Recruiters in the GCC are forecasting a big hiring year for the banking and financial services sectors, as well as significant recruitment in construction, hospitality and healthcare.

The UAE's Emiratisation programme has also boosted the hiring of nationals. In the past two months, almost 1,000 Emiratis have been recruited into banking and finance roles thanks to the state-managed ‘Government Accelerator’ programme launched last year to help realise the UAE’s Vision 2021.

Additionally, big local employers Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways are looking to fill a number of new roles, including customer service staff analysts, financial managers, and security and quality assurance personnel.

The introduction of VAT across the Middle East is also resulting in a demand for tax professionals – especially those with software skills who can help organisations incorporate taxation into core business processes.

Recruitment specialists Cooper Fitch recently released its Salary Guide for 2017, which provides detailed analysis on where employment opportunities will be in 2017 and what salary expectations will be.

Trefor Murphy, CEO at Cooper Fitch, said: “We have seen an increase in hiring across all areas in the UAE, and we are pleasantly surprised that this includes new hires in the banking and financial services sector – mainly in Dubai, but slowly restarting in Abu Dhabi, too.”

The guide explains that the biggest demand within banking is for experts in compliance and financial crime, as well as those with experience in asset management, private banking and foreign exchanges.

“Cooper Fitch sees an increase in new job activity in the UAE of between five and six per cent on the same period last year,” added Murphy. “Sectors such as fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCG), manufacturing, property and construction are all showing good signs of growth, and we have also seen a significant improvement in the number of jobs in technology, digital, strategy and risk. But the largest increase has been in VAT recruitment.”

Digital professionals are in demand too; 7 out of 10 organisations say they are investing more in digital marketing. Additionally, employers are seeking experts in cloud technology – particularly professionals with technical and commercial skills.

“We are seeing attrition rates staying similar to last year, with salaries increasing around a projected rate of four per cent,” said Murphy.

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