“I am happy to have a job but it’s expensive to live here and I don’t manage to send much home to my family,” she says. “It’s also not an option for me to go back home,” she adds, citing low wages and other economic and social challenges.
Greaves says that even though wages are going down, he believes salaries are still higher than in workers’ usual home markets like the UK, Europe, Australia and the US, and crucially they are tax-free.
“It’s still an attractive place to work, even if companies are not paying inflated packages,” he says. “We are still receiving thousands of CVs, so the lure is still there for sure.”
This is not the first time the UAE’s economy has wobbled. In 2009, Dubai was among the highest-profile victims of the global financial crisis. The previously booming market went bust, seemingly overnight, before rebuilding and correcting previous excesses with tighter legislation.
In response to this latest economic softening, the government has unveiled a number of stimulus measures worth in excess of US$13 billion. New policies include: opening up certain business sectors to 100% foreign ownership; a more flexible visa regime; and cuts to business registration fees and other administrative costs.
These steps should make it a more attractive place to do business and help companies maintain – or even expand – headcount. Nonetheless, the job market is expected to remain incredibility competitive.
“You need to do your homework before you take a job out here,” says Gill. “It’s an expensive place and we know people who’ve come out planning to save but have found themselves eating into their savings just to cover their expenses.”
Back in the UK, Simmonds is grateful for her time in the UAE, but is quick to warn others not to risk too much for a job there. “I would not advise anyone to go out to look for work without a significant financial cushion because you will get into debt very quickly.”
“The days of Dubai’s roads being paved with gold was over by the time I arrived in 2016, but now I would say that gold is well and truly over the horizon and out of sight.”
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