Jobseekers, Employers, Internal News

Middle East Special: Corina Goetz & Silver Swan’s Middle East Team

Hello, and welcome back to Life In Private Staffing season 2. For episode 5, I’m joined by Middle East specialist Corina Goetz, and Michael and Eve from the Silver Swan Middle East Team.

As you might have guessed, we’re talking all things Middle East in this week’s instalment. Specifically, what it’s actually like to work there, the rich culture, the brilliant job opportunities, and much, much more.

With over four years’ experience recruiting for private staffing positions in the Middle East, we’ve gotten to know the region very well, and we’re constantly surprised by the negativity that still surrounds it. 

That’s why we’ve decided to do this episode. We’re hoping to bust some myths and give you some real insight into how incredible life and work can be in this fascinating region.

So, let’s find out what our experts have to say. You can also listen to the entire episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your preferred podcast platform.

Busting myths about the Middle East

Corina has been working in the Middle East for over 20 years, so it’s safe to say she knows her stuff. 

During that time, she’s fallen in love with the rich culture of the region. So much so, in fact, that she founded a business around it. Star-CaT Ltd, provides cultural training courses for luxury hotels and brands looking to expand into the Middle East.

Over the years, Corina has developed an excellent understanding of Middle Eastern social practice, which she believes is typically misunderstood and misrepresented in the UK. “If we can just help guide people a little bit more and find out what is the real situation is, it will open up so many opportunities,” she said.

Of course, one of the biggest questions we get relates to the treatment of women, particularly in places like Saudi Arabia, so I was keen to hear about Corina’s experiences

“I have been to dinners where I was the only woman amongst 50 men, and it was totally fine. People were just more worried to make sure I was okay,” she said. “I’ve never ever felt unsafe there.” 

Corina suggests that candidates research the culture thoroughly beforehand, dress on the side of caution, and stay within the rules of their destination. “As long as you keep an open mind, and as long as you know what you can and can’t do, I think you’re totally fine,” she said.

Land of opportunity 

The most exciting thing about the Middle East market is the sheer scale of opportunity out there right now.

Michael, who’s been placing staff in the region since 2017, says it’s not uncommon to supply staff by the hundred to certain clients.

“Throughout the Middle East, clients own residences in one or many countries; they might have a plane or a yacht,” he said.

As a result, the range of roles needed is huge. From front- and back-of-house staff to chefs and spa therapists, there’s a need for “everything in hospitality you can think of.”

On top of that, the packages are some of the best in the world. “It’s tax-free,” he said. “And salaries range from typically between 4,000 and 6,000 US dollars a month. And with that, you get really nice accommodation, and all your living expenses are covered.”

Staff often live-in bespoke compounds which cater to a comfortable Western lifestyle, with pools, shops, spas and much more. Crucially, staff welfare has improved hugely in the last few years, with staff retention and work-life balance high on the agenda for employers.

Demand is high, even during a pandemic

Like every industry, there was a slump in recruitment during the initial stages of the pandemic. Even then, the major issue tended to be travel, not demand.

Luckily, with so much wealth at their disposal, our clients were able to circumnavigate tricky travel bans, flying in new recruits on private planes. At the end of the day, our clients still require staff, and so the need for high-quality hospitality candidates in the Middle East remains strong. 

Demand was so high last year; Silver Swan placed a full quota of recruits (which numbered in the hundreds) from August 2020. In fact, we placed the same amount of people last year, as we did in 2019. Demand looks set to be similar this year, too.

The process itself, from interview through to placing is relatively quick, which is a huge plus point given the stagnant jobs market in the UK right now. “It can take anywhere between four to eight weeks,” said Eve.

Watch the new episode now

We hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion about the Middle East. If you’d like to learn more, there’s much more where that came from. Don’t miss the full show for all the details.

Check out episode 5 of season 2 today – and don’t forget to subscribe!

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