What is the current situation of the tech job market in the UAE?

Raphael Santos

By Raphael Santos
August 4, 2023

September 12, 2023

0 min read

Source: Frame Stock Footage/Shutterstock

Software Engineering is the top in-demand job for the future ahead in the UAE

We already saw how the UAE is fast becoming a technology leader in the world. The national industry possesses a multitude of enticing qualities that can attract a large number of workers impacted by significant tech layoffs. These include a free tax environment, a high quality of life, and well-compensated employment opportunities.

It is widely acknowledged by journalists and the media that the UAE's technological growth shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the job market, but the region has shown remarkable resilience in its recovery.

Cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai are already witnessing the hottest jobs market in 2 years.

The recent study, Future of Work in the MENA 2023, conducted by Bayt.com and the market research company YouGov, provides insights into the industry's perspective on its future direction in the region. And with no surprises, software development and data science fields are among the top ones to be right now!

Software Engineering is considered the most sought-after job that will have a significant influence on the industry in the MENA region, particularly the UAE.

Jobs in-demand for the future in the MENA region

Whether you're a hiring decision-maker looking to build a business or division, or an individual seeking a new job opportunity, the UAE offers an ideal business environment with a wealth of top-tier tech talent.

  1. Tech is every market now
    1.1 Group 42: a case for leading the way to AI-centric solutions
  2. The UAE Strategy for Talent Attraction and Retention
  3. Labour policies and work environment
    3.1 The current situation of the UAE tech market
    3.2 Best energy startup to work
    3.3 Women's workforce participation
    3.4 Employee take-home pay
  4. The top professionals to help lead the tech revolution
    4.1 Demand around data and CSE
    4.2 Mean Salaries in the UAE
  5. Skills in demand
    5.1 Top Popular Skills
          5.1.1 Data Skills
          5.1.2 Programming Languages Skills
          5.1.3 Soft Skills
  6. We can help you with the best talent

Tech is every market now

With that said, it's clear that the UAE is on the same road now as all other lead economies: to expand. And to expand, every sector needs tech talent.

Every company aiming to surpass competition will direct a good part of its investments in the acquisition of data scientists, cloud architects, software engineers and many other roles related to digital innovation.

Tech is every market nowSource: Frame Stock Footage/Shutterstock

All government policies show the impressive country's public commitment to develop their domestic economy with a long-range vision.

That is crucial to business stability and, consequently, to the private sector. And, it's interesting that many projects supported by the government has digital innovation as a fundamental step in economic growth. For instance, The UAE's Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Strategy and the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence.

Group 42: a case for leading the way to AI-centric solutions

The United Arab Emirates has already understood how the technology industry is becoming transversal and appearing within all sectors. Nowadays, companies seem to finally accept that technology is better used to collect information and be guided by it.

One good example of a company with a very robust information-driven solution is Group 42. G42 is an Abu Dhabi-based cloud computing (also an A.I. company) and one of the most important data centres worldwide.

The news is that G42 and Etisalat Group are partnering together in a joint venture. The goal is to be the largest data centre provider in the entire UAE. That will certainly motivate new investments in the region, the installation of new companies, and the migration of workers.

Group 42 growth rate

Group 42 is a vital player in the country for emerging technologies to achieve success. The potential is enormous, benefiting from the mobility techs to the healthtechs

Data is the new oil, and information is power for better business management. So that is why your organisation needs to be prepared for hiring the right talent in this tech revolution.

The UAE Strategy for Talent Attraction and Retention

The national programme to attract foreign workers was developed with three goals in mind:

  • Ensure the UAE position among the top 10 countries in the GTCI (Global Talent Competitiveness Index).
  • Ensure among strategic sectors the high availability of talent.
  • Develop the UAE status as the ideal place to work and live.

The COVID-19 crisis caused an economic downturn across the globe. From North America to South Asia; from the MENA region to European Union; From Saudi Arabia to Abu Dhabi. It was very democratic in that sense. But the UAE job market is recovering, and its government policy and foreign investments are the vital reasons for that. 

The UAE Strategy for Talent Attraction and RetentionSource: Frame Stock Footage/Shutterstock 

In effect, we can already see why UAE fits perfectly as one of the perfect destinations for talent worldwide.

Labour policies and work environment

The current situation of the UAE tech market

Working in the UAE is not very different from other places where best job practices are applied. The emerging trends are increasingly in the region with several startups already being global references in quality of life at work.

LinkedIn released a list of the 10 best 2021-term startups in the UAE. The social network considered several factors such as job growth, interest in the work, attraction of the best talent, and engagement.

The first position belongs to CAFU, an organization that innovated in the business, being the first in the region to offer an on-demand fuel-delivery.

