How Ramadan affects the Dubai job market

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Dubai continues to be a popular option for European professionals looking for a new challenge – as of 2016, expats made up 7.8 million of the 9.2 million residents of the UAE.1 If you’ve recently made the move, or are considering moving to the Middle East in the next few weeks, you’re bound to see Ramadan in full effect and notice the affect it has on the country’s job market.

As an Islamic country, Dubai is affected by the religion’s holidays and traditions. Just one of these is Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims around the world abstain from eating, drinking or smoking between sunrise and sunset. Lasting about a month, it marks the time when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

This year, Ramadan starts on May 17, so for the next month, there are large-scale changes to nearly every industry in Dubai, including hospitality, professional services, retail, recruitment and tourism.

What is Dubai like in Ramadan?

From May 17 to June 14, it is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public during the daylight hours and it’s advisable to dress conservatively. It is perfectly fine to eat and drink in specially screened-off areas, such as food courts and hotel restaurants. Many cafés and restaurants remain open during Ramadan with a curtain in front. Most bars open for regular business and still serve alcohol but no live music or loud music is allowed.

For tourists, there are better hotel rates and less crowding at tourist attractions, but expect shopping malls to be busy – they are a go-to place for locals to escape the heat and shop for their outfits for Eid, the celebration at the end of Ramadan.

Successful businesswoman talking on phone in Dubai

How does this affect the job market?

Companies are only allowed to work for six hours a day by law, which means all businesses tend to shut two hours early. However, salaries are not amended during this time. Understandably, productivity can be negatively impacted, as workers cope with not eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset. As the month is a time to catch up with family, it’s also a popular time to take annual leave.

These patterns are reflected in general hiring activity, with companies holding off any recruitment until Eid celebrations have passed. While this is a trend across most industries, it can have the greatest effect on fresh graduates who are looking for their first or second job in their chosen career.

That said, those looking to change roles tend to start their job-seeking preparations over this period. A survey by found that 79.1% of MENA professionals said they plan to spend more time looking for a new job during Ramadan.This is in part due to the nature of the month itself – it allows jobseekers to slow down, disregard their distractions and focus on their career goals.

What can I do as a jobseeker?

If you are looking for a new role during the Ramadan period, don’t despair. There’s plenty you can do to ensure that you’re ready for the job hunt:

• Make sure your CV is up to date, with your latest responsibilities and achievements
• Clean up your social media, deleting anything you wouldn’t want your boss to see. Make sure your LinkedIn is also up to date and reflects your CV.
• Practice interview questions to make sure you’re confident and prepared for anything a hiring manager may ask. Consider asking a friend to participate in interview role play so you can rehearse your responses.
• Identify a list of companies that you’d like to work with and keep an eye on the careers section of their website for any vacancies – they may be bucking the trend!
• Take some time to establish and narrow down your career goals – where do you want to be in 12 months? Are the roles you’re applying for going to get you there?

It’s also worth touching base with your recruiters and keeping an eye on any job boards, just in case any opportunities come through. When hiring activity increases once more, you’ll be ready to jump at the roles available.

Tiger’s Dubai office can help you find a new role. Get in touch today to see how we can help.

Author Tiger Contributor Tiger Recruitment Team

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