TAG | working in Dubai
If I called you with a job offer based in Dubai, would you consider it?
I moved to Dubai in 2008 with three things in mind: earning money, soaking up some sun and escaping the dreaded recession. I first weighed up the negatives – in my case leaving family behind was by far the biggest issue. I was also worried about the effects of the global financial crisis on Dubai, and as I moved with my then girlfriend, rumours that Dubai can be a relationship graveyard.
The positives were clear – thoughts of travelling again, the buoyancy of the Dubai market (at the time) and the opportunity to advance my career with Morgan McKinley. Throw in plentiful sunny days and a tax free salary and I was sold.
I didn’t really know what to expect from Dubai. I’d heard it was too hot, that you couldn’t socialise in the same ways as in Europe and if you pay any mind to some media reports, that it was not the ideal place to emigrate to. What I’ve experienced in the last three years paints a very different picture.
At the risk of sounding like a travel advertisement, I love the weather (aside perhaps from a few of the summer months) and really enjoy the social scene and pace of life here in Dubai (fast or slow depending on your preference). Residents of Dubai get great hotel and restaurant deals, Asia and Africa are very realistic short term holiday destinations and major entertainment events are held here all the time. You do of course need to maintain a cautious respect for authority, which on the plus side, has made Dubai the safest city I’ve ever visited.
Accommodation is still comparatively expensive but the standard is often excellent and facilities usually include a gym, pool etc. Many companies have recently turned away from offering the full expat package – a result of Dubai having the best standard of living in the region and no longer falling under the classification of a hardship work destination. More often than not you can expect a cash salary that encompasses basic salary, accommodation and travel allowances but you can still expect your employer to cover VISA costs, medical coverage and one flight to your home country per year as standard. The overall result – if you’re not saving money here, you’re doing something wrong!
Reviewing my 2008 list of negatives three years later – I manage to get back to see my family every 3 months, unfortunately the recession hit here too as I feared but the market is still reasonably healthy in comparison to many other parts of the world, and to finish on a positive, my then girlfriend has recently become my wife, dismissing the relationship graveyard rumour!
Dubai is certainly not perfect (where is?) but for me it was well and truly worth the risk. So if you’ve ever thought about exploring career opportunities abroad, consider the above, and remember that professionals with good experience and qualifications can really fast track their way up the career ladder in emerging countries like the UAE.