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The Middle East

The Middle East is a 7 hour direct flight to/from the UK and 15 hours from Australasia and the US.  The Middle East region includes: United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the UAE being the most westernised of all the Middle East countries, with modern villas, apartments, schools, sporting facilities.

The Middle East is a buoyant and fast paced market with superb career opportunities across a variety of industry sectors with some of the worlds’ leading business including both local, national and multinational organisations. The region is split into the “have oil” highly prosperous countries to those that are not endowed by natural resources and rely on support from the richer countries.

The Middle East

The region continues to increase the number of career opportunities  in the richer countries, and there are many reasons for choosing to work and live in the region which include:

  • Tax-Free remuneration packages
  • Exposure to the emerging markets
  • Opportunities with increased responsibilities and fast career progressions
  • Blue-chip international organisations
  • Great work/life balance with outdoor expat lifestyle in some locations but not all.

There are many misconceptions about the Middle East including dress code and alcohol. The locals do wear traditional attire, whereas western expats are not expected to follow (expect from Saudi Arabia), and dress code of an expat is similar to what you would wear if on holiday or at home, apart from dressing more conservatively during the holy month of Ramadan out of respect.

You can drink alcohol is most countries apart from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. You need an alcohol licence in order to buy drink for the home, which is easily obtained, and the majority of hotels and restaurants all serve alcohol too.

Cost of living is fairly reasonable and is the same as you would expect to find in any city and has reduced somewhat over the past few years. You can expect to pay in the range of $1,500 – $2,500 per month for a 1-2 bedroom apartment and $2,500 – $3,500 per month for a 3 bedroom villa in Dubai. Rent is either paid yearly, bi-annually, quarterly or sometimes monthly in advance and is usually paid by the employer as addition to salary or a housing allowance is provided.

Schooling is good quality with a good mix of international fee-paying schools, with many new schools being built for the ever-growing expat community.

In contract negotiations it is important to assume nothing and to ensure all verbal discussions are confirmed in writing.

Something you will come to understand is that things happen in the Middle East at either a frenetic pace or very slowly and this is entirely normal in the Middle East culture.