Expat children in Middle East face integration challenges and expensive education

Published:  8 Apr at 6 PM
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All Middle Eastern destinations include the United Arab Emirates present a challenging environment for children of expat workers in the region.

According to a recent expat survey, the entire region scores poorly as a place to raise expat kids, as well as having some of the most expensive international schools on the planet. One of the most difficult challenges faced by expat children is that of integration with the local young peoples’ social scene, with 34 per cent of parents surveyed saying their children were having problems in this field.

As a result of finding no new friends, most children in expat families stay indoors and either watch TV or play video games to a greater extent than in their home countries. The UAE, Kuwait and Suadi Arabia are all at the bottom of the list as regards raising children overseas, with Saudi Arabia’s percentage of stay-at-home youngsters whose only means of enjoyment is watching TV at a 63 per cent.

Although the UAE’s percentage is lower at 45 per cent and 48 per cent for TV and video games respectively, it’s still bad news for parents whose choice it was to emigrate.The survey also noted that a lack of social integration in their new country is resulting in children missing their home country and friends more than would be regarded as normal.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are worst for this trend, with children in the UAE states slightly less affected, and a major challenge for expat parents is the ever-increasing cost of childcare and education at international schools. As a result, many expats will only take short assignments in the Middle East, preferring to wait until an assignment or job in a more expat family-friendly country comes along.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Helen McClure wrote 6 years ago:

As an expat who has lived in Kuwait as a child and currently lives in the UAE as a mother of young children, I'm not sure I entirely agree, although this does raise interesting points. Expat life in Dubai especially is fantastic for young children. Their social calendar is so busy I find it hard to keep up. The hot weather does mean than life happens indoors during the summer months, but it's a matter of being resourceful. If you want to be sociable, life is what you make it. Schools, however, are extremely expensive. While primary education is fantastic here, and the standards are high, we will plan to move for secondary education, but I believe this to be the pattern for most expat lives.

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