The UAE is among top 10 countries globally for expats while Dubai is ranked second-best city in the world after Singapore for expats looking to start a business, a survey released on Monday revealed.
A survey by HSBC highlights the UAE's entrepreneurial environment, job prospects and better salaries as primary factors attracting expats from across the world.
"Despite the volatility in the global economy and insecurity in job markets, the UAE's diverse business landscape and its position as a hub in the Middle East means that it continues to be an attractive destination for expats from across the world," the survey report said.
According to HSBC's Expat Explorer 2015 survey, the UAE has been singled out for the opportunities it offers people looking to build their careers or for those seeking to start their own businesses, with Dubai being chosen as the second-best city globally for expat entrepreneurs.
A survey among the alumni of a prestigious business school had shown that Dubai outclassed all other international cities to be ranked as the most attractive city in the world to live and work in as the appeal of the UAE as hub for new generation of top global business talent continued to rise.
An Insead alumni survey of 835 former students with international working experience on various aspects found that Dubai topped the list of 15 of the world's prominent cities as the best place to work in terms of professional and private life. Dubai excelled New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris, and ranked first in economic dynamism, third in overall attractiveness, and fourth in quality of life and cost of living.
The HSBC survey, now in its eighth year, was completed by 21,950 expats from 198 countries through an online questionnaire in March, April and May 2015. It examined the responses of 2,000 expats in the UAE, to assess their views towards life in their host countries. Although the high costs of living and raising children were cited as concerns by those in the UAE, career progression opportunities, high salaries, generous benefits packages, and a greater quality of life meant that the country was ranked the ninth best place globally to set up a home.
HSBC's research shows that expat entrepreneurs are being drawn to the world's financial hubs, with a vast majority saying that Singapore (87 per cent), Dubai (86 per cent), Hong Kong and London (both 85 per cent) are good places to start a business, far outpacing the global average of 56 per cent.
These cities provide the ideal foundations for ambitious entrepreneurial expats due to the good business conditions, world-class infrastructure, and work/life balance they offer.
A high level of confidence in the local economy is another reason that makes these cities attractive, with 56 per cent of expats in Dubai citing this sentiment, while over two-thirds (68 per cent) say that the emirate also offers political stability, the report said. "These attitudes appear to be well founded as the UAE ranks 22nd globally out of 189 countries in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business index, scoring well in areas such as paying taxes, trading across borders, dealing with construction permits and registering property," it added.
"Given these supportive conditions, it's not surprising that Dubai attracts twice as many expats looking to start their own businesses [nine per cent] compared to the global average [four per cent]. This is a ringing endorsement of the government's diversification efforts and its investment in setting up the infrastructure needed to nurture entrepreneurs," said Khalid Elgibali, head of retail banking and wealth management for the UAE and Mena at HSBC Bank Middle East.
The survey shows that despite global employment growth stalling at 1.4 per cent according to the International Labour Organisation, the UAE remains a bright spot as expats continue to flock to the country due to the better job prospects and higher salaries on offer. Over half (53 per cent) say that the country is a good place to advance a career - compared to the global average of 41 per cent - while a large number also believe it is a good place to acquire new skills (47 per cent).
In addition to the opportunities for career progression, the UAE is ranked highly for wage growth. According to the survey, expats say that on average they earn $124,000 per annum, which is nearly 20 per cent above than the global average ($104,000 per annum).
Expats here also enjoy generous benefits packages from employers, with the Middle East leading the way globally in this regard. In addition to financial assistance such as annual airfare allowances, more than half (55 per cent) of the expats here say that they receive accommodation support, compared to the global average of 33 per cent. This is helpful as the cost of living is an area of concern with almost eight out of 10 (79 per cent) stating that their accommodation is more expensive, and 60 per cent highlighting that they spend more on bills, than in their home countries.
"We recognise that high cost of living presents challenges for expats. While there certainly are aspects that are out of people's controls, we see that nearly two thirds [65 per cent] say that they have more disposable income since they moved to the country, which means that these expenses can be managed through better financial planning," Elgibali said.
"On the whole, the UAE continues to be a popular choice for expats as three in five [60 per cent] feel their overall quality of life is better here. This validation from expats shows that the country is one of the best destinations globally for those looking to move abroad to make a better life for themselves and their families."
By Isaac John
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