Expats giving up on Abu Dhabi as costs rise and incomes shrink

Published:  20 Jun at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, Australia, UAE, Jobs
Once considered the star of expat relocations, static pay, cancelled bonuses and the soaring cost of living are forcing many expats to pack up and go home.

Saudization and the fallout from the dramatic fall in oil prices are just two of the reasons given for what is being referred to as a ‘mass exodus’ of expats from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Once considered the prime expat location for luxury living, rising costs and job uncertainties are taking their toll on the region’s expat communities.

MD of a major recruitment agency Trefor Murphy told local media that expats working in the oil and gas, banking and financial services sectors are threatened with having to leave due to industry instability. Many, he added, are concerned about housing and education costs and are searching for employment outside the region as a result.

The effects of the oil price fall is being felt by employers, with the result that non-existent bonuses and stagnating salaries are decreasing expat employees’ opportunities for savings, once one of the major attractions of the region for expat workers. As a result, recruitment firms are advising jobseekers to stay in their present positions as the future in the UAE is hard to predict.

A Times of Oman report noted the increasing numbers of one-way airline tickets over the last few months as construction companies cut back on new developments and lay off workers. Higher-level expat employees are being affected in addition to several thousand building workers.

The crisis has come at a bad time for expat professionals who’ve recently been more aware that savings are an important part of working in the UAE. Reasons for the change include increases in the cost of living as well as the need to have a back-up fund against possible job losses. A YouGov poll taken last year revealed that 50 per cent of expat respondents would consider leaving the region should the cost of living continue to increase.
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