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Why Neom Could Lure India’s Savviest Engineers Away From America

Singapore, Canada, Australia, and the United States are the main destinations for most of India’s brightest engineers, technicians, and scientists. Since the salary is generally low and there are few chances for career progression, they have typically avoided working in the Middle East.  However , now they will probably be excited to work in Saudi Arabia. They will join the approximately ten million Indians who currently hold office jobs in the Middle East, along with artisans, construction workers, cleaners, and workers in the oil and gas sector.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, has begun a number of ambitious projects in an effort to dramatically reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependency on oil and gas exports by 2030. The Wall Street Journal claims that one such initiative, Neom, is under development and will pay senior managers $1.1 million a year, which is almost a quarter more than most large U.S. corporations. Saudi Arabia also offers managers the possibility of receiving an annual bonus and has zero tax on revenue earned. 

About 20 Saudi and foreign top managers work for Neom, including Vishal Wanchoo, a former G.E. executive. In his capacity as Oxagon’s CEO, he is in charge of the production processes. 64-year-old Wanchoo stated at the Second Saudi International Iron and Steel Conference earlier this year that, when completed,Oxagon, will be the industrial heart of the city of NEOM, which is a leading region for advanced clean industries, research, innovation, and supply chain platforms” 

Constructed entirely on the water, Oxagon is a 48-square-kilometer floating industrial complex featuring a port, manufacturing facilities, factories, a logistics center, and a cruise terminal. It is situated along the Red Sea. Oxagon’s proximity to the Suez Canal, which facilitates 13% of world trade, is expected to draw industries aimed at establishing an export-oriented economy through the use of robots, AI, and machine learning, according to Wanchoo. Thirty-five thousand people will live in the city by 2030, and it will offer 70,000 jobs. Other recreational opportunities include water and marine sports.

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Neom aims to become “a home for people who dream big” and will concentrate on developing significant industries such as water and energy, food, entertainment and culture, and mobility. Neom combines the Arabic term for future, Mustaqbel, with the Greek word for newness, Neo. It also represents the initial letter of the Saudi Crown Prince’s name, who serves as the board of directors chairman.

Nine million people will live in Neom when its first phase is finished, a development spanning about 10,000 square miles near the Red Sea. With significant investment from the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund, the project’s total estimated cost is $500 billion. Middle Eastern sovereign funds are anticipated to be among the other investors; in 2024, a public listing is planned to raise more capital.

Senior managers have a high turnover rate even though Neom’s high wages draw in candidates from all over the world. In response to a purportedly poisonous management culture, senior managers and the foreign chief executives of three massive projects have quit thus far. After completing significant projects in the country with success, Nasr, a former executive at the oil company Saudi Aramco, is said to have the support of the crown prince.

The Journal was informed by other former Western executives who worked on significant Saudi projects that, although Saudi executives can be direct and pushy, they are typically reasonable, and many expatriates succeed because of this. 

As per ALQST, a Saudi civil rights group located in Europe, earlier this month, a Saudi court sentenced three Huwaitat Tribe members to death for their organizing efforts against the forced expulsion of local nomads to make way for the construction of Neom. 

After posting videos on social media criticizing the displacement of local inhabitants, the brother of one of the three was fatally shot by police in 2020 at his residence. Top consulting firms McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and Oliver Wyman involved in the Neom project, ALQST, and other civil rights organizations wrote an open letter in 2020 urging them “to raise awareness of the linked abuses of human rights”.

The year 2021 saw Wanchoo join Neom. His previous employment spanned 22 years with G.E., a $70 billion power, aviation, energy, and healthcare conglomerate headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. In a suburb of Delhi, he most recently served as General Electric’s CEO of South Asia, where he was in charge of 17,000 workers across 16 production facilities and four R&D facilities. 

Planning to work in the UAE? Before that, read ten facts you need to know about working in the UAE.

In 1997, he began working for G.E. as the General Manager of the Chicago, United States-based Healthcare Information Systems branch. He worked as the head of strategy while stationed in India from 2011 to 2020. Formerly serving as vice president of Electronic Imaging Systems at Agfa Healthcare in New Jersey, Wanchoo worked there from 1988 to 1997 before joining G.E. Wanchoo has an M.S. in computer science from Southern California from 1982 in addition to a BTech in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

The Neom and other large-scale initiatives will require Saudi Arabia to recruit thousands of experts, including technologists, data scientists, engineers, and entry-level and mid-level engineers. Considering employment and other barriers for women in Arab nations, along with India’s vast talent pool excess, a significant portion of them will probably be Indian men. India is more appealing to Indians than Singapore and other Southeast Asian nations because of Saudi Arabia’s large, tax-free salaries.

However, Indian workers in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations are contract workers and are not eligible to apply for citizenship, just like in Singapore. It is also possible that Indians who work for thirty years in Middle Eastern corporations will not receive pensions and healthcare coverage from their employers when they retire. Since they may become citizens and receive pensions, healthcare, and other retirement advantages, the United States, Canada, and Australia will remain the top destinations for highly qualified Indians looking for more lucrative professions.

Neom and the other Saudi megaprojects, however, are likely to draw in Indians who are either working or seeking employment in the U.S. because they don’t want to deal with the uncertainty of having to wait ten years or longer for permanent residency or green cards. Furthermore, American citizens or permanent residents of Indian descent may look for work in Saudi Arabia due to the ongoing cycle of layoffs at American businesses, of which one cycle has just started. 

Comparably, a few Indians in their mid-career who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents will probably apply for positions at Neom and other Saudi ventures. Given that wages in Canada are sometimes lower than those in the United States, in their situation, the tax-free payments they receive in Saudi Arabia are significantly more advantageous. Wanchoo discussed his work at Neom at the Saudi Iron and Steel conference, saying, “Saudi Arabia faces a historic opportunity to lead the global transformation in renewable energy solutions, construction technologies, and modern industries compatible with the environment through these mega projects and cities.” 

In conclusion, Neom’s ambitious project and potential for growth could be a game-changer for India’s engineering talent market. With its focus on innovation and sustainability, Neom could attract the most skilled and savvy professionals from India, who are seeking new and exciting opportunities beyond the traditional Silicon Valley scene.

If you are a talented construction engineer looking for a job in Neom or any other part of the world. In that case, we at Dynamic Staffing Services will help you find the right opportunity that matches your skills, preferences, and career goals. As a trusted recruitment agency, we have a track record of successfully matching top candidates with top businesses across numerous industries. Contact us today at +91-11-40410000 or emailing enquiry@dss-hr.com to find out more about our services and how we can help you land the job of your dreams.

Contact us today: Dynamic Staffing Services.

About the author

Headquartered in Dubai, with offices in 13 countries spread across UK, Europe, Middle East and South Asia, Dynamic Staffing Services is an industry leader within its niche space of international recruitment. Over the last 45 years, DSS has successfully places over 450 000 candidates in the engineering, healthcare, hospitality, IT and manufacturing sector. Please visit us as www.dss-hr.com to learn more about us. We pride ourselves in being an ethical recruitment services provider following the most stringiest regulations towards code of conduct. We recruit talent from Eastern Europe, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Africa, Egypt, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia among other nationalities and place them into 24+ countries. Each year we give jobs to about 12 000 candidates.

A part of the 1500+ people strong Dynamic group, our sister company Dynamic World Education Community focuses on Study Abroad, by helping students find the right education (www.dynamicwec.net), Dynamic immigration focuses on providing immigration services (https://www.dss-hr.com/canada) to families wanting to move to Canada & Altudo focuses on software development and enhancing digital customer experiences (https://www.altudo.co )

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