Venari Partners attended the 2019 Arabian Travel market (ATM) in Dubai last week. Through the candidates and clients that we interacted with, we wanted to note down our current insights into the Middle East job market.
It’s a bit quiet in Dubai right now…
With all the new hotels that are popping up, you would think that there would be an abundance of roles in the offering and a real fight to secure top talent. Whilst I believe this to be the case for on-property level positions, it seems to be a much different story at the corporate level. The increase in hotel supply has meant that the average daily rates (ADR) have been significantly dropping over the last few years, with one contact noting some rates are lower than back in the early 90s! This has meant that owners are not seeing the returns on investment they once were and are starting to make sure the organisations they own are running a leaner org structure at the top. It’s still important to note that, although ADR is down, hotels are still making good returns - they are just not as spoiled as they have been over the last decade.
With the aforementioned in mind, there is a real need now to stand out as a candidate within the Middle Eastern market. Just as hotels are innovating with new designs and concepts to attract new guests, it’s important for corporate level candidates to do the same as they can no longer just rely on their CV. Personal network and contacts are becoming a lot more important as hotel groups are continually looking at strategic partnerships, tech & innovation, and ultimately relying on mutual connections for referencing candidates.
There has always been an ex-pat presence within the key cities across the Middle East, with candidates attracted by the opportunity to work in a new and exciting market with some great financial benefits attached. I can’t see the need to bring across ex-pat experience wavering anytime soon; however, I believe the ex-pat community will be challenged greater by local talent pools or retuning natives who have gained experience across other markets. This would be a great thing for the Middle East as the bar for talent will continue to be pushed higher.
With the global presence that the Middle East’s most famous airlines have, traffic will always pool towards the key cities. This is a huge advantage the Middle East has over other cities in the likes of Europe or Asia. It’s just down to the countries to provide the entertainment factor to increase the travellers stay between connecting flights.
If you are looking for innovation and something a bit different to attract tourism you can look at the likes of the Red Sea Development project taking place off the coast of Saudi Arabia, it will combine all of the elements of a luxury holiday with a huge focus on sustainability.
If I were a current candidate looking at options in the Middle East, I would think about which companies are innovating now and how you can utilise your network to break in. I wouldn’t be looking it as an opportunity for a big pay day, instead I would focus on the potential to gain experience in some of the world’s most innovative cities.