Job market confidence in the UAE has reached a three-year high, with more employers looking to recruit in the next 12 months and workers feeling more upbeat about their salary and job prospects this year, according to data released by a recruitment specialist. 

Almost three quarters (74 percent) of employers in the UAE plan to increase salaries in 2022, compared to 36 percent who did in 2021, while the majority of employees within the Emirati community alone (50 percent) anticipate an increase in their monthly incomes, up on 43 percent who said the same last year, Hays said on Tuesday. 

“Confidence in the market is at a three-year high, with business activity generally above and beyond pandemic levels in the UAE. As a result, we expect a higher number of salary increases to be awarded this year than the past two years,” said Grace Eldridge, business manager of Hays Emiratisation division. 

Overall, there is much optimism in the job market throughout the Gulf region for 2022, with 73 percent of employers saying they plan to increase headcount, up from 53 percent who said the same in the previous survey two years ago. 

Within the UAE, 70 percent expect headcount within their organisation to increase this year, while 79 percent are feeling confident about the outlook for their business. 

Most Gulf professionals (61 percent) who were polled also said they feel positive about their career prospects for the next 12 months. 

These findings were highlighted in two of Hays’ separate reports, the Emiratisation Salary Guide 2022 and GCC Salary Guide 2022

Salary trends 

Within the Emirati community, 48 percent anticipate their salary to remain the same as in 2021, while two percent expect a pay cut this year. 

According to Eldridge, this is the first time they have seen pay hike expectations outweigh those anticipating that their incomes will remain unchanged within the Emirati community. 

“While professionals’ expectations are always slightly inflated above actual market trends, we do think these expectations are relatively realistic,” Eldridge said. 

Looking at salary trends from last year, Hays found that 32 percent of Emiratis received a pay increase in 2021, lower than the 44 percent of expatriate workers who experienced the same. 

However, the average increase in pay was higher for the Emirati community, who were commonly granted a five to ten percent increase, than the expat community, where the most common was an increase of less than five percent. 

For this year, among the UAE nationals who expect a pay rise, the majority anticipate an increase of five to ten percent, while the majority of employers plan to increase salaries by less than five percent. 

“As mentioned above, employees’ hopes when it comes to salaries are always slightly more optimistic than what we see in reality. In line with employers’ expectations, we would expect the majority of those salaries that do increase to do so marginally, by up to five percent,” Eldridge added. 

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Mily Chakrabarty) 

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