How the UAE has emerged as a hotspot for remote cross-border jobs

International companies are expanding their talent search to tap into a global pool of high-quality jobseekers as the remote working trend accelerates

International companies have accelerated their remote hiring strategies and are tapping into a global pool of professionals to fill roles. Getty
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The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way the world works, triggering a booming remote jobs sector that has led companies to expand their talent search globally - giving employees flexibility and an opportunity to increase their salaries, according to a new hiring report.

The UAE is one country that is emerging as a hotspot for remote cross-border hiring, with companies in Canada, the US, the UK and Israel tapping into a “pool of high-quality jobseekers” looking for full-time remote positions, payroll and remote onboarding company Deel said in its State of Global Hiring Report 2022.

Remote hires from the UAE in the first half of this year have doubled compared with the same period in 2021, the Deel report says without giving exact numbers.

“The UAE has quickly become a global business hub, and having a large pool of skilled human capital is regarded as the foundation of economic growth and international competitiveness,” says Tarek Salam, Deel’s UAE lead and head of Middle East and North Africa expansion.

“The insights from the … report speak to the calibre of talent in the Emirates, as international markets are increasingly looking to the country for mid- to senior-level talent.”

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, employees are leaving their jobs at much higher rates than normal, in what has been called “The Great Resignation”, as they seek a better work-life balance and more flexibility with their jobs.

In March, a survey by financial services company Prudential found that 42 per cent of remote workers will look for a new job if their company does not continue to offer options to work from home in the long term.

This signals that a “war for talent” may be looming if companies do not address workers’ needs, the Prudential survey said.

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, FEB 24, 2016. Jason Leavy, MD of Edelman Dabo. Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National (Reporter: Frank Kane /Section: BZ) Job ID: 27616 *** Local Caption ***  RM_20160224_JASONLEAVY_004.JPG

“By providing access to remote work, companies are seeing increases in employee well-being, productivity, innovation and inclusion; it’s proof that a happy team is a productive team, Mr Salam says.

“We will continue to see an acceleration in remote work adoption. Leaders must rethink their workplace culture to be more inclusive of remote and hybrid work — this is the new normal.”

Meanwhile, 70 per cent of professionals in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have considered leaving or have left their jobs because of a lack of flexibility amid a widening disconnection between employers and employees about returning to the office after the pandemic, according to a survey by LinkedIn in May.

“The impact of the pandemic on how we work has been transformative, and research globally is pointing to an increased urgency for greater flexibility and empowerment in the workplace,” Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn Mena and EMEA venture markets, said at the time.

In recent years, the UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy, has undertaken several economic, legal and social reforms to strengthen its business environment, increase foreign direct investment, attract skilled workers and provide incentives to companies to set up or expand their operations.

The government’s overhaul of a number of visa programmes has also boosted opportunities for employees seeking to work remotely, as international employers increasingly look to the UAE for talent.

In 2019, amendments were introduced to the Golden Residence Scheme to simplify the eligibility criteria and expand the categories of beneficiaries.

The 10-year visa is granted to investors, entrepreneurs, skilled professionals who earn a monthly salary of more than Dh30,000 ($8,167), exceptional talents, scientists and professionals, outstanding students and graduates, property investors, humanitarian pioneers and front-line heroes.

A Green Visa provides a five-year residency for skilled employees without the need of a sponsor or employer. The minimum educational level must be a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and the salary should not be less than Dh15,000.

The UAE also introduced a one-year digital nomad visa in March 2021 that allows people to live in the Emirates while continuing to work for employers in their home countries.

In April, Dubai was ranked as the third-best city in the world for digital nomads to live in, research by real estate consultancy Savills found.

“Businesses are seeing the benefits [of cross border hiring]. Companies no longer have to think about location or other overhead costs. This has huge downstream impacts, everything from company acquisition strategies to supporting local economies, to empowering the global workforce like never before,” Mr Salam says.

“Remote and hybrid working is the future and it is here to stay. Over the past few years, there has been a fundamental shift in the way people work and a wide-scale return to the office now seems highly unrealistic,”

Deel’s research — which was compiled from more than 100,000 worker contracts — indicates that rates of global hiring increased 145 per cent or more in all regions in the first half of 2022, with companies in Latin America and Asia-Pacific leading the way.

Latin American topped the list of regions hiring internationally with a 161 per cent increase, followed by Asia-Pacific with a 159 per cent rise in companies employing workers globally and Europe, the Middle East and Africa ranking third with a jump of 159 per cent.

As well as the UAE, Argentina, the Philippines, India, the UK, and the US are the most attractive countries to hire from, the report adds.

Salaries are also on the rise for remote support, finance and content roles, with Italy, Brazil and India recording the fastest-growing pay increases, it says.

“Given high demand for talent and a shortage of available candidates, companies are looking outside of higher-cost countries to find quality talent,” Deel says in the report.

“As a result, salaries are rising around the world, in particular, Italy, Brazil and India.”

Interest in part-time remote work is also on the rise, particularly in the US, according to FlexJobs, a subscription service for employees seeking flexible and remote jobs.

Searches for “remote, part-time jobs” surged 105 per cent in the first half of this year, says FlexJobs, which analysed 50 career categories in its database from January 1 to June 30.

Demand for product and design roles is shifting from the US to countries such as Argentina and India
Tarek Salam, UAE lead and head of Mena expansion at Deel

“Remote work and flexible schedules are top priorities for workers, so it’s no surprise that in today’s fast-changing work landscape, remote, part-time jobs are gaining serious traction,” says Sara Sutton, founder and chief executive of FlexJobs.

“A part-time career can help you fill employment gaps, earn supplemental income, tap into new skills — and especially when it’s remote — lead to greater job freedom and flexibility.”

Popular career categories for remote part-time work include customer service, education and training, administrative, writing, and accounting and finance, among others, FlexJobs says.

Meanwhile, employers are looking for a wide range of skills and experience when it comes to hiring remote workers in other countries, according to Deel's Mr Salam.

However, skilled technology professionals continue to be the most in demand globally, including software engineers, product designers, and UI and UX designers.

“Demand for product and design roles is shifting from the US to countries such as Argentina and India,” Mr Salam says.

“Finding high-quality people often requires broadening the pool you’re hiring from; if you want great talent that won’t cut into profits, think more globally,” he says.

“For employees and contractors, finding the best job might require working for companies that aren’t based in your home country. This shift is helping people find better opportunities, with salaries on the rise in many developing economies.”

Top 5 remote technology roles

  1. Software engineers and developers
  2. Product designers
  3. Product managers
  4. Graphic designers
  5. UI/UX designers

Source: Deel

Updated: August 07, 2022, 5:13 PM