Dubai does not expect to see any drop in the number of people living in the emirate, according to Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD).
Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director-General of DNRD refuted any claims of a substantial fall in Dubai's population. UBS, a Swiss Bank, in its recent report said, Dubai would witness eight per cent drop in its population. According to that figure, 8,000 people will leave Dubai each month.
"I don't believe what they say. In December 2008, 86,000 new resident visas were issued and in November the number was 113,000. On the other hand, the number of resident visas cancelled is far less," he told Emirates Business.
"Nobody can guarantee what will happen tomorrow but I have the evidence, I have the numbers as I speak," he said.
However, one of the experts this paper spoke with is not quite optimistic. Wassim Karkabi, Partner, Regional Practice Leader, Emea, Industrial Practice at Stanton Chase, believes many people will leave the country as they lose their jobs. "Through a source we found out that Dubai as a whole faces a large number of visa cancellation requests per day. On a given day that number reached thousands," he said.
Al Marri disagreed. "Many people come and go. If you go to the airport you can see the rush of people coming here. The average number of people coming here has not decreased."
The news about job losses has unnerved many in Dubai. According to Ian Giulianotti, Associate Director, HRM Consulting at Nadia Recruitment, nearly 40-50 people are losing their jobs each day in the emirate, but adds this figure includes both unemployed people and those made redundant. "Some of then must have been out of jobs for two to three months," he said.
Tougher work environment
As the job market becomes more difficult, employees face longer working hours in a rigid environment.
Traditionally, employers implement flexible work environments to benefit employees, which is something that does not necessarily cost money and which may even save companies money, while increasing employee happiness. But that may not be the case any more for people working here, say experts.
"The situation at this moment does not demand the need for flexi-working. Those companies, which have such policies, are continuing with it. We expect the market for outsourcing to expand, as firms would like to keep their overheads and headcount lower. Since there are more seekers than takers, employee happiness is not a priority in a scenario where a large number of companies are fighting for survival," S Balakumar, Director, Dulsco HR Solutions told Emirates Business.
Tel Rashid, Regional Manager Middle East and Africa, SpenglerFox believes there is no room for flexibility at the moment. On the other hand, workers in sectors that have been affected will be accepting reduced salaries and harder working hours, he says.
Mahmoud El Sharkawy, Head of Middle East Private Banking, Pathway Resourcing thinks there will be some employers who will continue to be flexible. "I am sure flexibility will still be there as things here are not as bad as in the UK and the US," he says.
"However, employers are certainly not in the mood for being more flexible as there is a greater need for business development today. In times such as these, companies will want to maximise profits. An employee would be doing everything to save his/her job. Today, the market really favours the employer," he is quick to add.
However, Ihab Hashwa, Regional Operations Manager, CareerJunction Middle East, believes many companies will favour a flexible work environment even now. "Flexible work environments are certainly a possibility to keep costs down and ensure employee satisfaction. And, it would be safe to predict firms in 2009 will endeavor to facilitate more such environments to maintain a happy workforce," he says.