x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Dubai tops list of places to live among oil and gas professionals

Dubai is establishing itself as a firm favourite among oil and gas professionals, as the city successfully positions itself as a hub for energy companies.

Dubai is establishing itself as a firm favourite among oil and gas professionals as the city successfully positions itself as a hub for energy companies.

Ease of living, the absence of taxes and a good infrastructure appeal to expats working in the industry.

Dubai's popularity with expats in turn attracts companies looking for a base to exploit the oil and gas potential of the Middle East and Africa, and a growing number are setting up shop here.

"There are a number of oil and gas service companies that made Dubai its base as it's easier to attract professionals here," said Raj Sharma, the regional director at the recruitment agency Hays.

With good flight connections to the region and beyond, and the logistics infrastructure of Jebel Ali in support, companies can move people and machinery to destinations in the Arabian Gulf and farther afield with ease.

"It's a central hub and people can get around the various areas, as well as Africa," said Terry Willis, a managing director at the Energy Industries Council, a British trade body.

Dubai's own natural resources are limited to a few small offshore fields, but the hydrocarbon riches of its neighbours compensate for that.

Oilfield service providers such as Baker Hughes and Halliburton have large offices in the city, which provide the administrative centre for operations in the Gulf and beyond.

Safety is still a major concern in Iraq, and the regional offices of the oil companies active there are often in Dubai.

An example is Russia's Lukoil, which is developing West Qurna-2, Iraq's biggest oilfield.

Iraq, where international oil companies are toiling to restore oil production after two wars and years of sanctions and neglect, is not the only growth market.

Abu Dhabi is also working to increase production, and opportunities are opening up in East Africa, where large reserves of gas have recently been discovered.

"The UAE is increasingly positioning itself as an energy hub for the Middle East and Africa. Many companies who are taking up opportunities there are going to set up a base here," said James McCallum, the chief executive and co-founder of Senergy, a company servicing the energy sector.

Dubai has always been adept at exploiting a niche, and its massive investment in housing, air travel and luxury hotels sets it apart from most cities in the region.

"It's the lifestyle, which is very free and relaxing," said Mr Sharma.

According to a survey of nearly 8,000 oil and gas professionals conducted by Rigzone, the emirate is now the most popular place to live, trumping cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.