Expo effect, growth and RPO in the Middle East


The Middle East is a growth market. The United Arab Emirates has been upgraded to Emerging Market status from Frontier Market, marking a new era for foreign direct investment. And with Dubai winning the Expo 2020, this global eye on the city is bound to further accelerate its growth. It’s expected that more than 275,000 jobs will be created.

With this upward curve in mind, organisations need to ramp up their recruitment. The way that employers attract talent will have to be smarter, more sophisticated and more complex. They will need to source people from all over the world. Old methods of recruitment just won’t do.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) has only existed in the region for the past five or six years, as oppose to 15-20 years in the UK or the US. The HR industry as a whole hasn’t developed as quickly as it has in the western world – partly because it’s a much more relationship-driven market in the Middle East.

A more competitive market

But the market has changed a lot in the past seven years. The financial crisis didn’t hit as hard here as in some other countries, but it did hit. And that was quite a good thing for the recruitment and RPO industry because it weeded out some of the weaker players. It’s a much more established, competitive market now.

‘Outsourcing’ is almost a dirty word in the Middle East. It has the connotation of high-volume blue collar workers. People think that outsourcing is done because it’s cheaper, and that equals reduced quality of service, when in fact the opposite should be true. We think the industry should be re-named Recruitment Performance Optimisation. Because that’s the whole point of RPO; to optimise recruitment, end to end.

We predict a surge in RPO in the next five years, as people realise that instead of ‘outsourcing’ your one role to an agency who will find you some CVs, you can outsource your entire function and bring in a team of people who will transform your ability to get you the people you need.