The Dubai real estate market continues to be the jewel in the crown within a somewhat uncertain regional climate. With a number of contracts awarded early in 2017 from major real estate developers and with EXPO 2020 starting to really kick on with infrastructure and major build contracts, this should hopefully be the boost that a strained contracting market has so desperately needed. My opinion is that whilst the UAE has successfully diversified away from oil and the reliance it once had, we are still beholden as a region to a number of factors around the world which will limit growth and with every day that passes I gain a new found appreciation for how important winning the bid for EXPO 2020 was for the UAE and Dubai specifically.
With an imposing threat of retail asset saturation and the push with e-commerce led by Mohamed Alabbar and Noon.com amongst others, the weakening of the GBP and the strengthening of the USD, there has been a fear of job cuts and a market segment slow down. However, interestingly enough, major real estate developers continue their extensive and aggressive retail plans which in turn has led to a number of retail based asset management vacancies such as General Managers, Leasing Directors, Asset/Property Managers and Retail Design/Delivery Professionals. This tends to be the major focus in terms of roles that I have recruited since 2015. I can only see this continuing with EXPO on the horizon.
The hiring trend continues to vary within real estate and clients continue to remain lean, however the main preference for any client is for the candidate to have local or regional experience. With the unpredictable climate of 2015-2016 which led to redundancies, developers and construction firms are finding a glut of skilled candidates on the ground and therefore hindering the ability of overseas candidates successfully applying for jobs.
Considering market trends, I sense that real estate and construction recruitment will continue to improve for 2017 and that salaries will slightly increase. However, I do not envisage an increase percentage of note and this may be seen as somewhat frustrating for UAE residents with the cost of living and continued year-on-year inflation a sore point. After speaking with a number of senior level, real estate executives I have noticed that with leaner teams the trend is to have talent with wide ranging skill sets as opposed to niche verticals for example “high rise specialist,” stretching employees to the limit. Clients are now looking for someone who can do high-rise, but with the ability to offer advice on shopping malls and hotels for example. Nevertheless, it is important to note that talented professionals, particularly within delivery of major projects will always be in need and retained by their companies. However, make no mistake, we are in a time where the sentiment of Warren Buffet looms large and can be linked, in some instances to the hiring and subsequent laying off of staff. “It’s only when the tide goes out, do you realise who has been swimming with no bathing suit on”.
All In all, I sense a steady progression to be made in 2017 and a certain bottoming out of any long standing redundancy plans.
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This post was written by Tom Loseby