Just a few short years ago most expats arriving in the UAE were there for a job offering a tax-free salary. It was, quite frankly, a financial move rather than one of lifestyle.
The summer heat, the sand storms, the deserts; it’s no wonder that most expats in the United Arab Emirates find it takes long to get used to. Not to mention that studies have shown Brits living in the UAE are also slow to integrate into society and tend not to learn the language or make many Emirati friends.
Now, however, there seems to be a shift afoot. Experts report that expats arriving in the UAE are now spending twice as long as before. No longer is the UAE being treated like a hotel; somewhere to visit for a period of time before moving on. Instead, opportunities abound and expat workers are finding themselves spending ever longer.
Top level executives are now spending twice as long in the Kingdom as they did before. There seem to be a number of reasons for these longer stays.
For one, there are still enough opportunities in the United Arab Emirates that some expats are being “poached” for other opportunities. While previously one would land a job in the UAE, move to the country for a period and then leave again when the work ended, now things aren’t so clear-cut.
It seems that a number of expats are managing to jump from one job to the next, making full use of all the opportunities at hand. The opportunities are good enough that expat workers don’t feel the need to move back to their home country in order to find a new job.
Next up are the desires of the Emirati companies themselves. As mentioned, integration into the UAE is challenging for many people, and in the Middle East business is done to very strict rules. Someone who understands this culture and is comfortable operating within it therefore becomes something of an asset.
Over time it seems that employers in the Middle East are becoming wise to this fact and are now more than happy to hire existing expats for new positions, rather than feeling the need to start from scratch and recruit from other countries.
For established expats in the Middle East this is good news. It means even more potential opportunities for employment. On the other this also suggests that executives looking to take up their first expat role in the UAE may struggle to get their foot in the door.
The greater your level of experience, and your contacts, the better.