

“During the boom years the main priority for people was to get paid a high salary.

“However, now there is more of a focus on what kind of benefits they get - employers are offering things like discounted gym membership as a way of attracting people.”

She said recruitment firms will have a better idea how the jobs market will shape up towards the end of the year once there is more certainty about what is happening in Europe and the euro.

Suhail Masri, vice-president of sales at Middle Eastern jobs website Bayt.com, said a total of 4,340 jobs are currently posted for the UAE.

Of these, 1,409 are in Abu Dhabi and 1,489 in Dubai, with the rest distributed between the other emirates.

“The UAE, and specifically Dubai, attract top talent from various countries and not just from within the UAE,” he said.

“Dubai is attractive to different industries and across all career levels.”

According to the website’s Job Index Survey - January 2012 a quarter of companies in the UAE will be looking to hire new staff this year with the vast majority of jobs coming from the private sector.

Mr Masri said the key skills looked for were sales, marketing experience and engineering followed by computer skills and managerial experience.

“On the other hand, the three most desirable skills for UAE employers are good communication capabilities in English and Arabic; the ability to be a team player; and good leadership skills,” said Mr Masri.

“Employers are mostly looking for junior executives, executives, coordinators and senior executives.”