Is the UAE all it used to be for expat professionals?

Is the UAE all it used to be for expat professionals?

Is the UAE all it used to be for expat professionals?

Is the UAE losing its charm as a favourite destination for ambitious expats?

Once upon a time, a reassignment to the UAE was the dream deal for its massive salaries, generous packages and perks as well as its totally tempting luxury lifestyle.Untaxed take-home salaries could either be spent or saved for the future, and the sunshine was year-round. Luxury beach resorts and glossy malls helped create the illusion, and those in the oil and gas sector thought the good times would never end.

Nowadays, it’s a different story. Although the sun still shines every day, oil prices aren’t what they used to be, the packages aren’t as generous, the salaries often don’t cover the rising cost of living and the high-end lifestyle doesn’t seem quite as irresistible as a result. Although the price of oil increased slightly during this current year, economic growth is still ‘moderate’, and risks being hit hard by the new world order dictated by Trump and manipulated by the Saudi crown prince. The introduction of VAT at 5 per cent hasn’t helped, as it’s causing a dent not only in expats’ finances but also in international perceptions of the UAE’s affordability as an international business hub.

The UAE’s expat community has helped the emirates get where they are today, not to mention populating the region. In 1980, its population count was just below one million, and is now at around nine million, the majority of the increase being due to expatriate workers. However, expat contracts are getting shorter and follow-on jobs with acceptable salaries are now harder and harder to find. It’s now an employers’ market, and expats who can’t afford to stay around for a miracle are leaving for pastures new. A single job application usually attracts a thousand or more applicants, many of whom are from Southeast Asia where salaries are far smaller.

An influx of workers happy to accept far less than would be normal for a Western expat professional is a sign of things to come, and is persuading many long-stayers to leave before their nest-eggs run out. The same tax-free initiatives which attracted millions of Westerners are doing the same for the new breed of expat, and employers are happy to pay Asian expats salaries they could only dream of at home. Western expat professionals nowadays are being advised to think carefully before taking on a UAE reassignment, as many are now forced to empty their savings accounts to keep up with the cost of living and the lifestyle. Also, it’s all too easy to get into debt as an expat in the UAE.

Related Stories:

Latest News: