Most in-demand IT jobs in the UAE

Joe Svetlik

Wednesday 27 September 2017

IT jobs are now top priority. Cybersecurity and mobility are particularly in-demand IT skills in the UAE. If you’re an expert in either, your skills could be highly valued.

Boom times

There’s something of a resurgence in hiring in the UAE at the moment. This is because of many reasons, two of which are the build-up to Expo 2020 (a Universal scale Registered Exposition that will take place in Dubai) and the proposed introduction of value-added tax (VAT) in 2018, along with potential changes to corporate tax that are still under discussion. According to Robert Half’s 2017 Salary Guide, 68 per cent of employers in the UAE will be seeking to attract new employees in the coming year. Inevitably, competition for the best candidates is hotting up.

So what are the most in-demand IT jobs in the region?


Dream Job, next exit creative road sign and clouds; Shutterstock ID 150852623; Purchase Order: -


Playing it safe on cybersecurity

The most pressing concern is protection from cybersecurity and hackers. According to PwC, only 25 per cent of company boards in the Middle East are involved in cybersecurity strategy. PwC also notes that only 45 per cent of Middle Eastern companies have a clear IT security strategy in place, and that 56 per cent of firms have experienced financial losses of more than $500,000 (€425,000).

Worried by the increasing prevalence of cyberattacks in the Western world, companies in the East are starting to see cybersecurity as a major corporate imperative. Thus, the rise of openings for IT jobs in UAE.

These skills are so in demand that companies are prepared to offer attractive salaries and benefits packages to the right candidates. This is unlikely to change any time soon, as UAE-based organisations adopt emerging technologies to compete on the global stage. Indeed, many are attracting IT professionals from all over the world, not just the region.

Smart cities and the Internet of Things are IT areas that are of particular interest. But of course, user experience, mobility, cloud, data security, ERP and big data are also pressing concerns.

And if you’re one of the lucky ones who gets hired? Check out these five tips for IT managers.

The road to success

So what does a candidate need in order to succeed? Obviously a deep knowledge of a specialism such as those mentioned above is a real asset. But firms are looking for more from their candidates.

As in any organisation, those in the UAE want someone who will be a good fit culturally. Candidates also need good collaborative skills to thrive in the busy world of IT.

Demonstrating how they will improve the business and make it more profitable and productive, both quickly and effectively, is a real boon. Applicants should tailor their application to each business too. The level of the business will vary – some may still be establishing basic systems, others will want to become more competitive and customer focused, while some will just want to safeguard against cyberattacks.

Are you experienced?

Experience in ITIL (information technology infrastructure library) and COBIT (control objectives for information and related technologies) are especially highly valued in the UAE. Knowledge of ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) are also huge assets, as is experience of project management infrastructure and application rollouts like SAP and Microsoft Dynamics.

Also in demand is experience with new platforms like the Internet of Things and convergent technologies. User and customer experience skills are also highly prized.

Mid to senior-level IT professionals are in particular demand. The most wanted positions include ERP application and functional experts, project managers, business partners, sales directors and managers, and IT security managers. So there’s a broad spread of roles available.

Pay day

Most of the in-demand positions in the UAE are senior, and the salaries reflect this. A chief information officer (CIO) can expect to earn between $261,500 (€222,000) and $417,000 (€355,000), which is slightly up on last year. A top IT security engineer can earn around $143,000 (€122,000), while development managers take home around $229,000 (€195,000).

Business systems managers earn less, around $212,000 (€180,000) at the top level, while systems administrators take home less still – $114,000 (€97,000) at the upper end.

However, an enterprise architect with more than 16 years’ experience earns just shy of $250,000 (€213,000), and a top network architect can make just short of $200,000 (€170,000).

Thinking of applying? Here are some interview tips to help you stand out from the IT crowd.

The UAE is a dynamic place, with lots of change on the horizon. The need for appropriately skilled and experienced IT professionals will only grow. Salaries are predicted to rise the most steeply in the aviation and financial services industries, as well as in technical roles.