In addition, we see Kitopi as a standout that today can be considered a company valued at over 1 billion.

These companies have gained popularity among many workers for practices including:

  • Work from anywhere office policy.
  • Self-care days.
  • Day offs (marriage, maternity, paternity...).
  • Equity Plans.
  • Development Programmes.
  • Flexible hours.

Best energy startup to work

Another firm appearing on the LinkedIn best startups list is Yellow Door Energy. It is interesting to observe the impressive strength of the company versus its competitors.

Yellow Door Energy Competitors

Notice how we can see in the infographic that the company, even with an employee headcount smaller than competitors, can achieve excellent levels of growth in web, social media, employee and mobile.

In a recent interview with The National, Sabrina Gobet, Human Resources VP at Yellow Door Energy, shared the company's work culture. No clock-in, clock-out tradition, flexible hours, hybrid work model and employee awards are some of the environment features highlighted by the executive. 

So, it's no surprise that YDE's growth seems to be positively affected by that work culture. Trust and confidence are vital points to always look for in an organisation's relationship with its employees. 

Women's workforce participation

UAE is established as a leading country in gender equality in the Middle East, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap report.

In addition, the UAE ranks first in women's safety in a survey conducted by Georgetown University. The numbers are very optimistic regarding the advancement of females in the UAE. Women represent 70% of all graduates in the region, 34% of the Emirates Mars Mission and 80% of crew's scientists.

Employee take-home pay

Dubai is the first one in a study conducted by PwC, which ranked the cities worldwide with the high take-home pay (after social security and tax) for high-income residents. Dubai showed an impressive scenario of letting an employee take home his entire salary.

Abu Dhabi is not behind too when we talk about salary and free taxation. The city has a strong policy of non-taxable income. If we look deeper, there's plenty of potential job opportunities for foreign workers: Abu Dhabi has almost 1.5 million citizens (2018), a relatively small population considering the number of projects being developed in the city.

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The top professionals to help lead the tech revolution

Demand around data and CSE

The United Arab Emirates has the best possible free-market practices. The government facilitated the investments, legislation is following the digital transformation, and visa cards expansion is growing soon as was expected.

And when talking about skilled talent, the common-sense between executives is that jobs around data and computational science and engineering (CSE) will continue to be in high demand.

Roles increasing in demand include:

  • Network Architect
  • Cloud Architect
  • Cyber Security Specialist
  • Machine Learning Engineer
  • Data Scientist
  • Software Engineer
  • Business Intelligence
  • Data Engineer
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Project Manager

Mean Salaries in the UAE

We consulted the Economic Research Institute to find out the mean salary for these roles.


We also gathered different ranges of percentiles so you know how much is the difference between junior and senior levels of those jobs opportunities.

As you can see, the competition for the best tech talent is pretty fierce. Professionals who belong to the 90th percentile earn a total income higher than 90% of their peers.

Skills in demand

Data Scientists and Software Engineers are more important now than at any other time in history.

Top Popular Skills

Both positions will need to be filled by technology companies. That's why it is important to be clear about the differences between one and the other and so the expectations about both.

Data Skills

  • NoSQL
  • Hive
  • Excel
  • Azure
  • SAS
  • Hadoop
  • Tableau
  • AWS
  • Spark
  • Kafka

Programming Languages Skills

  • Python
  • SQL
  • R
  • Java
  • Scala
  • SAS
  • C
  • C#
  • C++
  • Matlab
  • Julia

Soft Skills

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Perseverance
  • Skepticism


The data scientist will usually come with a strong background in mathematics and statistics, while the software engineer will bring great know-how in development. But those jobs are evolving, so the two will continue to share more and more skills.

You will need to trust your I.T. leaders and see what skills should be needed when hiring that missing piece to your team. It is worth remembering that we are at a time where work-from-home is already a reality, and those positions can be perfectly filled with remote talent.

Soft skills are also something that you must not underestimate. A research conducted by Microsoft showed that companies benefit more from Artificial Intelligence when combining tech skills with soft skills. Reeskilling programs can help with that, as the survey revealed that 97% of the workers in the UAE want to be included in education initiatives.

Want more insight into talent trends in the technology industry? Click the link below to download our latest whitepaper.

Green Tech Talent Required to Boost Net Zero

We can help you with the best talent

As a leading provider of Technology and IT recruitment services, Airswift can help you source and attract the best talent to power your business. The challenge to recruit the best ones is increasing rapidly, with Technology / IT professionals having more job opportunities than ever before, so partnering with Airswift will ensure you have access to the best workforce at all times.

We have more than 60 offices around the world with over 9,000 contractors. Our experience speaks for itself.

The best way to grow your digital transformation is through collaboration. Our partnership is the best cost-effective way to increase the innovation you already need.

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