Nearly 8 out of 10, 80 per cent, of employers in the UAE plan to increase employees’ salaries this year, reflecting a buoyant job market, competitive talent landscape, and an overall optimistic economic outlook of the regional economy, according to a new survey.

Released by Hays Middle East on Wednesday, the survey found that nearly 7 out of 10 – 69 per cent – of employers in the UAE plan to increase their headcount in 2024 as a majority – 58 per cent – of them feel optimistic about the UAE economic outlook for this year.

Interestingly, nearly half – 49 per cent – of companies in the UAE offer no remote or hybrid options to their employees, according to Hays GCC Salary Guide 2024.

In the past two years, the UAE market saw a massive increase in new job creation as the economy expanded at an exponential pace after the pandemic. However, there was a strong inflow of foreign workers as well into the UAE, which helped to meet the needs of employers looking to expand their workforce.

Oliver Kowalski, managing director, Hays Middle East, said 67 per cent of employers GCC wanting to grow their organisation’s headcount this year shows that there is still great demand for qualified personnel.

“Employee expectations are also clear, they want to be adequately remunerated, which is why 75 per cent expect salary increases in 2024. The labour market is showing signs of great dynamism, with 31 per cent of skilled workers actively preparing to change organisations this year,” he said.

More than 2,300 professionals and employers from the UAE and Saudi Arabia region took part in the survey.

“2024 is shaping up to be another exciting year! The transformation of the economy is continuing at pace, as is the pursuit of the government's long-term goals,” said Kowalski.

52% UAE employees’ salary increased in 2023

While nearly half – 52 per cent – of UAE employees said their salaries increased in 2023, most commonly by up to 5 per cent. This year, even more professionals – 72 per cent – in the UAE expect their salaries to increase. Interestingly, 3 out of 10 employees plan to change their company this year.

According to Hays GCC Salary Guide 2024, 40 per cent of employers said they employ UAE nationals and a similar percentage said they plan to hire Emiratis in 2024.

“Demand for UAE and Saudi Arabia national citizens is high. When hiring managers have a vacancy to fill, they will generally first seek out a skilled, qualified, and experienced national citizen,” it said.

The survey found that employers in the Gulf region are divided on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies or tools in the workplace, with just 41 per cent recommending its use. Most employers say there has been no significant impact on employment due to AI. However, 37 per cent think that AI will eliminate more job opportunities than it will create. To keep up with the changing job market and technological evolution, training is crucial. However, just 14 per cent of employers say they are offering upskilling or reskilling AI training programmes to employees.

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