Expat professionals now shunning the Gulf States due to instability

Published:  9 Jan at 6 PM
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Expat professionals and their companies are now leaving their lucrative Gulf State jobs due to political problems.

Leading international companies, their expat employees and formerly enthusiastic investors are now either shunning or leaving the Gulf States due to the political shenanigans culminating in the murder of Jamal Kashoggi. As a result, one of the planet’s most promising regions is now a no-go as regards expatriate talent. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the two major engines of development in the region, are both tightening their belts and cutting back on promised expansion, with growth now as low as 0.5 in 2017. Even worse news is expected when the 2018 figures are released.

In both the kingdom and the emirates, salaries are falling, corporate and retail profits have tanked, property prices have slumped and tourism is now a no-no for even slightly aware travellers. According to one former employment consultant, people are simply deserting the two sinking ships as it’s now too expensive to live in either, especially for expats with families. Government debts are soaring, with the UAE’s 15 per cent of GDP now hitting 20 per cent and Saudi’s previous 1.5 per cent now an astonishing 17 per cent. Taxes have now been slashed as a result, and the Gulf’s ultra-wealthy nationals are moving their cash overseas.

In Saudi, development of MBS’s much-vaunted super-city of Neom has ground to a halt, with the prince’s Vision 2030 programme looking as though it should be renamed Vision 3020. It’s no fault of the Saudis that oil prices have fallen again, nor is it their fault that business ties between the Kingdom and Iran are fragile due to the US’s Iran sanctions. However, the Kingdom’s recent, glaring mis-steps have wrecked the region’s glittering image as a secure, safe location both for investment and for top expat professional career enhancement.

One major mistake was the siege of Qatar, seen as a serious confidence-breaker by multinationals and their top talent. The prince’s recent stripping of Arab family wealth and assets was another own-goal, as top Arab families across the entire region are now re-planning their financial and investment strategies in favour of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Top-talent expatriates are noting a hardening of attitudes towards foreigners and are looking elsewhere for relocation, as are lesser members of the expat community.
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