The Middle East in Focus

The Talmix Atlas is our analysis of our Talent Marketplace datasets (across both our international client base and 60,000+ talent network) to reveal key findings about workforce and talent trends across geographies in 2023.

This week, we are diving into in the Middle East – exploring trends, changes, successes and key insights for both businesses and business talent.

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Using Talent Marketplaces – the challenge of finding the right talent

Whilst Middle East economies have traditionally depended on expat workforces, Talmix has seen a rise in demand in recent years for local talent on the marketplace (particularly amongst the GCC) - a rise corresponding to an evolution in governmental policies in the region, advocating greater adoption of local resources across workforces.

This is particularly evident in Saudi Arabia, which, as part of its Saudi Vision 2030 reform, is aiming to commit organisations to meeting fixed percentages of employed local talent.

Across other Gulf States, however, the drive for a global labour pool has not diminished, despite mandates for more localised workforces. Businesses still stand to profit from the quality guarantee of external talent – especially critical for ensuring fast and flawless post-Covid growth. This is most evident in the UAE, where 90% of job postings have been filled by foreign workers in the last twelve months.

A huge challenge for many clients is rooted in bringing in this external labour with speed and efficiency. The process can often take six months to navigate, time many businesses do not have. The Talmix Marketplace has become a go-to resource to improve the speed of the hiring process – a most pleasing statistic drawn from the data is that our Middle East clients see the fastest average time to hire than any other region in the world (Qatar leads the way globally).

Despite a conflict with nationalisation agendas, businesses in the Middle East are aware that they need to be global enterprises and make the best use of external expertise in order to better grow local economies and talent. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the local/foreign hiring balance over the next few years, and see which way the scales tip.

Client & Talent Growth

The number of clients using the Talmix Marketplace across the Middle East has grown over last 12 months, and the number of projects posted in the same period has risen by an emphatic 49%.

Talent across the Middle East makes up 11% of the global Talmix talent network, a 50% growth since 2017.

The region is also leading the way in terms of project applications - the average number made per project on our marketplace has increased 25% in the last 24 months alone, at an average of 77 per project, indicating very high demand in the region on both the client and talent side.

Remote Job Postings on the Rise

In line with the global trend, organisations in the Middle East are embracing a wider range of working arrangements. In some cases, face-to-face work is still demanded - and in the consulting sector, our clients still expect a mix of in-person and off-site work for projects posted on the Talmix platform.

Remote job postings are growing. Across the Talmix Marketplace, 1 in every 5 projects posted was listed as “remote-first” in 2022. Of these, EMEA has seen the biggest increase in remote hires at 34%.

Our data supports the hypothesis that businesses are adjusting their hiring initiatives and factoring in longer-term remote working as part of their future workforce strategies - extending the typical talent pools through lifting geographical hiring barriers.

Alongside a rise in job postings has been a rise in the number of remote job applications across our global talent network. The Middle East saw a staggering 95% increase in remote job applications in 2022.


The UAE has shown the biggest month-by-month growth in remote job postings, a figure higher than that of any European country. 

Female Talent on the Rise

Only 19% of the labour force in the Middle East is female, the lowest worldwide. Whilst there are plans and policies to address the gender gap, legal and social discrimination and gender-related biases still hinder female employment ambitions in the region.

That is not to say, however, that we are not seeing positive signs of change. The region has been making commitments to address the gender divide - in Saudi Arabia, the rate of employment for women has risen to more than 30 percent, and across other Gulf countries, like the UAE and Kuwait, the figure is nearly 50 percent.[1]

More programmes are being launched with the aim of supporting the creation of extra jobs for women in the region – most notably the recent partnership between Mastercard and Women Choice. In fact, the payments space in the region has seen the highest percentage of female hires for projects posted on the Talmix platform for well over a decade.

Looking at the Talmix Marketplace data, the percentage of female hires is still the lowest globally –  at 10% in 2022 (compared to 39% in Europe). However, this does represent growth in the region: in 2017, female talent accounted for only 7% of the ME network, and now sits at 27%.

Of the 55% increase in MEA talent registrations to the network since 2020, female talent accounts for 57% of this growth. Additionally, 3 of the top 10 highest earners in the region in 2022 were women – this figure stood at 0 between 2017 and 2020.

In-demand skills across the region

An increasing demand for tech roles reflects the ongoing advance of digital transformations in the Middle East. On the Talmix marketplace, jobs related to AI, digital transformation, and analyst roles are in increased demand. The financial sector is also booming, as many global companies expand operations in the region – portfolio management, transformation consultants, and regional development positions are in particularly high demand across GCC nations.

Interested in finding out more? Feel free to get in touch with us at Support if there's anything you'd like to discuss further, for insights into the type of talent available across the Middle East , and for any project support of your own.


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