In spite of its own financial collapse a few years back, at least in its largest city of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates seems to have an upbeat job market. Perhaps more interesting is that the majority of those who have moved to the UAE are signaling intentions to stay there indefinitely.
According to recent survey results on an Emerati website, the United Arab Emirates tops the region for job-seekers and potential expats, coming ahead of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. While in many ways this is not surprising since they are only comparing the countries of the Middle East, it’s still a bit of a revelation because Dubai in particular, which is by far the biggest expat center in the area, shed around one-third of its own economy a few years ago when its real estate boom turned around, and there are still thousands of partially-built office buildings and retail complexes around the huge city.
Most want to stay as long as they can
It’s hard to tell how scientific the other poll referenced in the article is, but the results do say that 54% of the respondents want to live in the UAE as long as they can. It’s also hard to know whether this means these people are interested in retiring in the UAE or if work visas always run out so they just want to stay until they can’t get the next one.
The poll says that 20 percent would like to stay for 2 to 5 years, while only 8 percent are interested in staying under 2 years. It appears that this survey was only of “expat professionals” which is certainly only a small percentage of total expats in the UAE. The majority continue to be in construction and services (such as wait staff and taxi drivers), and nearly all of them are only there to make money to send back home to India or China and so forth.
The UAE does have a lot going for it
Even though this survey might seem overly friendly to the United Arab Emirates, when you are there it’s easy to see why it’s such an appealing place to live for so many people. For one thing, since all the signs are in English (and Arabic) anyone who can read this article can get along just fine starting on the day they arrive, and that’s not true in most expat hotspots.
The cost of living is also cheaper in the UAE than in Europe or America, so most workers can live a better day to day lifestyle with a similar job than they could in London or New York City.
The sunny weather also seems to play a bit part in the appeal, especially for those from northern Europe who’ve grown up with gray skies more than half their lives. The summers are indeed ridiculously hot, but every car and building has powerful air conditioning so it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Can Dubai continue to expand?
Unlike Abu Dhabi, which slowly built itself up based on oil wealth and is only now diversifying into other fields such as tourism and finances, Dubai has virtually no oil and it set out long ago to be an international trading and tourism hum. After the real estate crash things were looking quite bleak, and it’s still a long way from getting back to where it even was at its peak.
Many are betting that Dubai will continue to struggle to expand as the world’s biggest economies will toil in low gear for years to come, but at least there is the infrastructure and will for expansion in Dubai, which isn’t true in many other places in the world. Those who bet on Dubai prospering again might be in an excellent position if things do work out that way.