How has Covid-19 impacted Dubai?

Posting date: 01 July 2020

Around the world, countries have been impacted by and responded to Covid-19 in different ways. While Switzerland chose to rely heavily on testing and offered support to businesses, the United Arab Emirates implemented a travel ban, cut interest rates and rolled out a stimulus package.


As a travel hub with many expat and temporary workers, Dubai has been presented with unique challenges during the pandemic. Now as individuals and businesses start to recover and now look to the future, what can we expect for the city, and how might the economy recover?


Travel plans have changed

Dubai came to a standstill in April as the UAE government imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world. Now, the emirate is opening the economy back up, and a significant part of this is travel.


As one of the world’s most significant travel hubs, Dubai was heavily impacted by lockdown measures. It's a city reliant on tourism, hospitality and aviation, so the grounding of planes and imposition of strict travel restrictions have had a major effect on the economy. March’s complete halt of passenger flights has contributed to passenger travel through Dubai dropping by a fifth in the first quarter of 2020, though special repatriation flights still operated to ensure travellers and contract workers could return home. The transport and storage sector, which includes aviation, land, air and water transport, made up 18.5% of Dubai’s GDP in 2017 and was its most active economic driver in the first half of 2019, so such a significant halt could be detrimental to the wider economy.


However, there is now good news for the aviation and hospitality sectors with the resumption of travel from to and from Dubai by July 7. Airports and national carriers are resuming large-scale operations whilst maintaining strict health and safety measures, which may help to accelerate the predicted economic recovery. We can therefore expect to see more opportunity for investment in the travel and tourism sector over the coming months.


Staff consider their options

While the UAE did roll out a stimulus package to help its economy in the midst of the pandemic, Dubai hasn’t seen the same level of support that other parts of the world has when it’s come to securing businesses. With no furlough scheme, some employers have been forced to reduce headcount and salaries to ensure survival during and after Covid-19. As the nation is made up largely of expats, many residents are making the decision to return home, and Oxford Economics estimates that the UAE could see 10% of residents leave its shores. However, with job losses and tanking economies an issue worldwide, those in stable industries may choose to stay on in Dubai rather than facing an uncertain future back home.


Some nations in the GCC are actively looking to reduce expatriate worker numbers, with Kuwait and Oman looking to fill a higher percentage of key positions with national candidates. As international flights resume and restrictions ease, we anticipate there will be more employment opportunities within the UAE, particularly within the healthcare, distribution and logistics and technology industries. E-commerce is thriving throughout the pandemic, so specialist skillsets in this area will be highly sought after.


 Oil and gas take a hit

We know that the commodities market has taken a considerable hit in 2020, not just with Covid-19 but with the oil price wars as well. Supply has outweighed demand and we saw storage facilities reach maximum capacity, resulting in a record low oil price that created significant disruption throughout the global industry. However, the past two months have seen the market recover somewhat, and there are predictions that the second half of the year will see oil prices rise back to $50. As lockdowns continue to be lifted around the world and the mobilisation of people and supplies resumes, we hope this sector continues to strengthen and more job opportunities will emerge.


Investment shows confidence

There are clear signs of opportunity and optimism in the UAE already. One such sign of confidence is the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company announcing a $20.7 billion energy infrastructure deal with global investors, operators and sovereign wealth and investment funds. It’s one of the largest global energy infrastructure transactions and is positive news for the UAE’s gas market – and indeed, clients and jobseekers. Emiratis are optimistic about an economic recovery, according to Mckinsey, and the relaxation of lockdown rules should speed this up. Dubai has maintained its position as among the top three destinations globally for greenfield foreign direct investment, thanks to its ease of doing business, location and security. This should help the city to recover economically, perhaps more quickly than other areas.


Flexibility into the future

Through this crisis we’ve seen many clients in Dubai and UAE implement remote working, reducing business travel as much as possible and placing projects on hold. We can expect to see some of this continue long into the future, particularly regarding employer flexibility, potentially creating more opportunities for workers who may not otherwise have been able to work full time in an office location.


As 22% of UAE employers say working from home has increased their business’ productivity, many organisations may introduce new remote and flexible working policies to allow employees to work from home on a permanent or part time basis. Unnecessary business travel will likely be reduced or eliminated entirely, with a focus on working – and hiring – locally. That’s not to say there won’t be opportunities for global workers to take up lucrative contracts in the UAE, however. For the right candidate, opportunities will remain.


Established in 2007, Swisslinx’s Dubai office is focused on banking and finance, oil and gas, and technology. We have a multilingual team of sector experts who are committed to matching the right candidates with the right roles, providing ongoing support before, during and after the recruitment process. View our latest UAE jobs or contact us to talk about how we can help you.

