Doing business in Dubai: Trends and developments to keep an eye on

Posting date: 09 May 2019

Doing business in Dubai: Trends and developments to keep an eye on

Dubai has become an increasingly desirable location in which to live and work, with a competitive and diverse business landscape. New developments announced by the government look set to continue the emirate’s upward trajectory as a fully-fledged global business capital, and at Swisslinx we’re excited to continue expanding in this part of the world. With exciting developments in tech entrepreneurship, oil and gas movements and a booming finance sector, there’s plenty to keep an eye on. Here are some of our highlights:


A growing market

As the biggest re-exporting centre in the Middle East, Dubai’s economy has become more dynamic and diversified in recent years, with international trade growing at an average of more than 11% each year since 1998. The emirate also recorded 41% year-on-year growth in foreign direct investment in 2018, creating around 25,000 new jobs and reflecting investors’ optimism in the future of the local economy. As the leading hub for finance and transportation in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Dubai is also ranked in the first quartile for business activity, human capital, information exchange and cultural exchange. It hosts the headquarters for most major international corporations based in the GCC and is an international tourism destination, with entrepreneurship and private investments beginning to emerge to shape a culture of innovation. Alongside that, the UAE has reached the 11th rank in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business list for 2019 thanks to its modern infrastructure, supportive legislature and access to networking opportunities.

Put simply, the Dubai business market is expanding in many different directions, making it an exciting time to be doing business in this part of the world.


The emergence of tech entrepreneurship

Early-stage start-ups make up nearly half of all companies registered in Dubai, according to Dubai Statistics Sector, with accelerators and incubators emerging at pace. The UAE sees high levels of commitment from the government and independent programmes to support the tech ecosystem, with Dubai Future Foundation and Dubai Future Accelerators supporting growth in innovation. Alongside incubators are initiatives such as the STEP Conference and GITEX Technology week, providing entrepreneurs and start-ups with the ability to showcase their work and engage with investors.


Banking and finance gain steam

The financial services market has long been a key pillar of Dubai’s economy, and this shows no sign of abating. So far this year we’ve seen the launch of a project aimed at providing 1,500 banking and finance jobs to Emirati citizens within 100 days and plans to triple the size of Dubai’s financial district (DIFC). This expansion is part of a move to cement Dubai’s position as an economic and commercial hub for the region, adding 13 million square feet to the existing Dubai International Financial Center. The DIFC investment hub is already high-performing, reporting its best-ever year for new company registrations in 2018 with a total of 437 new registrations. This saw an 11% rise in net profits for the year, taking the number of registered financial companies to 625.

Transformation is ongoing within the UAE banking sector, with banks operating with high capital and a positive outlook for the sector both now and into the future.


Oil and gas continues to recover

As a major oil and gas hub globally, it’s no surprise that the UAE’s presence in this sector remains strong. After a well-documented price slump in late 2014 the market has recently shown continued stability with the current brent crude price averaging USD $67 - $71. The sector has seen a recent increase in exploration investment, demonstrating a renewed confidence in the market. The GCC has USD $835bn worth of active oil and gas construction projects underway currently.

Development of the region’s major players is ongoing. Aramco has announced an expansion into international oil and gas exploration, likely putting them in direct competition with Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, while ADNOC is actively seeking venture partners for its 2030 growth strategy. Such large-scale projects and ongoing investment in oil and gas suggests a burgeoning employment space for both local and international candidates.


How Swisslinx can help you

Established in 2007, our Dubai office has a focus on the Banking & Finance, Technology and Oil & Gas sectors in the Middle East and North Africa. Based in the DIFC, we have access to the huge number of opportunities available to clients and candidates here, keeping ahead of updated and trends within this part of the market.

Our multilingual team of specialists are considered experts in their respective markets and have experience in recruiting for all levels of seniority up to and including C-Suite and Board Level.

Our consultants have access to the most up-to-date information regarding the market and offer the best local advice possible to our candidates and clients. Get in touch with our Dubai office or view our latest jobs in Dubai and the UAE.

