Gulf State firms refusing to sweeten top talent expat packages
|Published:||23 May at 6 PM|
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The global war to attract fully qualified and experienced migrants to new jobs and new lives across the world is in full swing, giving top talent plenty of choice. However, recruiters in the UAE are reporting difficulty in selling their region to executive-level professionals as companies in other countries are offering better deals.
The average expat package is made up of a good salary plus benefits such as comprehensive health insurance, a housing allowance and air tickets for regular visits to employees’ home countries. Private school fees are often included if the position is high-level, as is a travel allowance.
Recent surveys have shown that companies in the Arab States would rather employ North African or Asian professionals with similar qualifications, as they are prepared to accept less generous packages and lower salaries. For the top jobs in many sectors, the talent pool is limited, with international companies chasing the same people worldwide.
The problem refers particularly to the financial service sector, with Middle East recruiters struggling to match salaries and benefits offered by major players in the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong. Potential employees, given a choice between the two Asian destinations and the Gulf States, are tending to prefer Eastern promise, even although the UK is one of the world’s most important financial hubs.
Even the tax-free status of the Middle East, once a major draw for emigrating executives, is less so nowadays, as other regions are compensating with increased benefits and bonuses thus eroding the value of a no-tax regime. The issue isn’t being helped by the soaring cost of living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with rent and schooling increases a major concern..
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I am a UK national working in the middle east (top exec level). I have not been included in my company's "insurance package"which is tied to their pension plan on the basis that I am over 65. Because of my age, I cannot take out life insurance in the country where I work to ensure the financial security of my family in case something should happen to me. The British insurance companies do not cover UK nationals living and working abroad and the expat insurance companies are only open to people under 65! the cost of housing and schooling is ridiculously expensive (although the company largely contributes to those), and air fares -if I want to see my family more than once a year- make big dents in the income. Yes, the salaries and the tax free regime are interesting, but they don't make up for the lack of insurance should something happen.