Exploring Healthcare Recruitment Trends in the UAE

Oct 10, 2023

The UAE healthcare industry, a unique market, teems with job opportunities and prosperity. A blend of private and public healthcare, the system has enabled thousands of medical workers to launch and advance their careers. 

Predictions indicate that the demand for healthcare staffing in the UAE will only rise in the coming years, influenced by several factors including expanding populations, pioneering technology and favourable benefits. 

With its dynamic mix of cultures and large expat population, the UAE also exhibits specialised recruitment trends, including the Emiratization program and the types of compensation packages crafted to retain overseas workers. 

Read on to explore some of the current healthcare recruitment trends in the UAE. 

Healthcare Recruitment Trends in UAE (2023)

Technological Integration

Technological advances have dramatically influenced recruitment practices in the UAE, transforming the speed and ease with which hiring can occur. 

In recent years, the UAE has embraced positive changes in recruitment operations, including the incorporation of AI and machine learning. As the demand for medical staff increases, technology adaption has also increased in recruitment agencies nationwide. 

For instance, recruiters can now conduct interviews with individuals worldwide, enabling operations in new and efficient manners. In a market keen on attracting new foreign expats, global operating technology is vital. 

Specialised internal systems also aid recruiters in reviewing large volumes of applications and maintaining pools of skilled and qualified candidates. 

Specialisation Focus

Over time, recruitment trends in the UAE healthcare industry have evolved, now placing a strong focus on specialised professionals. Internationally recognised and esteemed facilities across the region require physicians and other roles with specific qualifications and expertise. 

A pivotal reason is the rise of medical tourism in the UAE, enticing many global travellers to spend on medical procedures conducted here. This influx demands qualified and specialised professionals capable of executing medical surgeries, procedures and treatments. 

Those with additional experience, qualifications and certifications now find themselves in high demand amongst healthcare recruiters, who often need to fill numerous specialised vacancies using specific healthcare recruitment strategies. Even highly qualified professionals often seek to enhance their credentials in the UAE to meet specific demands and job requirements. 

Emiratisation in Healthcare 

Emirati nationals constitute approximately 11.5 per cent of the UAE's population, with expats making up the remainder. 

To assure promising job opportunities for them, the UAE government introduced an initiative aimed at increasing the number of Emiratis in the workforce and enhancing their economic contributions. 

In the private sector, policy mandates that a company with 50 or fewer employees on their payroll must employ at least one Emirati, a target that rises with company size. In healthcare, these targets fluctuate, as different emirates have varying Emiratisation objectives. 

This recruitment trend, unique compare to other countries, prompts recruitment agencies to utilise various portals and software to pinpoint Emirati talent for their vacancies. While this initiative has successfully nurtured local healthcare professionals and ensured their industry thrives, it can post its own recruitment challenges. This is particularly evident if no suitable Emirati applicants apply and vacancies, especially in specialised or complex medical positions, must be filled to meet targets. 

Expatriate Recruitment 

Contrasting with local recruitment, expatriate recruitment constitutes most of the UAE healthcare workforce, showcasing a prominent trend of reliance on international professionals. 

The UAE heavily relies on foreign nationals to support the medical industry, in roles ranging from surgeons to nurses and caregivers. A significant recruitment trend in the UAE involves attracting individuals to work overseas in large numbers, often requiring them to leave their loved ones behind. 

Consequently, much overseas recruitment occurs in conjunction with partner agencies in other countries and online through advertisements, job portals and social media. 

Nationalities that predominately make up the UAE population, such as Indians, Pakistanis and Filipinos are in high demand for many healthcare positions, especially those needed in significant quantities, like nurses and nurse assistants. 

Competitive Compensation Packages 

A substantial challenge in UAE healthcare recruitment lies in enticing expats to work here. Given that professionals often need to move overseas and leave their home country, UAE companies recognize the necessity of offering clear and compelling benefits for working in the UAE. 

Thus, companies and recuiters are adopting a trend of prominently highlighting company compensations in job adverts, detailing aspects from accomodation and tax-free salaries to medical insurance and flight ticket allowances to candidates' home countries. 

Salaries for medical staff in the UAE are considerably higher than in many expatriates' home countries, providing a significant incentive and crucial selling point for recruiters. Without these benefits, healthcare recruitment agencies and facilities might struggle to draw top talent. 

Soft Skills: A Top Priority

While specialised skills continue to be vital, healthcare recruiters in the UAE are placing an increasing importance on soft skills. These are crucial for building relationships with colleagues and patients, especially in a medical environment where communication is key. 

In the field of private homecare, where professionals often work one-on-one with a patient, recruiters are now prioritising candidates with strong soft skills to ensure the establishment of robust patient relationships. 

Increase in Demand for Homecare Nurses

The preference for home care over hospital treatment intensified during the covid-19 pandemic, a trend which is evident in the UAE. This is also a trend being seen globally, indicating a shift to home services. 

Advancements in healthcare technologies and equipment have facilitated quality treatment in personal environments, gaining popularity both locally and globally. This shift has sparked a substantial demand for homecare and private nurses in the UAE. 

Homecare nurses enable individuals to avoid hospital visits and extended stays which requires that they are skilled in providing a wide range of care, from post-surgical to maternity, elderly and palliative care. 

As the UAE's population ages, there has been a subsequent surge in recruitment for homecare workers. Companies are faced with the challenge of being the chosen employer for overseas nurses amidst competition, which is why offering impressive company benefits has become a pivotal strategy for recruiters. 

Rise in Medical Tourism

The rise of medical tourism is notably impacting healthcare recruitment in the UAE. Facilities in emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are observing an influx of foreign tourists seeking to undergo medical procedures abroad.

Specialities such as dermatology, cosmetic surgery, and dentistry are impacted by this surge in medical tourism, compelling recruitment agencies to vigorously address the increasing demand. 

The Future of Healthcare Recruitment in the UAE 

Continued Technological Advancements 

Anticipated advancements in medical technology, online care, and AI are set to bring substantial changes to the healthcare industry. These innovations are expected to reshape recruitment practices, modifying the methods of hiring, the location of work, and the requisite skills and qualifications for roles. 

Increased Focus on Mental Health 

While there is currently a substantial focus on professionals in physical health, a rise in demand for mental health professionals is also anticipated. The UAE, already a beacon for physical healthcare, is expected to aspire to a similar stature in mental and psychological health, needing global recruitment to meet future needs. 

Training and Education 

To meet the demands of healthcare facilities across the UAE, often recruitment needs to look overseas. However, there are long-term strategies in place aiming to reduce this dependency and cultivate local talent pools. 

Government investment in local universities and training centers, specialising in healthcare, medicine, and nursing, is intended to facilitate staff retention in the future. 

By enticing students to pursue their studies at esteemed educational establishments, the aim is to retain them in the UAE post-graduation, transitioning directly into professional roles. 


The UAE is associated with numerous unique recruitment trends and patterns, particularly in the healthcare sector. 

As a diverse and dynamic country that has established itself in the healthcare domain, securing the right staff to work within the industry presents its challenges. Unlike other countries and systems, various factors come into play in the UAE, including the encouragement of overseas work and ensuring worker retention. 

In the coming years, recruitment in the UAE is set to evolve further, with new trends emerging to align with the continuously expanding industry. 

For additional insights into how healthcare recruitment agencies operate and some optimal strategies to hire medical professionals in the UAE, you can explore further here