How is Switzerland's life sciences market responding to COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 is an opportunity for Switzerland's life sciences market to deliver the world the one thing that it’s crying out for right now – a vaccine. Researchers at the University of Bern are working around the clock to become the first to produce a vaccine and have delivered the ambitious goal of immunising 100% of the Swiss population against the virus by October.   Other large biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland are proving determined to find a vaccine, as smaller enterprises rely on the nation to provide economic relief packages which will help them survive the virus. While it’s uncertain what the long-term impacts of COVID-19 will be, there are two outcomes of the pandemic that are hard to ignore – innovation and collaboration. Read on to find out how Switzerland’s life sciences market is responding to Covid-19.   Where the action is happening Switzerland has long been known as an innovative nation and the dynamic life sciences sector is what attracts so many key players in the global market to establish headquarters or run operations on its soil. In Basel alone, there are 700 life sciences companies, employing 33,900 employees who produce goods and services valued at a staggering $405 million each hour. Despite Basel being known as Switzerland’s hub of life sciences, it’s companies in the capital city, Zurich, and nearby town, Bern, who are showcasing the most promising developments towards a Covid-19 vaccine.   Swapping Swiss chocolate for antibodies The Swiss biotechnology sector has seen continued growth over the past several decades and just last year 19 biotech companies were established in the country. Though the pandemic may have stopped most of the world in its tracks – causing many people to learn how to be productive when working from home - that’s not the case for biotechnology companies who have instead reallocated their resources in the race to create a vaccination. One Swiss biotech in particular – Memo Therapeutics – are screening healthy participants who have recovered from a strong bout of COVID-10 and repaying them in Swiss chocolate. MEMO is a recognised leader in antibody discovery and is using these proteins which are extracted from recovered patients to develop a vaccine as well as to help create therapies.   A global collaboration The Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator was initiated by the Gates Foundation in an effort to combine the expertise and facilities of life sciences companies around the globe. The CEO of Novartis – a Swiss pharmaceutical giant – has stepped up to co-chair this group of 15 companies to ensure seamless collaboration. The newly-established group recognise that sharing their ‘proprietary libraries of molecular compounds’ will accelerate the progress in identifying a suitable compound meaning that the in vivo trials could be running within two months. This global alliance between life sciences companies may see a vaccination reach the population sooner than imagined and could be the future of faster drug discovery.   Novartis is also dedicating time to understanding the severe life-threatening complications that Covid-19 can present. Their ongoing trial, CAN-COVID, has progressed to Phase III clinical trials and is enrolling participants across Europe with the hopes to develop a therapy which increases the survival rate for those who contract the virus.   A forward-thinking approach According to Swiss Life Sciences' 2020 Trend Analysis, the nation is home to 1,885 life sciences companies, one of them being Neurimmune. This biopharmaceutical company is also working on a Covid-19 therapy and is at the development stage for an antibody-based treatment that will be administered directly to the lungs. This forward-thinking approach to therapeutics could dramatically reduce the damage that coronavirus has on the lungs, therefore improving patient recovery and lowering the mortality rate.   An alternative to a vaccination Global health experts predict that a vaccination won’t be delivered until early 2021 but that has not stopped Swiss biopharmaceutical company Molecular Partners from developing an innovative response to the virus. Rather than formulating a medicine that provides the body with immunisation to Covid-19, they’re working towards creating a class of protein therapeutics known as DARPin which will act as inhibitors that prevent the virus from entering the human cell. This approach would limit the potential of the human population developing resistance to a vaccination and could be an essential treatment to eradicate coronavirus.   A steady recovery In 2019, the combined biotech, pharmaceuticals and chemical industries in Switzerland employed over 50,000 people and contributed to 40% of the nation’s exports. Though the global health emergency initiated an economic downturn in sectors across the world, the displays of innovation and collaboration in recent months ensure that Switzerland’s life sciences market will remain competitive into the future.   Swisslinx is here to help Our team of consultants at Swisslinx are keeping abreast of new developments in the life sciences market meaning that we’re best placed to provide industry advice. Read how Switzerland is responding to Covid-19 and find out what we’re doing to support our clients and candidates. If you’re looking for fresh life sciences talent, Contact us and a member of the Swisslinx team will be in touch to discuss your recruitment needs.

