5 Hiring Trends Influencing Business in the Middle East

5 Hiring Trends Influencing Business in the Middle East

As an aspiring Executive or CEO it is your responsibility to keep up to date with the latest trends influencing the hiring decisions in your company and region.

Particularly in the interview process, it is useful to have ideas about how you are aiming to tackle these problems when you come into office.

Here are the top 5 trends influencing business in the Middle East currently.


With a growing number of youth unemployment across the region, almost every state in the GCC have introduced legislation encouraging these nations to hire more nationals and less expatriates.

With 11.3 million expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia, their nationalisation policy dubbed “Saudisation” is arguably the most heard of plan, but that doesn’t mean other countries aren’t as significant. Oman is seeing no new visas issued for expats who leave employment and wish to return, Kuwait needing to reserve 30% available jobs for Kuwaitis (in the private sector) and additional fees are imposed in the UAE for those companies not employing enough national workers.

Despite these policies, expat workers remain high in demand, but as a c-level executive, such developments are an important consideration as to how you meet the nations corresponding laws. It pays to do your research on each country before interviews.

Female leadershipFemale Empowerment

With an eye to employ greater amount of nationals, employment of females is another focal point. Gender inequality has come to the fore globally and in the Middle East of late and one that has received extra attention from groups such as the United Nations. 

Not one country in the Middle East ranked within the top 100 in the Global Gender Gap Report, it is an obvious problem, a problem studies suggest are meaning businesses are losing out on.

An increased number of females enrolling at University has also been an influential factor business leaders will had to take into consideration moving forward.

For example, in Qatar, there are double the amount of female enrolments at university than their male counterparts. Although this is the best example for the region, as a whole, female enrolment numbers are exceeding males. 

With the first female pilots now able to fly in the region and Iranian women able to attend public sports events, gender equality is at the forefront of not only companies, but governmental minds also. 


With the digital age firmly upon us, a greater focus on leveraging the digital side of business has become a vital component to affect bottom line. With everything going digital, Big Data and Internet of Things have changed the way business is conducted, requiring more employees in that sector to relay information back to the c-suite office.

A greater investment in analytics will be paramount in order to give the company a greater consumer insight, leading to cost reduction and a more accurate report on which avenues to invest in and also how much.

Data security becomes vital also, with risk and security officers likely to be employed, as companies seek to protect intellectual property from cyber crime. With cloud becoming the preferred means of data storage, its safety and protection of such information remains a concern as employees are able to access this information from all over the world.

IT Business Executives

Employee Agility

As we have just mentioned, technology and Internet has made work more accessible and mobile than ever before.

Company HR departments are using this agility to incentivise compensation packages by offering solutions (for those with families) such as flexi-hours or hours where they can work from home.

The traditional 9-5 (or agreed upon hours) seems a thing of the past and how your company manages this agile working environment seems a strategy influencing employee motivation, engagement and productivity.

It also means that regional managers and other senior executives needing to travel frequently have less time away from business, being able to tap into work related information right through their smartphone.

This may, however, present a problem for those regional managers in the Middle East due to stricter immigration laws. Particularly if working from one of Dubai’s free zones, being caught working elsewhere (whether in Dubai or another country) can cause major headaches for an HR department.

‘Working’ is becoming easier than ever, but a strong understanding of where your employees can work, particularly expats, will be essential. 


With an ageing population, healthcare is one of the industries that is booming, with dozens of new hospitals to be built in the region in the next decade and 82% of employers looking to increase their headcount.

With an increase in government investment many of the GCC countries are now required to provide health insurance for all employees. An interesting proposition and something you need to be aware of as a future CEO.

It could also be worth considering moving into this sector in the future for greater opportunities.

If you need help securing an executive position in the Middle East, Career Intelligence specialises in Senior Management and C-suite positions. Upload your CV to start searching for the latest hidden vacancies and a free CV appraisal to see how your CV stands up in the competitive online job market.

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About the author

Michael O'Keeffe

A graduate from Fairfield University in New Media with a particular focus on Television, Michael has worked in social media since graduation. His expertise will offer a variety insights into how you can penetrate into the saturated executive job market.

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