The Life: Expats in the UAE are increasingly taking longer term views of their careers here and that is an advantage and poses challenge to local governments, says Peter Felix of Association of Executive Search Consultants.
Executives in region sock away salaries
Peter Felix, the president of the Association of Executive Search Consultants in Singapore, studied the savings habits of executives in the Middle East in September and found that the UAE is becoming a preferred destination to build careers for expat executives. The survey studied 74 senior executives who make a minimum of US$100,000 (Dh367,330) a year.
What was the purpose of the study?
To survey senior executives living in the Middle East on a range of topics, such as executive mobility, compensation and work/life balance to find out their opinions and attitudes on these important subjects.
What did you find?
I believe the significant finding from the survey was that the UAE is considered as a preferred location for an expat to build a career for the long term. Once, the UAE might have been considered a place for an executive to build their career for two to three years and then move on to the next opportunity, but that attitude seems to be changing. Expatriates are the major source of talent and expertise in the Middle East region. This is significant for the local governments because these are long-term talent pools and more and more executives are taking a longer-term view of a career here. That is positive in a way, but it poses some challenges for the local governments, such as what about employment of locals and will [they] be able to hold on to the expat talent.
What are the motivations for the increasingly longer terms - more than five years - of expat careers here?
Salary has always been a motivation for working in the Middle East - that they would be able to save money here so that they can reduce the number of years in paid employment. It also depends on environment and real estate costs. Now that rents have come down in the UAE, for instance, the choice of residence depends on continuity of employment, security, education of children and family living conditions.
What did the survey find out about the number of Emirati executives?
Around 25 per cent of the respondents were locals and the rest were expats in the Middle East.
How do other emerging markets figure in comparison with the Arabian Gulf when it comes to expat employment and salaries?
China has a five-year plan to recruit top talents and it involves foreign senior-level executives. Brazil, India and Russia are also catching up. We have not begun to see the demand in Africa. Brazil, for instance, has the highest salary in the world. But there, security is a big concern. In India and China, it is the living conditions.
How do you forecast the trend of savings habits among expat executives?
The expats would want to save at the highest rates possible because we are living in an insecure world and the international stock market is still volatile.