Monday, 19 January 2009

Redundancies in Dubai

Things change so quickly in Dubai. Back in August everything was booming, in October the Nakheel Tower, touted as the world’s (latest) highest tower, was unveiled with great fanfare at Dubai Citiscape, but in what seemed like a nanosecond, by November redundancies were being announced in the construction and real estate sectors and the first shivers were felt in the expat community. Since then its been a horrible time, not a week has gone by without news of a friend or acquaintance being made redundant. Your right to reside in the UAE is linked to your employment; UAE residence visas are cancelled once a person’s employment is terminated, the person then having 30 days to leave the UAE. No job=no stay. Often wives and children are included on the husband’s visa so when his visa is cancelled so are theirs. Many companies have given redundant employees a grace period of two to three months to look for alternative work before their visa is cancelled. However, jobs are hard to find with companies across all sectors having frozen employment.
Faced with the realisation that there is little chance of future employment in Dubai, people are searching for work in the other emirates of the UAE or further afield in Qatar, Egypt and Saudi. However, some families are making the decision to leave Dubai and return home. For most this means that household furniture has to be either sold quickly or packed and shipped home. Word on the street is that the removal companies have a 5 week waiting list to give removal quotes, which isn’t much use if your visa expires in 30 days. (Of course you can keep doing visa runs though I guess). There’s also a 4 week delay in getting shipping containers out of the Dubai port. Kids are being pulled out of school, I’ve heard that at one of the large Indian schools with 10,000 students, 3,000 students have already applied for exit certificates.
The redundancies that have been publicised, and no doubt there are many, particularly amongst the labourers that haven’t been released:

Al Futtaim - unspecified number but all construction at DFC including the extension of the Festival City Mall has been put on hold.
Al Shafar General Contracting Company - 1,000
Atkins - 170 from Dubai (10% of their workforce)
Better Homes - 50
Carillion - 400 staff (nearly 20% of their workforce in Dubai)
Casa Dubai - all staff redundant, office closed and company in liquidation. Some investors have paid for what are still holes in the ground.
Damac - 200
Dubai International Capital - a 10th of its staff
Dulsco - 800 in two stages
Gulf First Bank - unspecified number
Gulf Leighton - at least 150
Hyder Consulting - 15
Istithmar World - 13 (doesn’t sound many but its 10% of their workforce)
Mace International - The company has announced that it has reduced its staffing levels as its clients shelve projects it was managing.
Mizin - 50
Nakheel - 500 redundant in November. Trump Tower on hold.
Omniyat - 69
Sama-ECH - 140 (Sama-ECH is the JV of local developer Sama Dubai and UK-based EC Harris)
Tameer - 180
WS Atkins - 170 plus 40 from their Manila office who were working on Dubai projects
WSP - 35
Woods Bagot - "dozens" of jobs had been lost.
Universal Studios - 50. The project was scheduled for completion in 2010, but is “now delayed to the first quarter of 2012 at the very earliest”.(Zawya)
· "The Arab world has lost 2.5 trillion dollars in the past four months" as a result of the global financial crisis (Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah)
· An average of 1,500 work permits and visas are being canceled in Dubai each day as companies lay off employees in the wake of the global financial crisis. (Arab News)
· 60 percent of development projects "have either been postponed or cancelled" by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states because of the global meltdown. (Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah)
· The giant hotel facades on the sides of the highway at Dubailand have disappeared
· Last week, Dubai Police revealed that an alarming number of cars bought on finance were being dumped at airports.
· Carillion has no live building projects in Dubai, only infrastructure projects which are continuing.

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