One in 10 UAE workers have lost their jobs in the past six months while close to two thirds polled have close friends and family members who lost their jobs.
According to a July survey by YouGov, an international internet-based market research firm, half of the 821 UAE respondents said their companies have cut jobs while 25% have colleagues who were asked to take unpaid leave. Two hardest-hit sectors were construction and property where 44% and 41% polled respectively knew someone who had lost their jobs. For those who are still working, 60% said they were considering relocation to another country, reported UAE media The National.
The recession has also caused severe job anxiety in 68% of respondents while less than a third are accelerating their plans to leave the UAE. The survey also showed that respondents were realistic about their pay increments this year with 88% expecting only a slight increase from last year. In fact, 59% said there has been a pay freeze. The worse hit are Westerners (68%), Arab expatriates (62%), Asians (59%) and 42% for Emiratis.
Out of the unemployed, 58% planned to stay on and look for another job while 8% planned to set up their own company in the UAE. Another 6% wants to look for work in another Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country and 7% hopes to relocate outside the GCC altogether. A fifth however said they were heading back to their home country.
The UAE unemployment rate is expected to increase slightly in 2009 from 4% in 2008 because of the economy slowdown and rapid population growth, reported UAE daily Emirates Business 24|7. An Abu Dhabi-based economist said, “However, this is not for economic reasons but due to the reluctance of UAE nationals to join the private sector and their preference for the public sector.”
Figures by the Ministry of Economy showed the country’s population is projected to maintain its high growth in 2009, rising to around five million from 4.7 million in 2008. The unemployment rate among UAE citizens was as high as 12.7% while the figures among expatriates were only about 2.6%