It was brought to our attention yesterday that a long awaited event, and a significant date on the calendar for many who were looking for jobs in Dubai, has been shelved because of the changing face of Dubai’s job market.

The Opportunities Gulf States Expo 2009 in London has been cancelled because of, “the global economic climate and the impact that this is having on the job market in Dubai and the Gulf States” – as stated by the event’s organisers.

And so this has led us to produce this guide to how things are changing in Dubai, how expatriate workers are being impacted, and what the real prospects are for finding jobs in Dubai if you still want to work in this luxurious and tax-free environment.

One of the hardest things to deal with that journalists and even economists have to face with Dubai is that there is no consistent, government backed data coming out of the emirate relating to the liquidity and affluence of companies operating out of Dubai.  The state argues that because it is tax-free on many levels, it has to be free from reporting restrictions too…however, Saudi Arabia manages to combine a situation whereby it remains largely tax-free whilst requiring of companies and individuals a certain about of data relating to profitability and earnings.  Because Dubai is lacking this data, speculation can and does run riot about the state the emirate is in.

Dubai is doing itself no favours at this point in time by failing to issue any particularly positive data about the progress the government is making and its plans for the future, about the success (or otherwise) of companies based in Dubai and how overall GDP is being impacted by the global economic crisis.  All commentators on the region can therefore see and go on when reporting on the state of the jobs market in Dubai for example, is the fact that private companies are shedding staff, government backed agencies are consolidating, development projects are being postponed or shelved – and so naturally, with nothing to counteract this negative situation, all commentary on the region is fairly negative too.

However, that’s not necessarily a fair representation of what’s happening in Dubai.  What you’re largely seeing is a consolidation for sustainable development’s sake.  You’re seeing the large constructors advancing with projects already under development, but stopping themselves from being over extended and therefore over committed by placing other projects on hold.  You’re seeing international companies cutting back on staff, but not shutting up shop and leaving, and you’re witnessing a government seemingly carrying on as normal!  All of this should actually give one greater confidence in Dubai than in many, many other nations worldwide!  At worst it’s a location that’s standing up to the challenges facing it, at best you’re seeing an emirate continuing to advance and develop, albeit at a slower, more sustainable rate.

There are still job vacancies for professionals in industries such as medicine, pharmaceuticals, education and the media for example – but if you do want a job in Dubai then be prepared for competition to be stiff, job security to be perhaps less, and for your search for the right job to be harder than it was just one year ago.  But at least it is still a location with the fundamentals and foundations for ongoing growth and development – making it a far surer bet than anywhere in Europe for example.  The only industry in Dubai that has really been hit with massive job losses is the construction industry – and tragically, those affected are those with the least choices.  Indian construction workers have perhaps been hardest hit, with some constructors flying out redundant staff en masse.  These individuals have the least support of all expats in Dubai, they receive the lowest wages, endure the hardest working conditions and are now facing the biggest dilemmas.  They are the breadwinners often for large families, and to return home with no work and no prospect of well-paying employment can push many to extremes.

What we would say to anyone actively contemplating taking a job in Dubai is that, depending on the industry you work in, there are generally vacancies arising.  So, if you want to make your dream of living in Dubai a reality you have to be prepared to work at it, push hard for employment, be proactive in finding a vacancy and then work hard to maintain your position in a changing employment environment.  And ultimately, Dubai will rebound far sooner and far better than many other countries in the world because of the diversity of industries operating from it, and because of the sheer weight of financial backing that the emirate has.