In the ever-evolving landscape of business, it is crucial for companies to keep on top of the latest hiring trends to remain competitive. In the Middle East and Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, where economic growth and digital transformation are on the rise, the need for agile and innovative talent strategies are more important than ever to keep up with candidate expectations.

Three key hiring trends have emerged as game-changers in the region: flexible working, technology innovations, and diversity. These trends are not only shaping the way companies recruit and retain talent but also disrupting traditional approaches to workforce management.


Flexible working

As the world becomes more connected, the way we work is changing. In the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions, the rise of ‘working from home’ culture has disrupted traditional talent strategies, forcing companies to adapt to meet the expectations of top talent. 
Changing workforce policies in the Middle East
The UAE has recognised the need for flexible working arrangements. In a large survey conducted by the PwC Middle East across 44 countries, it was also found that young people in particular have a strong preference for fully remote or flexible roles. 
Factors affecting the job market:  
•    In the UAE 70% of companies have embraced hybrid work culture
•    43% of Gen Zs across the Middle East prefer remote or hybrid working roles
•    63% of employees across the Middle East claim they were able to work remotely
Covid and developing technologies have dramatically changed working policies in the Middle East and this continues to surge with the positive economic trends in the region.

New APAC work policies post COVID

The benefits of remote work arrangements in the APAC countries have become more apparent during the pandemic as employees have proven that they can still be productive regardless of their work location. As a result, candidates are expected to seek more flexible work arrangements as employer policies change to adapt to the recruitment market.

Factors affecting the job market:
•    65% of employees across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) believed working hybrid has improved the quality of their work
•    70% of APAC workers want greater location flexibility
•    71% of APAC workers want greater time flexibility

Companies that think expansively about location opportunities will be more attractive employers in the future. Apple is already moving roughly five percent of its iPhone 14 production to India, while other manufacturers are expanding operations in Vietnam as an alternative to China. 


The rise of technology has been a major trend in recent years, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Middle East and APAC regions. From blockchain to artificial intelligence, companies are increasingly turning to technology to drive growth and gain a competitive edge.
Leading Middle East tech innovations.

The UAE is leading digital innovation with various initiatives, including a focus on becoming a global metaverse hub and increasing the number of blockchain companies in the region. These initiatives are expected to create more than 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030, with a surge of hiring activity expected in 2023.

The technology industry in the UAE is already experiencing strong demand for talent, shown by the 10% year-on-year salary increase seen in the sector.
Data-driven recruitment is also gaining momentum in the UAE, as HR professionals increasingly rely on data to make efficient and unbiased hiring decisions. We are also seeing artificial intelligence playing an increasingly significant role in recruitment, with automation transforming the hiring process to improve ease and efficiency. 

APAC adopts more digital practices

Similarly in APAC, digital skills have become extremely relevant for candidates, as many work remotely and rely on productivity tools like Zoom, Trello, and Slack. As a result, companies are increasingly seeking digitally-competent personnel. 
Cloud adoption is another area of growth, leading to an increased demand for cybersecurity services. Malaysia, for example, has set a target of having 20,000 cybersecurity professionals by 2025, filling roles in security analysis, cyber threat intelligence, and security architecture.


With an increase in globalisation and legislation changes comes a more diverse approach to hiring. The UAE and APAC regions include over 50 countries with various industries and diverse talent pools. Spurred by remote working trends, organisations are forced to consider the cultural dynamic of their work force and sourcing international talent. 

The Middle East and employment legislation

In recent years, the UAE has seen a wave of changes in employment legislation, resulting in a more diverse and competitive job market. One of the most significant changes is the introduction of the job seeker visa, which allows individuals to enter the country and search for employment opportunities before securing a job.

There are also new social security employment initiatives which launched this year providing compensation for employees who lost their job for up to three months.

APAC employee attitudes towards diversity

In the Asia Pacific APAC region, organisations are embracing diversity and inclusion initiatives. Studies show that diverse and inclusive teams make better decisions 87% of the time and bring products to the market faster 75% of the time.
90% of employees expect companies to act and communicate about diversity, equality, and inclusivity in their place of work. 


So what’s the forecast for recruiting in these regions?

The job market in the Middle East has been on the rise in recent years with its buoyant economy, this is expected to continue in 2023 and beyond. The United Arab Emirates is one of the big regions to look out for in terms of recruitment  potential, being recognised as having some of the cheapest public transport in the world and recently expanding their logistics market with a new $11.9 billion rail freight network.

The APAC region is not far behind in terms of economic activity, accounting for about 37% of the world’s GDP with expectations to rise to 42% by 2040. This is marked by new developments with countries like India, surpassing the UK GDP in 2021, with growth in its service and start up sectors. ASEAN countries are also a source of growth in the region with growing domestic and export markets.

As these economies and technology continues to develop, we will see increasing demand for skilled talent to fill new job opportunities and changes in the way companies hire. Remote work, technology and diversity are some of the biggest of many considerations.
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