UAE’s top roles and workplace trends for 2020

Robert Half has revealed the UAE’s top 10 in-demand roles for the first half of 2020, and the trends expected to influence the jobs market.

Dubai, UAE, 20 January 2020 – Robert Half has revealed the UAE’s top 10 in-demand roles for the first half of 2020, and the trends expected to influence the jobs market. Management accountants, talent acquisition specialists and HR business partners top the list, as businesses prepare for the impact that a resurgent UAE economy will have on the war for talent. 

To attract new hires and retain top talent, remuneration trends such as flexible working, training and development will be essential for companies looking to build the best workforce and secure the right candidates. The findings are part of Robert Half UAE’s 2020 Salary Guide.1

Top 10 jobs for the year ahead, with salary brackets2:

1.    Management accountants (US$79,300 – US$113,000)
Demand for accounting professionals is growing in the UAE as start-ups seek professionals with accountancy experience to establish and develop their financial processes. Equally, SMEs through to large multinational companies are looking to streamline costs and maximise their bottom line.

2.    CFOs (US$196,100 – US$438,900)
At the head of finance operations, CFOs are regarded as the key to driving global best practice. With a talent deficit threatening hiring strategy across the finance and accounting sector, organisations are looking for CFOs to lead from the top and deliver business targets, with a focus on market regulation and increased return on investment.

3.    Risk managers (US$98,100 – US$156,900)
The financial services sector is seeing a hiring increase due to rapid advancements in technology. One of the most in-demand professions is risk managers, as awareness of the dangers posed by new technologies and processes becomes a priority.

4.    Heads of digital / digital transformation (US$170,800 – US$261,600)
The UAE technology market is one of the most competitive in the region, but technical knowledge is something that won’t be limited to the technology department. Leading from the top, heads of digital, or heads of digital transformation, will be required to oversee the modernisation and vital digitalisation needed for future business success.

5.    Artificial intelligence (AI) developers (US$52,300 – US$125,100)
To remain at the forefront of development expertise, businesses are bringing specialist support in AI within their in-house technology team. Those with medium to senior-level development experience will stand out against the competition as they can bring best-practice insights to the role.

6.    HR business partners (US$65,400 – US$98,000)
Due to new UAE labour laws, HR professionals including HR business partners can expect a surge in demand for their skills, especially those who specialise in the benchmarking of compensation and benefits packages to attract and retain staff.

7.    Talent acquisition specialists (US$39,200 – US$58,900)
Demand for talent acquisition professionals has increased within large multinational organisations, as the need to source top talent becomes increasingly competitive.

8.    Legal counsel (US$89,000 - US$155,500)
With legal practices adapting to a rapidly changing business landscape, corporates are looking for legal counsel professionals with 5-8 years’ local experience, who offer the skills to support with developments in FinTech, financial regulation and dispute resolution. 

9.    Legal assistants (US$46,000 - US$65,000)
Bilingual legal assistants can expect a wider range of job opportunities, as businesses look for support in drafting and reviewing contracts in different languages, to maintain alignment with international best practice.

10.    Security analysts (US$55,600 - US$114,400)
Security analysts will be in high demand, supplying businesses with the know-how on what they should be doing to defend and secure their data.

Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director of Robert Half UAE, commented: 
“With economic growth in the UAE set to accelerate this year, it is unsurprising to see faster evolution of the workplace. As companies adjust to the challenges and opportunities presented to their business, the need not only for top talent, but a meaningful ‘business fit’ for candidates, intensifies. 

Employers are seeking candidates with specialist skills, industry experience, and systems knowledge. The most in-demand of these being mid-level, specialised roles such as security analysts and AI developers. 

Candidates applying for these jobs can expect to enjoy some negotiating room on flexible working and starting salaries within their remuneration packages. The search for bilingual candidates in the legal and finance sectors is also set to increase, as companies look to comply with international best practice standards.”


Notes to editors

1About the Robert Half 2020 Salary Guide
Since 1950, Robert Half has produced Salary Guides to offer business owners, hiring managers and professional’s information on prevailing starting salaries and insight into the latest employment trends. Companies consult the annual Salary Guide to determine appropriate remuneration for accounting and finance, financial services technology, legal, human resources and business support professionals at all levels.

The starting salary figures are national averages represented in US dollars (US$) and are based on a number of sources, most notably thousands of placements and negotiations managed each year by Robert Half's recruitment consultants. 

2Bonuses and other forms of remuneration, such as pension scheme and long-term incentives, are not taken into account. This is because professionals joining a company may enter at a variety of experience levels and we report salaries in ranges. The ranges represent averages and will vary by industry and hard-to-fill skill sets.

Download the Robert Half 2020 Salary Guide

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