x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Spanish expat returns for an irresistible offer

Mariano arrived in Dubai to open Spanish restaurant Seville's in 2000, but left in 2005.

Mariano Andres, from Spain, loves working for Wafi in Dubai and has no plans to leave again.
Mariano Andres, from Spain, loves working for Wafi in Dubai and has no plans to leave again.

When Mariano Andres came to Dubai in 2000 to open Seville's restaurant in Wafi Pyramids, he enjoyed it so much he never thought he'd leave.

But with a young daughter back home in Spain, he felt the pull of family and decided to quit his job and move back to Barcelona.

Mr Andres, who left Dubai in March 2005 after five "really good years", said he never wanted to leave the Emirates.

And finding work in Europe before the financial crisis took hold was not hard.

"I'm very lucky because I never had problems finding a job," he said.

According to a report last year by Spain's National Statistics Institute, more than 500,000 people are expected to emigrate from Spain each year until 2020, fleeing from the country's employment crisis. The national jobless rate for July was 24.6 per cent.

Mr Andres spent five years working in his home country, as well as a spell in the Seychelles. He worked for restaurants and hotel chains, including opening the tallest hotel in Spain, the Gran Hotel Bali in Alicante.

But in late 2010 he received an offer he could not refuse. Wafi wanted him back.

His daughter was now old enough to travel on her own to visit, so in January last year, a little over 10 years since he had first opened Seville's, he returned to the UAE.

"I only took the job because of the company. I love Dubai, but only if I could work for Wafi," he said.

He enjoys living in the UAE because of the cultural and historical links between Spaniards and Arabs.

"We have many things in common, so for us it's not as difficult as other people might think, living in an Arab country," he said.

Mr Andres is now general manager for Wafi's food and beverage division. He has no plan to leave.