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The expat dilemma: ‘Should I stay or should I go?’
Analysts are bullish on the UAE economy. But for many expatriates, the decision to stay or head home depends on complex cultural and personal issues, and not just financial concerns.
April 27, 2010 3:44 by Katherine Azmeh
Despite the turmoil of the financial crisis and Dubai’s debt problems, analysts are bullish on the UAE. Investor confidence has posted marked gains following the announcement of Dubai World’s restructuring proposal, and the Emirates as a whole is now seen as an economic bright spot in the region.
The net effect has been a boost in business confidence, which makes for reassuring news for nationals and expats alike. SHUAA Capital last week announced a “dramatic, positive change in investor sentiment towards the UAE,” according to the results of their GCC Investor Sentiment Index. Words like “sustained market recovery” and “driver of sentiment” were used to describe the upbeat attitude about the Emirates.
In light of the reassuring news, many expats who were considering moving home are again grappling with financial, personal, and lifestyle questions related to staying on in the region.
Of course, many have already left the country. Miriam, a 30-something architect from Beirut, opted against renewing her contract with a UAE firm, choosing instead to return home. “It just didn’t make sense economically to be paying such high rents,” she told Kipp.
Others have been put off making a move to the UAE. Amy, an American working in Lebanon, told Kipp that she decided not to take a contract in Dubai because of lifestyle issues. “For me it’s the lack of pubs, nightclubs, and ambience. It can’t compare to what we enjoy here,” she says.
But millions of foreigners remain in the UAE (expats account for more than 80 percent of the population) and thousands more arrive every week. They are drawn by numerous factors, ranging from the salaries on offer and the lack of income tax, to the lifestyle and culture.
Here are some of the issues – good and bad – cited by expats pondering the question, ‘should I stay or should I go?’
Do you live in the UAE? What are your impressions of expat life? Have your say by submitting a comment below.