UAE business confidence high for 2020, Robert Half research shows

UAE business leaders are confident in their company’s growth prospects for the first half of 2020, with 69% expressing they are ‘very confident’, according to independent research commissioned by leading international recruitment consultancy, Robert Half UAE.

  • 69% of business leaders indicate they are ‘very confident’ in positive growth sentiment for the UAE
  • Business leaders are most optimistic about expansion, attracting suitable talent and taking advantage of accelerating economic growth
  • Technological advancements are the biggest factor contributing to the widening skills gap

Dubai, UAE, 24 February 2020 – UAE business leaders are confident in their company’s growth prospects for the first half of 2020, with 69% expressing they are ‘very confident’, according to independent research commissioned1 by leading international recruitment consultancy, Robert Half UAE.

When questioned on the rationale for optimism, many cited their company’s objective to expand business opportunities (43%), ability to attract suitable talent to drive success (19%), and the improving economic climate as a catalyst for business growth (17%).

Many organisations in the region are struggling to keep up with rapid technological advances, and according to 29% of business leaders, the fast pace of technological change and associated skills is the main cause of a widening skills gap. Organisations should be prepared to compete throughout the year to attract suitable talent, as 76% of business leaders believe that the current skills gap will hinder their company’s growth. 

Business leaders in the UAE revealed that operational expansion is the primary influence for their 2020 hiring strategy. More than 2 in 5 (42%) of business leaders hold this outlook, while 44% stated that maintaining their existing workforce will be critical for sustaining growth throughout the year. Regarding hiring plans for 2020, 29% of business leaders indicated that attracting suitable talent was the primary influence on their plan. Many organisations are also experiencing an increased workload (21%) and employee turnover (17%).

Table: Top 5 factors influencing hiring plans for 2020*

Attracting suitable talent 29%
Increased workload 21%
Employee turnover 17%
Current economic and business climate 17%
Ageing/retiring workforce 7%

*Multiple responses permitted. Source: Robert Half UAE, 2020.

Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director of Robert Half UAE, commented: “It’s great to see that UAE business leaders are starting the year with an optimistic outlook. Many of the businesses we are working with are exploring opportunities to expand their competitive advantage by implementing digitalisation to meet rising customer expectations.

“To effectively achieve this, many acknowledge that they need to bolster their ability to attract and retain the best available talent in the region – or in cases needing to compete on an international level. To do this effectively requires being clear on the skillsets required, relaxing job descriptions, and offering greater training and mentoring opportunities. That is why we believe it’s vital that we continuously seek to understand current-, medium- and long-term business and labour market trends, to provide both our clients and candidates with the support they need to ‘future-proof’ their careers and businesses.”


Notes to editors

About the Research
1The research was developed by Robert Half UAE and is conducted by an independent research firm. The study is based on 275 interviews with hiring managers from companies across the UAE, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide, including the UAE, providing recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal, human resources and administration professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at