x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Money and lifestyle attract expatriates

Employment was the primary motivation for expatriates to move to the UAE, according to a survey of expatriates worldwide.

The UAE ranks ahead of Britain, China, India and Qatar in an annual quality-of-life survey of expatriates around the world, but is still placed only 18th of the 26 countries studied. The Expatriate Experience Survey 2009 is part of a larger study on quality of life and integration in local society conducted by HSBC Bank International. The bank interviewed more than 3,100 expatriates from more than 50 countries who are now living in 26 nations abroad.

Employment was the primary motivation for expatriates to move to the UAE and the Middle East in general, with one third of the region's expatriates reporting a better financial situation than in their home countries. Most said the quality of life was better than in their country of origin, particularly in terms of accommodation and transport. While the UAE ranked in the top 10 as a place where expatriates could make friends, the nation appeared with Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the bottom three in terms of the likelihood of making friends with the local population.

Only 39 per cent of expatriates in the UAE reported making friends with locals, as opposed to an averageod 76 per cent in other countries. The country ranked 23 out of 26 in the number of expatriates who joined local community groups. Dr Rima Sabban, a sociologist at Zayed University, suggested that one factor behind the numbers could be the minority status of Emiratis compared with an 80 per cent expatriate population. While Emiratis were known to be friendly, the culture retreated into tight social circles. If a person had a large family, he tended to protect a small area of privacy, she said.

Slightly more than half of the UAE expatriates surveyed said it was difficult to find accommodation, much higher than the global average of 29 per cent. The UAE was also found to be the hardest place to arrange for utility services, with 60 per cent of expatriates reporting difficulties. Financially, expatriates in the UAE were doing well. They were almost twice as likely to own more than one car and more than 60 per cent employed staff, compared with a worldwide average of 48 per cent.

The main reasons expatriates stayed in the UAE were the length of contract and good career prospects, followed by the country offering a better environment to raise children, and lower crime. Canada was found to be the best place for expatriates to live, while Qatar ranked last. kshaheen@thenational.ae