Accounting and finance recruitment in the UAE was steady in year 2018, defined by the number of expats who have either left the UAE or have sent their families home. There was an increased demand for UAE nationals, in particular for niche roles such as internal audit risk.
The oil and gas sector began hiring again after a period of recovery and market slowdown since 2016. there was a notable increase of temporary fixed-term contracts for project finance roles. As with previous years, salaries remained relatively stable in 2018.
Demand was high for candidates who could fill traditional roles, namely finance managers, financial controllers and tax specialists. The 'Big 4' were actively recruiting for audit and tax roles across the GCC. Professionals with a background in tax were also highly sought after for in-house roles.
In 2019, the positive UAE economy will accelerate the jobs market growth, primarily driven by recovering oil prices, the active trade and tourism environments and a pick-up in investment ahead of Expo 2020 in Dubai.
We expect that demand will be high for financial analysts, management accountants, business controllers, finance managers, chief accountants and project accountants in 2019. We will also see a number of roles being created within compliance and risk.
The Saudi government has predicted a 7.4% increase in total spend for 2019, which will likely increase companies’ confidence to hire. This, coupled with stringent Saudization policies, will mean that firms will look to reduce their expatriate headcount in favour of locals who have international experience. Saudi national hiring has doubled in 2018 and we expect this trend will continue into 2019.
The implementation of VAT in Bahrain in the beginning of 2019 will undoubtedly increase the number of tax manager roles, with large companies and the 'Big 4' all competing for similar types of candidates.