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Ex-expats head back to the UAE as life at home disappoints

A growing economy, good salaries and a sunshine-filled lifestyle are among the key factors attracting former expatriates back to the UAE.

DUBAI// A growing economy, good salaries and a sunshine-filled lifestyle are among the key factors attracting former expatriates back to the UAE.

Many people who had previously lived in the Emirates but returned home, only to find societies struggling with high unemployment and financial cuts, have chosen to return.

Many of those revising their decision to leave are from Arab countries, although the UAE is also proving popular with former Indian and European residents.

Jennifer Campori, managing director of Charterhouse Recruitment in Dubai, said that unlike in Europe, where companies have all but frozen hiring, companies in the UAE tend to be recruiting.

Jobs in human resources, finance, accounting, hospitality and aviation are among the current boom sectors, with employers placing a high value on people with experience of the region for newly created posts.

"Most of the roles we are seeing are for middle to senior levels in these types of industries.

"Having previous experience of working in the UAE is hugely attractive for employers in this country because it's easier for people to settle when they return and they know how things work here," said Ms Campori.

"One of the interesting things is the number of Indians who are returning to work here even though their home country is doing fairly well.

"We have not seen a huge increase from places like Europe, but we have people from the US and from the region.

"I would say it's a steady trickle of people returning, but we expect that to grow in the coming months and years."

However, despite the UAE re-emerging as a big draw for job seekers, Ms Campori says potential residents are finding the salaries on offer now aren't as high as the days before the economic crisis.

"It's not silly money and, to be fair, it's not that much more than, say, the UK. But the big attraction is the tax-free element and the general lifestyle many expatriates enjoy here."

Internet jobs website Bayt.com advertises over 3,500 vacancies each day.

Suhail Masri, vice president of sales for the site, said it had seen an increase in the number of people wishing to return to the Emirates to work.

"The UAE, always a favourite work destination, is becoming even more so lately, and with the pace of recruitment picking up locally the attractiveness of the UAE continues to soar."

Most of the interest for jobs comes from expatriate Arabs in the Levant and North Africa, although people from Europe, Asia and Australia are also applying.

"For many roles, particularly those requiring a keen familiarity with the local business terrain and local contacts and connections, UAE experience is highly preferred by employers," he said.

Expatriates who choose to return do so for a number of reasons, including safety, the cosmopolitan lifestyle, a business-friendly environment and the good school and health system, said Mr Masri.

"There's also the leisure and entertainment facilities that include pristine beaches, malls, restaurants, athletic clubs and numerous other outlets that cater for the whole family," he said.

The website's Best Cities in the Mena survey, conducted in July, saw Dubai ranked as having the highest quality of life in the region, with 73 per cent of people who took part describing their lifestyle in the emirate as good or excellent.

Abu Dhabi came in second place with 70 per cent.

The UAE scored well with many rating law enforcement as the best in the region. The capital scored best on low levels of crime, with 81 per cent rating it as good or excellent.

nhanif@thenational.ae

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