Employment Outlook: Dubai

Employment Outlook Apr 21, 2021 No Comments
employment outlook Dubai

A look at the Emirate a year into the coronavirus pandemic.

By Mary Anne Thompson, founder, and president, GoinGlobal, Inc.

Dubai is one of the seven emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates (UAE) federation. It is the most populous of the emirates and home to many international schools and venues that serve its numerous foreign-born residents.

The city has a strong, diversified economy and is now considered a leading financial, business, and transportation hub not only of the UAE but also of the Gulf Cooperation Council, comprising the countries of Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman.

Dubai stands out as the global city with the lowest unemployment level in the world (0.5%). The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the city’s economy and labor market. Economic growth contracted by more than 6% last year.

The stimulus packages that the Government of Dubai implemented successfully mitigated the effects of the confinement measures the national administration imposed over the whole country. The postponement of the World Expo in Dubai continues to bring promising opportunities to the city. The event is the first World Exposition to take place in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region.

The ongoing governmental economic support and the fast-tracking of the COVID-19 immunization process are expected to bring increased investments and jobs to the city in the coming 12 months.

  • Experts foresee that Dubai’s economy will grow by 4% in the coming year.
  • After months of limited employment opportunities, Dubai’s private sector is hiring again, particularly among retail and wholesale businesses.
  • Entry-level opportunities are growing again in the city.
  • Employment in construction is expected to regain strength as many new projects are beginning in the next few months.

Foreign residents make up 90% of the country’s workforce, and Dubai is very dependent on external talent. While much of this labor is employed in low-skilled positions, many qualified foreigners are hired in many leading sectors of the city. In recent months, low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic have caused many of these foreigners to leave the UAE. As an easier way to retain top talent, the country has recently begun offering citizenship to foreign professionals, particularly among investors, doctors, engineers, specialized experts, and artists.  

Areas of Job Promise

Postponed World Expo:

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Expo in Dubai has been rescheduled to run later this year. This is expected to bring new strength to the city’s diverse economy, particularly in the tourism, retail, construction, and real estate sectors.

Health Care:

Within the country’s blueprint for future economic development, there is the expansion of health care infrastructure and investment in medical research. Mena Research Partners predicts the nation’s health care sector will expand by 60% by the end of this year, fueled by growing medical tourism, cosmetic and day surgery, new innovative therapies, and health digitization sectors. The nation recently launched the world’s first comprehensive electronic medical tourism portal, Dubai Health Experience, which provides streamlined health, travel, hospitality, and visa services for medical tourists. In this context, doctors and nurses are among the most in-demand occupations in the city.

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, some sectors in the city have demonstrated resilience. The following list includes the most in-demand job areas in Dubai today, according to recent research by Robert Half:

  • Accounting and finance
  • Security management
  • Digitalization and AI
  • Recruitment and HR
  • Legal services
  • Engineering specialists
  • Data entry experts
  • Administrative assistants
  • Social media and digital marketing
  • Software development
  • Education and teaching
  • Tourism and hospitality


In HSBC’s most recent Expat Explorer Survey, the UAE received high marks for earnings, wage growth, and disposable income. Today, the country is considered the seventh-best international destination when it comes to income opportunities among global career professionals.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused major changes in the economic and employment market of the UAE, and average salaries have reflected such disruptions. While the economy is expected to recover in the coming terms, recruitment experts expect salaries to remain stable or unchanged in the next 12 months. Some employers are considering compensating such a general lack of wage growth with new professional incentives and benefits, such as remote working agreements, childcare support, and subsidies to encourage personal and professional development while teleworking.

The average annual salary in Dubai is around 113,000 AED.

In Conclusion

Last year, the coronavirus pandemic slowed projects and forced the cancellation of major events in the UAE’s most populous emirate, but optimism is rising for a healthier and economically improved 2021. Various job sectors are gaining confidence and beginning to hire again, as Dubai moves to a more business-as-usual approach.

Access to GoinGlobal’s resource database is provided through subscribing institutions. Contact your school’s career center or library for access instructions. Login to your GoinGlobal account here.

Mary Anne Thompson

Mary Anne Thompson founded GoinGlobal, Inc. more than two decades ago as a result of her own experiences job hunting in Sweden. She believes that to uncover the real job opportunities, you need the experience and personal insights of trained local specialists. Mary Anne continues to be an active CEO who shares her strategies and insights directly with clients to help them strategically maximize GoinGlobal’s unique resources.