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Using lockdown to your advantage

Home working was already popular in Switzerland in 2019, with 33.7% working from home at least occasionally. This number has of course dramatically increase in 2020, thanks largely to Covid-19. The black swan event was neither expected nor planned for by these employees and their businesses. Thankfully, there’s an abundance of resources which will help you make your lockdown space a productive one. More than two-thirds of office workers say they are more productive when they’re working from home. This ‘new normal’ is the perfect time to focus on where your career is heading, upskilling and even prepare yourself for the next career move. Using this advice, you can be sure that you’re using lockdown to your advantage: Project your career path It’s important to always have sight of which direction you want to steer your career in, yet studies show that people spend more time planning their holidays than they do their career. As our global workforce experiences a sizeable shake-up this is the perfect time to assess where your career is heading. In light of recent changes, new opportunities may have presented themselves or you might have reached a fork in your career path. To make a well-informed decision you must begin by writing down specific goals. For example, becoming the Chief Finance Officer of a multinational company with a gross revenue of £150 million is an extremely clear goal. The more precise that your target is the better it serves you when trying to make career decisions. To improve the effectiveness of your goals write them down - psychology professor, Dr Gail Matthew, shares that we are 42% more likely to achieve them when we do so. Learn a new language There’s no better time to pick up a new skill or hone an existing one and learning a new language could have more career benefits than you’d think. This is particularly true in multilingual Switzerland, where there are four official languages and regional dialects that can make business communication challenging at times. Take the opportunity to brush up on your German, French or Italian and you may see yourself with improved career prospects at the end of lockdown. An American study found that in just five years the number of job advertisements aimed at attracting bilinguists has more than doubled. Commit just 30 minutes each day and use free apps like DuoLingo to expand your vocabulary or enrol in virtual language courses from the Open University if you’re focused on becoming fluent. This free learning platform also offers courses in business, politics, health and more. Pick up the basics of coding If you’re not a natural linguist but want to learn a language there are several computer programming languages that you can choose from. Many websites, like CodeCademy, provide free tutorials for whichever language of code you want to learn and they help you do more than just add a skill to your CV. These resources strengthen your problem-solving abilities as you begin learning the basics of HTML and CSS, laying a solid foundation for programmes such as Python – which is great for beginners – and JavaScript. Get to grips with technology Understandably, the global recruitment landscape has been largely impacted by the imposed lockdown. Hiring managers can no longer meet candidates in person but must rely on technology to match the right candidate with the right job. Already, 53% of HR professionals reveal that they routinely use video interview and we expect this figure to soar throughout and beyond the lockdown as the recruitment industry notes the benefits of a virtual interview over a traditional interview. Get prepared and ahead of other job seekers by learning how you can make an impression on a video interview. It all starts with having the right technology set up so there any no glitches on the day. Alternatively, now could be the perfect time to refresh your knowledge of Microsoft Excel and pick up some new functionalities. AMT Training are offering a free Excel fundamentals course which will teach you Excel best practice and share top shortcuts to help you maximise your productivity. Alternatively, take a look at online training courses on LinkedIn, Udemy and Coursera, where you can do everything from learning business analytics skills to gaining a master’s degree in computer science. Digital networking We’re amidst the largest disruption to the global workforce but that doesn’t mean to say new job opportunities aren’t on the horizon. Many industries have adopted a business-as-usual stance – particularly Switzerland's pharmaceuticals industry - and others are concentrating on bouncing back from the impact that the outbreak has had on hiring efforts. Now is the time to brush up on your digital networking knowledge. With in-person interviews and large networking events off the cards for some time you need to focus your efforts on your digital presence. Begin by optimising your LinkedIn profile so that you’re visible to recruiters and hiring managers. Remember that networking is not always about gaining connections - use this time to reach out to old contacts. Start the job hunt with Swisslinx The lockdown is no reason to put your personal and career development on hold. You now have the resources and advice to help use this time to your advantage and even ready yourself for the next career move. Begin the search now – browse our latest opportunities in life sciences and financial services.

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