How will Expo2020 affect Dubai’s recruitment sector?

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October 20th 2020 marks the launch of Expo2020, the largest event to ever take place in the UAE. Over the course of six months, the city will play host to an exposition of hundreds of pavilions – all themed to 190 different countries. Showcasing the best of each country through exhibitions, events, live entertainment, food and culture, the Expo will be held in District 2020, a 200,000 m² area situated in the south of the city. It’s the first world Expo to be held in the region, following on from Milan’s Expo in 2015.

As 25 million visitors are expected to visit over the course of the event, the Expo is bound to have an impact of all facets of life, including recruitment. The projected increase of GDP during the time of the Expo is AED112.6 billion – which will undoubtedly impact hiring and salaries. With just 12 months to go till the event, here’s what to look out for.

Candidate retention continues to be important  

In the past few years, we’ve seen a change in the type of salary and benefit packages offered by employers. A few years ago, it was common practice to provide a house, car, kids’ school fees and a free return flight home for expats. Nowadays, these benefits aren’t given out as freely, so we’re seeing some families move away from Dubai. This exodus, combined with the 275,000 jobs its hoped the Expo will create, will undoubtedly trigger increased turnover. Can you hold on to your staff through tailored benefits packages? Depending on the workers, offering school fees, training and development opportunities or private health insurance could be attractive benefits.

Economic change

According to Capital Economics[1], economic growth in the city is projected to rise to between 3.8% and 4.5% throughout the Expo and the following ten years. Hosting the Expo will increase Dubai’s GDP by 1.5%. While many businesses are growing (luxury five-star hotel The Dorchester is currently under construction), some corporations are choosing to move away from Dubai as there is uncertainty around how things will change in the area. Dubai went through an economic boom between the years 1995-2004, with a 17% GDP increase in the final year alone[2]. However, an oversupply of property was the primary cause for the crash in 2009[3]. In the 10 years following the crash, there has been slow but steady growth, but it is hoped that the Expo will speed up production and bring further prosperity to the city.


Dubai continues to be desirable in the region

Dubai is part of the UAE, the 2nd most populous of the Gulf States. Within the region, there are business centres in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia that also offer tax-free income. But it’s not just expats who choose to live and work here – according to the MENA Job Index[4], six out of 10 Dubai residents surveyed have said that they would choose Dubai above all other cities in the region to work. The consensus among workers throughout MENA is that Dubai has a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture, especially when compared to Abu Dhabi, which is seen by many to be a more laid-back city. We’re seeing stability in job numbers and salaries in the lead up to Expo2020, which is hoped to further attract those from both inside and outside the UAE.

The effects of the Expo will be felt long after 2020

Gulf News[5] reports that there will be a further AED62.2 billion injected into the economy from 2020 to 2030. Tourism is expected to contribute to this, as are new commercial opportunities. Following the Expo, 80% of the infrastructure in District2020 will be reincorporated into residential units, commercial buildings, a community centre, restaurants, green spaces and transport links to the airport. The area is expected to be home to a community of 90,000 people, with over two million m² of area available for third parties to develop. This will undoubtedly create opportunities for businesses, from start-ups to multi-national corporations, to expand into this new area. In turn, this development is hoped to attract new job openings and highly skilled candidates into the area.

Please get in touch with our expert consultants for further recruitment insights.

Author Tiger Contributor Tiger Recruitment Team

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