No good news as Dubai expats prepare for the worst

Published:  25 Jul at 6 PM
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With the expats’ promised land now failing to deliver, many long-term expat residents in Dubai are mulling over a return to their home countries.

Although economic forecasts suggest the desert-based mega-city is better placed to weather the storm than its neighbouring emirates, the combination of the oil price crisis and the downturn in construction is hitting hard on expats as well as local businesses.
Major foreign-owned companies linked to the oil industry are cutting jobs as clients scale back on projects, with removal firms seeing an increase in the number of expat departures.

Dubai’s luxury malls are experiencing a slowdown in sales, apartment rents are dropping at the fastest rate since 2014 and the huge, upmarket properties formerly favoured by top-of-the-line expat executives are either sitting empty or taking forever to lease. Even flagship carrier Emirates is feeling the cold winds of slowdown, with fares being slashed due to fewer oil industry bookings.

The tourism industry is also in decline and is bracing itself for further falls in visitor numbers due to the EU crisis brought on by Brexit and recent terrorist attacks. Russian tourists have bypassed Dubai since the rouble fell, and Chinese visitor numbers collapsed by 13 per cent in 2016’s first quarter. UK tourists accounted for eight per cent of the total and aren’t expected to return any time soon.

Expats determined to stay are seeking for ways to cut their expenditure, with parents now switching their kids from the top British curriculum international schools to cheaper options. Many American-run real estate businesses are feeling the pinch due to a decrease in clients and a lack of assignments as real estate projects continue to be cancelled or delayed. Property investors from overseas affected by fluctuating exchange rates are seeking more predictable havens for their cash.
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