Hiring activity in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region surged in 2021 and will continue to pick up in 2022, as economies have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, according to a new analysis by recruitment specialist Cooper Fitch. 

Overall job creation across the region, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, jumped by 40 percent in the last quarter of 2021 compared to the same time in 2020, driven primarily by a significant recovery in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. 

Significant increases in hiring were observed in real estate, public, software development, cyber security, sales and marketing sectors. There was also more hiring activity within human resources, banking and digital roles. 

In its latest Gulf Employment Index released on Monday, Cooper Fitch noted that the Gulf economy showed signs of recovery in the second half of 2021 and this was significantly driven by rising production levels and oil prices, as well as easing of COVID-19 restrictions. 

“[The] economic indicators look positive, with the [International Monetary Fund] forecasting the economic recovery for the Middle East to accelerate to 4.4 percent in 2022, after initial estimates of 3 percent were revised,” Cooper Fitch said. 

Quarterly indicators 

On a quarterly basis, however, employment levels appeared to have slowed down slightly, posting only a 2 percent growth in the last quarter of 2021 compared to the previous quarter of the same year. 

Among the GCC states, Saudi Arabia topped the hiring charts at 21 percent, followed by Oman (12 percent), Kuwait (11 percent), Bahrain (9 percent) and Qatar (8 percent). The UAE, for its part, saw a quarter-on-quarter decline of 6 percent, but Cooper Fitch attributed the overall and UAE’s slowdown to the holiday period. 

“It is very important to look at the overall growth of the UAE in 2021 compared with 2020. The UAE typically has a slight slowdown in larger parts of the job market [such as banking, consulting, strategy], as they wait to understand year-end performance. These numbers typically get seasonally adjusted,” Trefor Murphy, CEO of Cooper Fitch, told Zawya. 

Where the jobs are 

Among the job markets included in the review, the public sector registered the highest quarter-on-quarter increase in employment levels at 25 percent.  

Hiring was also strong in real estate, up by 16 percent, as well as in banking (14 percent), legal private practice (9 percent), legal in-house (8 percent) and advisory (5 percent). 

There was a slowdown in hiring in the manufacturing sector, which posted a decline of 14 percent, as well as in supply chain, down by 11 percent; investment (-9 percent); finance (-5 percent) and senior finance (-4 percent). 

For the year ahead, Cooper Fitch said it is forecasting “high single-digit” increase in job creation across each of the countries in the Gulf region. 

“The GCC looks set for a positive employment year in 2022 with each country focused on delivering against their medium and long-term strategies around job creation,” the report said. 

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria) 


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