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.

Is Switzerland the smartest country in the world?

The digital age has transformed the meaning of ‘smart’. What was once a nod towards human intelligence is now a reference to a product, service – even a city - that is connected via the Internet of Things (IoT). Data and information are the building blocks of a smart city, where they are captured and transmitted using electrical signals to improve the functioning of the city. The only country to steal two spots in the 2020 Smart City Index is the home of luxury chocolates and high-precision watchmaking – Switzerland. Could this be a signal that Switzerland is the smartest country in the world?   Smart cities ‘Smart’ conjures up the image of multiple wireless connections beaming to form a complex network of signals. These signals are what make a city interconnected but what makes the city smart is when the data is used to make more informed decisions and improve the lives of the residents. In the Smart City Index, Zurich was awarded the bronze medal - only beaten by Singapore and Helsinki – and was recognised for its health facilities, governance and education. However, the citizens of Zurich addressed the need for e-voting and greater investment in mobile apps for car sharing. Meanwhile, Geneva took seventh place for their basic amenities, health, education and social mobility. Air pollution was identified as a problem in this Swiss city and this could be a call for increased investment in smart devices that conserve natural resources.   This continuous investment in new technologies is one of the reasons why Switzerland took first place in the 2020 Global Innovation Index once again, but how has the push towards developing smart applications and devices impacted the healthcare system?   Smart healthcare Despite there being no universal coverage in Switzerland, the nation is renowned for having a high-quality healthcare system. And as the digital revolution sweeps over the country, technologies such as wearables, implanted sensors and smart textiles are beginning to push the boundaries and alter the skillset required for healthcare jobs. In PwC’s Digital opportunity in the Swiss healthcare system report, smart devices are identified as an emerging technology, suggesting that the true potential of Switzerland’s smart healthcare is yet to be seen. These devices are being used to collect patient data and report it in real-time, resulting in both reduced costs and improved operational efficiency.   One of the first uses of smart technology within Switzerland’s healthcare system was Google Glass. Swiss developers created an app to allow paramedics and doctors to use the augmented reality (AR) glasses to improve the quality of treatment, particularly in time-sensitive cases. Several years on,  more applications of AR and VR tools within life sciences are beginning to emerge. The smart devices are now being used to help surgeons to prepare for surgery and assisting patients to perform their therapy exercises at home.   How can Switzerland get smarter? In 2009, the chief technology officer for the District of Columbia (D.C) – Vivek Kundra – announced a competition for software developers to create a mobile app that used the open data made public by the municipality. The purpose of the competition was to take the stores of data that the local government collects and put it to use in a way that benefitted the public. The resulting 47 applications – including a real-time parking app and an app to track a safe route home from any bar in the city – achieving in one month what would have taken years had the government chosen to outsource the work.   Despite the number of software developers living in Switzerland being yet to reach the numbers in the US, and estimates that the shortfall of ICT specialists will reach 40,000 by 2026, the job market is growing. The combination of Covid-19, increased government investment in technology and a booming fintech market have led to a heightened demand for tech and digital skills, with no signs of the trend slowing down. Now, many software developers are trading in their coveted roles in Silicon Valley to relocate to the culturally vibrant Zurich. And with the rise of disruptive technology in Switzerland, more smart apps like those developed in D.C. look to be on the horizon. Perhaps all it will take is a competition to draw out these innovative ideas.   Access our team of market specialists Whether Switzerland is the smartest country in the world remains up for debate, but one thing for sure is that the nation is making a name for itself in the smart technology market. It is trends and technology drivers like these that the team at Swisslinx are committed to keeping pace with, so we can provide you with timely career advice. Contact us to speak to a member of the team or begin the search for your next digital and technology job.

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What does the post-Covid workplace look like - and how can businesses thrive?

In the US, 41% of the workforce is expected to continue working partly remotely beyond Covid-19, compared to the 30% prior to the outbreak. A similar trend is expected to sweep over the globe, meaning that in the post-Covid landscape companies that are ‘remote-friendly’ may gain a competitive edge. Though the damaging effects of coronavirus will be felt for some time, for some industries the pandemic is likened to a double-edged sword. So, can the post-Covid workplace be more productive and enable businesses to thrive?   When, where and how?  The 9-5 working model was one greatly favoured by businesses around the globe, but with commuting times creeping up and taking precious time away from employees’ personal lives a gradual shift towards flexible working was forming even before the virus outbreak. Now, with 80% of employees stating they’ve enjoyed the transition to home working, it’s hard to imagine the age-old working pattern being put back into play.   In countries like Wales, the government is exploring new options where cities are no longer the hub of the working world. Instead, smaller co-working spaces will be set up in housing districts – thereby cutting pollution and improving the work-life balance while still creating that sense of community on a smaller scale. As companies strive to keep their culture alive and prioritise the employee work-life balance, new flexible working practices will begin to take root.   Similarly, technology has demonstrated its power to create new working practices and has shown business leaders that remote does not equal diminished collaboration. Within days, Zoom confidently replaced client meetings and over weeks conferences moved to the digital space too. This is a cause for celebration for introverted employees but a challenge for companies to understand their teams’ behavioural drives and examine how to make remote-working work for everyone. As the employee tech stack continues to grow to include more collaboration tools such as Asana and Trello, so will the job opportunities for software developers.   The workplace culture Workplace culture is key when securing top talent and promoting employee engagement, but the remote working model appears to pose a threat to carefully nurtured cultures. However, culture is intangible and a physical workspace is not essential to enforce company values and behaviours.   Covid-19 presents the opportunity to fortify culture. To do so leaders need to establish creative solutions that encourage autonomous working and actively engage the workforce, but a one-size-fits-all approach will not suffice. A McKinsey survey found a huge discrepancy amongst remote workers with children or dependents, with 63.2% of males and 38.5% of females revealing they are engaged with their work.   Technology will become cemented at the core of all businesses 2020 marked the fifth decade of the Information Age – a period which has seen technology play an increasingly important role in everyday life and business. No period has witnessed such rapid development, with technology transforming the way humans communicate, creating jobs that were unheard of a few years ago and improving the overall quality of life. While coronavirus was a threat to all this and more, it gave technology the platform to prove its value and has propelled the adoption of technology forward two years, paving the way for a more automated working world.   How businesses can thrive post-Covid The ability to thrive hinges on adaptability. Businesses that hire individuals with this transferrable skill and back projects that are centred around this idea will likely survive the pandemic and flourish in the post-Covid world. Where Covid-19 initially forced industries into reactive decisions, now the stance will change to a proactive one. This has drawn out operational inefficiencies and demonstrated how the new world of working can be more productive than before.   One example of this is the life sciences industry. Globally, 826 companies have noted a disruption to clinical trials, of which over 50% are US-based and 3.7% located in Switzerland. The banning of nonessential appointments was a challenge for life sciences companies but the response was to take a new approach to study, investing more in digital technologies for remote appointments and using smartphone apps to improve patient care management.   Helping you hiring during uncertain times Since 1999, we’ve been providing unmatchable talent acquisition solutions to Swiss companies and the international market. Hiring in these uncertain times calls for recruitment expertise and this is where Swisslinx can help. Learn about our client services, or if you’re looking for a job take a look at our financial services roles.   Get in touch to discuss your needs.

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