An Overview of Switzerland’s thriving technology market

Switzerland has long been a world leader in innovation and technology. Ranked as the most innovative country in the world by the Global Innovation Index, the country remains at the forefront of science and technological research. Switzerland has always been quick to utilize new technologies to create robust innovation across a range of industries, from the financial services to healthcare and life sciences.   Over the years, Switzerland has gained a reputation for being the centre for research around artificial intelligence. Indeed, the country currently holds the most AI patents in the European health care industry. And as Switzerland continue to invest in new technologies, we can expect smarter applications to appear across all industries. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at Switzerland’s thriving technology market in more detail.   Switzerland’s tech hubs In Switzerland, fintech is a key driver of innovation throughout the country, paving the way for several tech hubs. For example, the Swiss city of Zug, not too far from Zurich, is home to bitcoin and blockchain start-ups. Blockchain technology is used in a wide range of industries, including insurance and logistics. The city has become so synonymous with the tech movement that it earned the nickname “Crypto Valley” – and it’s the fastest growing technology hub in Europe. In a 2018 report, it was shown that the city grew by 177% in the number of tech-related events. Since then, Crypto Valley has continued to thrive, even in the face of uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic. With its ever-expanding pool of developers and software companies, Switzerland has become a tech hub paradise. Other cities like Lausanne have very successful technology companies, with a focus on AI, health tech and energy.   Tech start-ups Since 1996, the number of start-ups in Switzerland has increased by 700%, with Zurich taking up most of the share. It’s important to know that Switzerland is one of the most expensive places to start a business, due to high living costs. Despite this, Switzerland has still managed to become one of the go-to countries for starting a technology company. Some of the most notable tech start-ups in recent years include Bestmile, a software company that provides autonomous vehicles, and they have offices in San Francisco and London. In 2019, it was named one of the top five best Swiss start-ups in an annual competition. Further afield in the Swiss start-up world is Flyability. Founded in 2014, the company build drones that can be used indoors to check for security and safety and dangerous spaces. The company raised 16m in total to build the drones, which promise to provide fully autonomous inspection. Flyability is focused on reducing risk for workers in confined spaces, and for the environment itself.   Key trends Several key technology trends are making waves in Switzerland. Wearable technology, for example, is having a huge impact on the Swiss insurance industry. It has the potential to help companies better understand their customers with the use of data, and as a result, manage risk and improve processes. Other trends like big data and robotics are big players and have been gaining momentum in recent years, especially in the Swiss healthcare sector. These technologies have the potential to tackle a variety of challenges in healthcare, as outlined in the digital opportunity report by the University of St. Gellen. More data and optimisation can lead to better decision-making in healthcare and create more trust for patients. There’s no doubt Switzerland has developed into an innovative hub for all kinds of technology, all of which continue to fuel the economy at a rapid rate.   Are you looking for your next opportunity in technology? At Swisslinx, we have a deep understanding of the digital and technology industry. It’s a sector that continues to evolve, with innovations coming out daily. Our team of consultants are always up to date with the latest trends in the tech market, and they use their knowledge to support candidates. If you’re looking to land your next role in technology, take a look at our job page for more information.

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What you need to know about starting a job during a pandemic

Even in normal circumstances, starting a new job can be a daunting experience. It’s a learning curve that requires patience, adaptability, and social awareness. However, beginning a new role during a pandemic is even more challenging, as you’ll be navigating a huge change while working remotely. Professionals across all industries need to be prepared for the unexpected, as well as the onboarding process and meeting colleagues virtually.   The pandemic has proven to be a stressful time for many businesses, so it’s important anyone starting a new role can manage their own time and work efficiently. Despite the pandemic, many companies across Switzerland and further afield are still hiring. Looking ahead, the Swiss labour market is on the road to recovery after a sharp decline when COVID-19 initially broke out – which is good news if you’re looking to progress your career and land your next role. Here’s how to ensure you make an excellent start to your new role during a difficult time.   Communication is key Communication is the backbone of any business. It’s essential for achieving productivity and maintaining good relationships. However, starting a job in a pandemic means that consistent and quality communication is all the more important. Since you’ll most likely be learning your new role virtually, you must understand the preferred method of communication. Whether your company uses Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Zoom, you’ll need to ensure open lines of communication at all times while you learn the basics of your new role. COVID-19 has forced many businesses to change the way they work, with employees now expected to be more autonomous and flexible. When you’re virtual, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to connect with your co-workers and build relationships across the business. The pandemic has pushed us to embrace remote work and communication is fundamental for success.   Embrace the culture Businesses of all sizes have been forced to adapt their operations during the pandemic, and this includes workplace culture. Now more than ever, employers will want new hires to quickly learn the culture and align themselves with the company’s mission. In the COVID era of remote working, navigating company culture can be difficult due to the lack of in-person conversations. However, it’s important to recognise that culture isn’t bound to a location. Culture is all about how you connect with your co-workers. That’s why during the onboarding process, you will need to listen actively and engage thoroughly during remote calls. Since you likely won’t be in the office often, it can be harder to present yourself as a team player. But with the right transferrable skills and emotional intelligence, you’ll be able to enter a new role and build great relationships from day one.   Organisation must be a priority  Even in regular circumstances, time management is critical for productivity. But with the pandemic disrupting schedules, the ability to keep organised and track your progress couldn’t be more important. This means that when starting a new role you need to first understand what’s expected of you and make a plan that includes key dates and deadlines, with digital tools to help you stay on task. Because everything has changed so much in the COVID world, you will have to be more proactive and willing to share ideas with more experienced members of your team. As the situation evolves, you’ll need to organise your time accordingly and work in a way that gives you the flexibility to prepare for challenging situations. Starting a new job is never easy – but staying organised can make the transition that much easier.   Get in touch with our team of recruitment specialists There’s no question that starting a job in a pandemic is a real challenge for anyone. With the right leadership, co-workers, and tools at your disposal, you can thrive in an unprecedented time. The team here at Swisslinx is dedicated to providing quality career advice to help with your job search. We keep up with the latest trends in recruitment markets, from financial to digital and technology. Contact us to speak with a team member or start your job search now.

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