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Brits see better quality of life in the UAE

Dubai's image

The UAE has been ranked the third most popular destination for British expats - ahead of France and Spain.

August 18, 2013 10:25 by

Australia, Canada and New Zealand had previously comprised the top three in the NatWest International Personal Banking Quality of Life Report. The antipodean nation has now been usurped from the podium by the UAE.

Career opportunities are the key driver for expats heading to the UAE (75 per cent). Only eight per cent of respondents believe they will stay in the UAE for ever with the majority (92 per cent) consider themselves on a ‘temporary assignment’. A large disposable income is enjoyed by 96 per cent of those living in the UAE, Hong Kong, China and Singapore on a temporary basis.

“The most notable shifts in our Quality of Life results this year is the rise of the UAEas an expat destination,” said Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking.

“The once loved traditional expat communities of France, Spain and Portugal are diminishing, with quality of life drastically reducing for expats living there, making way for newcomers such as the UAE and Singapore. It seems expats are willing to adjust their lifestyle in exchange for a stronger economy and better job opportunities.”

Falling property prices, austerity measures and fears over job security are prompting 63 per cent of expats in Europe to consider returning to the UK. Expats living in Spain are feeling the pinch the most where unemployment stands at almost 20 per cent. A third (32 per cent) of respondents in Europe said they were already looking into returning to the UK.

Singapore is also increasingly attracting expats particularly those from the UK and Europe. The city state has built a reputation for offering a good quality of life, as well as a range of interesting career opportunities. Expats living in Singapore have higher average incomes and greater wealth than expats living anywhere else in the world, according to data by the Centre for Future Studies.

What do expats really think of Dubai?


So has Dubai’s appeal increased and what are the main barriers to attracting expat talent?

eFinancial Careers surveyed financial services professionals in the UK to quiz them on their views of the region and willingness to relocate to Dubai. We also received responses from expats currently working in Dubai to ask about their perceptions of the region – the upsides and downsides of living there as well as their career objectives. There were more than 700 respondents.

The study found that recruiters and HR professionals should be buoyed by the fact that attracting expat talent from the UK has ‘never been easier’. Approximately 88 per cent of respondents said that they would consider taking a financial services job in Dubai, and 57.1 per cent of these said that it was a more attractive destination to work than during the boom years of 2006 to 2008.

Dubai has attempted to not only position itself as a global financial centre, but also as a hub for tourism. Among the cities in the GCC, Dubai is perceived as liberal and boasting an active and vibrant lifestyle. Indeed, nearly 70 per cent of Dubai-based respondents to our survey said that lifestyle was a key benefit of working in the emirate.

According to the research, Dubai has still some way to go before dispelling preconceptions about a more restrictive lifestyle, as well as developing its infrastructure enough to drive down the cost of living.

However, purely from a career perspective, a stint in the Middle East is no longer viewed as a blot on your CV, and a combination of tumbling bonuses in western locations and rising salaries in the GCC has created pay parity.

The white paper, first published December 2012, will soon be available to download in full.

This article first appeared on sister publication

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