UAE among top five career destinations globally according to expats

Press release
Published January 2nd, 2017 - 09:27 GMT

Expats have recognised the UAE as the 4th best destination globally for an international career. According to new data released by HSBC’s annual Expat Explorer Survey, the country improved from 6th place in 2015, in order to claim a position as one of the places expats most look to in order to build their careers. The UAE ranked as the best country in the Middle East and Asia, and followed Switzerland, Germany and Sweden, which were respectively the top destinations for a career abroad.

In its ninth edition, HSBC Expat Explorer: Achieving ambitions abroad examined the responses of nearly 27,000 expats from across the world, and 3,092 in the UAE, to assess their views towards their careers in their host countries.[1] In particular, the new data examines the views of people towards their host countries across eight categories: chances to acquire new skills; work-life balance; work culture; career progression; fulfilling work; benefits packages; and earnings prospects. The UAE improved across all eight indicators in comparison to the views of expats in 2015, indicating the continually improving work environment for people in the country.

Lucrative career prospects

Among the primary reasons expats highlighted the UAE as one of the top international career destinations was for its earnings prospects (ranked 3rd), and the benefits packages offered by employers (5th). The former, in particular, is an area that the UAE is consistently recognised for, with average salaries here being 14% higher than the global average. Nearly two-thirds of expats in the country (65%) said that they earn more than in their home country; only Switzerland (75%) and Qatar (66%) had a higher proportion of people that associated with this view.

Closely linked to this area, are the positive attitudes expressed towards the benefits packages offered by employers in the country. The Middle East and Africa region led the way in this regard with Saudi Arabia (95%), Egypt (94%), Oman (94%), Kenya (93%), and UAE (93%) making up the top five countries where the highest proportion of expats say they receive benefits as part of their employment packages. In fact, according to the survey, over 9 in 10 expats (91%) living in the Middle East receive at least one benefit as part of their contracts, compared to the global average of 67%. In the UAE, for instance, 56% of expats said they receive an accommodation allowance and 75% receive health benefits.

Commenting on the findings, Kunal Malani, Head of Customer Value Management, MENA, Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC Middle East, said: “Through the results of the research, it’s not surprising to see that the UAE continues to be rated highly globally for the financial benefits it offers. This has been one of the cornerstones of why people seek career opportunities here and it is indicative of the success of the government’s focus on diversification, which has resulted in the creation of an internationally recognised and sought after working environment with world-class infrastructure and services. Given these advantages, expats moving to and living in the UAE should look to make the best of their lives abroad.”

Driving career progression

The UAE ranked among the top ten (8th) in terms of career progression, with over half (54%) of expats recognising this to be the case since they moved from their home countries. While places such as Hong Kong (1st), Singapore (2nd), UK (3rd) and US (4th) rated highest in this area, expats in these countries highlighted that this is offset by a poor work-life balance, with all of these countries being below the global average in that category. 

In terms of the UAE, while the country was much closer to the global average when it came to work-life balance (24th), it rated highly for work culture (11th). Additionally, over half of expats (54%) stated that moving to the country gave them a chance to acquire new skills and that their work here is more fulfilling (51%). Also, expats in the UAE stated that views towards these areas have improved over the past year, with more residents reflecting positive sentiments on these points compared to their attitudes in 2015.  

Malani added: “As we move into the New Year, many people see a move abroad as a chance for a fresh start or for an opportunity to meet their personal goals such as creating a secure financial future for themselves and their families, and professional ambitions such as making strides in their careers. In line with this thinking, we have launched our #OneStepCloser campaign, which recognises and supports customers making progress towards their important life ambitions.”

Background Information


HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world, with operations in 66 countries and territories. We aim to be where the growth is, enabling businesses to thrive and economies to prosper, and, ultimately, helping people to fulfil their hopes and realise their ambitions.


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