Is the Dubai dream becoming an expat nightmare?

Posted on 14 Oct at 6 PM in UAE
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Is the Dubai dream becoming an expat nightmare?

Is the Dubai dream becoming an expat nightmare?

A recent study has revealed some 33 per cent of British expats living and working in Dubai are looking to return to the UK in the near future.

The latest survey of British expat professionals in Dubai gives a clear signal that all is not as it was in the glittering desert conurbation, with half of the respondents also believing the UK has changed for the worse. The study involved 1,125 British expat professionals, with the majority believing Brexit has had a big influence on their thinking. Unsurprisingly, 41 per cent of respondents said the move to the UAE was intended to improve their lifestyles, with just nine per cent saying they’d moved to be closer to family members already living in the UAE.

According to the survey, between 100,000 and 200,000 British expats are living in the UAE at present, a figure which has steadily increased over the past 11 years from the original count of just 20,000 Brits in the emirate. Just over a quarter of respondents were attracted by the promise of a tax-free salary, with just under three quarters of expatriates now working in the region earning higher salaries than in the home country. According to a Deutsche Bank survey, expat professionals have around $2,068 left to spend every month, after rent and other regular expenses have been paid, around 19 per cent less than last year.

According to one expat responder, many people are now leaving or considering doing so, with many talented and experienced professionals struggling to find acceptable new jobs in the emirate as salaries now being offered are lower than the level of lifestyle costs. It’s now an employers’ market, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and falling oil prices have led to a squeeze on salaries as well as a property market decline.

In addition, this year’s introduction of 5 per cent VAT hasn’t helped expats on less than generous salaries, especially as employers are freezing existing wage levels. The Dubai dream at its height was a magnet for expat top talent, but the already-diminished dream may yet turn into a nightmare.

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