Bahrain ranks highest in the region for expat living: InterNations

Published August 30th, 2016 - 12:00 GMT
Most expats in the region agree that it is not necessary to speak Arabic to get by in everyday life, especially in Bahrain, Oman, and the UAE, where Arabic and English are the main business languages. (File photo)
Most expats in the region agree that it is not necessary to speak Arabic to get by in everyday life, especially in Bahrain, Oman, and the UAE, where Arabic and English are the main business languages. (File photo)

Bahrain continues to be the number one destination for expatriates in the region.

The third annual InterNations Expat Insider 2016 survey, which was made up of more than 14,000 respondents, put Bahrain in the top 25 countries. Within the GCC, Oman was the only other top 25 country, with the UAE at 40 and Qatar,

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ending up at the very bottom of the survey. The study is one of the most extensive studies ever conducted to explore the general living situation of expatriates. The results among the various destinations in the Ease of Settling Index vary greatly, the report stated.

Oman and Bahrain feature in the global top 15 while Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait rank 61st, 66th, and 67th out of 67, respectively. Unsurprisingly, the responses to individual questions cover a wide range of reactions, ranging from a mere 35 per cent of expats saying the locals are friendly in Kuwait, to an overwhelming 87pc positive ratings in Oman.

Furthermore, 21pc of expats in Oman and Bahrain say that making local friends is very easy, compared to the worldwide average of 12pc. However, all the other Gulf states have below-average ratings for this question, and it seems that the language might also be a contributing factor.

That said, most respondents in Bahrain agree that learning Arabic is not an important factor in settling in. Most expats in the region (between 56pc and 74pc) agree that it is not necessary to speak Arabic to get by in everyday life, especially in Bahrain, Oman, and the UAE, where Arabic and English are the main business languages, it said.The only exception to this rule is Saudi Arabia, where only 43pc of the respondents think it’s easy to get by without speaking the language, exactly the same proportion as the global average.

However, overall Bahrain is rated highly for both childcare and education. When it comes to the available childcare options, only Bahrain (48pc) and the UAE (51pc) outperform the global average of 46pc positive ratings, the report said.

Oman, however, has the lowest percentage in the region, with only 23pc of expats saying they are satisfied with the availability of childcare. Furthermore, childcare options seem to be both too few and too expensive: Nearly a quarter of the expats in Qatar (24pc) think that childcare is very difficult to afford.

The UAE (17pc) and Saudi Arabia (15pc) also do worse than the worldwide average of 11pc for those who are completely dissatisfied with the cost of childcare; however, only 3pc of expats in Bahrain say that childcare is very expensive.

Expats in the region are generally as satisfied as the global average among expat parents when it comes to the quality of education (64pc positive ratings worldwide). Bahrain and Saudi Arabia stand out, though – the one in a positive way, the other less so. In fact, more than two-thirds of expat parents in Bahrain (69pc) are generally satisfied with the quality of education, while only 38pc say the same about Saudi Arabia.

Indians make up the vast majority of expats in the region, except in Saudi Arabia. "An interesting fact about the region is that Indian expats constitute the largest nationality in terms of numbers, except for Saudi Arabia, where Pakistani expats are the most numerous,” they said. The most likely explanation would be the availability of jobs, often with higher wages than in their home countries, coupled with the relative proximity of the Gulf region to South Asia. Respondents are not particularly satisfied with the career prospects offered in the region with only the UAE and Bahrain outperforming the worldwide average of 55pc positive ratings, with 62pc and 57pc, respectively.


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