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About 20% of UAE expatriates earn more than USD$250,000 (NZD$350,000) — making the country home to some of the wealthiest expats in the world, according to Gulf News.com. 

Citing the “Expat Explorer,” the largest global survey of expats commissioned by HSBC Bank International, the report said the UAE ranked fourth just after Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. 

“If you’re in business in Dubai, you have best terms and conditions for being successful. There’s no VAT on staff, no social benefits,” the report said, quoting Steve Gregory, managing partner of Holborn Assets, a financial advisory firm. 

“So for people setting up business here there are far more chances of success and huge profits than other countries in world. Pakistani and Indian traders are among the wealthiest in Dubai,” Gregory said.

 “Funnily enough, it’s not the white expats that are the wealthiest, it’s the Asian expats,” he added. 

Expats enjoy a luxurious lifestyle in the UAE including more cars (63% in UAE vs. 29 % overall), more exotic holidays (57% vs. 46%), posher and larger properties (58% vs. 50%) and domestic help (57% vs 37%), and 94% pay lower taxes than in their country of origin. 

“Employees hired from abroad get benefits and packages that match some of the best in the world. But of course not everyone is that fortunate,” Gregory said. 

The expats surveyed work in finance, construction, manufacturing, utilities, management, and education, said Lisa Wood, head of marketing at HSBC International, in an email to Gulf News. 

“The wealthiest of all are the self-employed but packages for things like oil and gas industry are extremely strong. So is the medical industry,” noted Gregory. 

Since coming to the UAE, 87% of the expats earned more disposable incomes than in their home countries, she said. 

While 79% of expats are saving more in the UAE than at home compared to the worldwide average of 61%, about 50 % of them are spending more here. 

The ability to save has dropped since last year, when 82% of expats said they were able to save more since relocating, according to the 2009 Expat Economics Report. 

Despite the increased spending and decreased saving ability, 73% say the reason they became expats is driven by career and money prospects. 

But the last year has been economically difficult for foreigners in the UAE. Over three quarter (77%) indicated that the economic situation has deteriorated over the past year. 

A quarter of expats believe there are reduced career opportunities in the UAE. 

One in ten of those who thought the economy hadn’t improved are actively looking to return home. 

However, the majority of expats in the UAE remain optimistic with 81% saying that they have not been directly impacted and do not intend to return home. 

While the UAE has the fourth wealthiest expats, salary cuts and package trimmings post-recession are not uncommon. 

“Whilst we have the world’s wealthiest, we [also] have world’s poorest. They’re not likely to have a HSBC Bank account. Perhaps the survey is a little bit colored,” Gregory noted, but pointed out that western expats who get salaries and paid expenses can save easily from their take-home pay. 

Expatriates worldwide are repatriating their wealth, according to the survey. 

In the UAE, the majority of remittances are from expats living here alone and obliged to send money to their families at home who are dependent on these sums, said Sudhir Kumar Shetty, CEO of global operation at UAE Exchange. 

Last year, eight billion US dollars in individual remittances were sent from the UAE via the UAE Exchange alone, he estimated. 

Expats in the Middle East are the most likely to repatriate their property wealth, with very few investing in property in their host country. In Qatar, 49% of expats invest in their country of origin. 

Emerging economies have scored higher than their European counterparts as wealth hotpots when looking at economic factors including earnings, career development, improved economic outlook and the ability to save the survey showed. – Source Gulf News

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