UAE & Gulf employers plan to hire more than 70% in 2022 – and raise salaries too


Salary increases will unlikely be company-wide, and more on a case-by-case basis

Dubai: Confidence within the UAE job market is at a three-year high, with more than 70 per cent of employers looking to add to their workforce or increase salaries in 2022. However, these salary and bonus payments will be on an individual-to-individual basis and not across the board, says a new report from the consultancy Hays.

Across the Gulf, 29 per cent of organisations polled by Hays said they plan to raise salaries by 5 per cent or less, while another 22 per cent said the aim is to hike by 6-10 per cent. At the same time, 20 per cent of firms intend to keep their compensation packages at current levels.

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

The report says that 74 per cent of employers in the UAE are planning some sort of salary hikes for the year against 36 per cent who did so in 2021. “Pay rises are more commonly offered on an individual basis as a result of a professional either ‘starting a new job with a new company’ or an ‘individual performance-related pay increase’ and we expect the same again this year,” said Eldridge.

Our advice to professionals who believe they are deserved of a pay rise, is to be prepared to ask for one. Those who sit and wait from a pay rise may be disappointed 

– Grade Eldridge of Hays

Built around sentiments

Multiple reports have cited steady improvements in UAE’s job market, which accelerated after the start of the Expo in October last. While new job additions slowed down early January over worries about the Omicron variant, that subsided soon enough. The same confidence levels are apparent in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf markets, as oil keeps pushing higher.

According to the Hays’ report, “Of those professionals who took part in our survey, 61 per cent said they felt positive about their career prospects for the next 12 months and 78 per cent of employers are positive about the outlook for their business – up significantly on 54 per cent who felt the same in 2020 and 57 per cent in 2019.

“When asked about hiring intentions for 2022, 73 per cent of employers plan to increase headcount in their organisation, which is again, a significant uplift on the 53 per cent who said the same the prior two years – a further indication that business activity is set to surge beyond pre-pandemic levels. Saudi is booming when it comes to hiring and 80 per cent of employers expect to increase their workforce numbers over the next 12 months.”SOARING EXPECTATIONSLast year, the UAE rolled out the ‘Nafis’ programme to encourage UAE Nationals to take on careers in the private sector. Incentives are also being offered to Emiratis willing to consider making a switch from the public sector to the private.

In the Hays’ survey, there is a steady build up of confidence among UAE Nationals about what they can expect – and get – as salaries and perks.

The latest Hays report found 32% of Emiratis received a pay rise last year, lower than the 44% of expats who experienced the same. However, the average uplift in pay was higher for the Emirati community, who were on average awarded a 5-10% increase, than the expat community, where the most common was less than 5%.

For 2022, of those UAE nationals who expect a pay rise, the majority again anticipate an increase of 5-10%, while the majority of employers plan to increase salaries by less than 5%.

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