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Monday, May 18, 2009

A Word of Advice, Part 1

Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates as a whole are very wealthy venues that are usually regarded as somewhat immune to the Global Financial Crisis. As a matter of fact, this area is relatively secure considering the fate of many other countries. But because of the interconnectivity of money and finance across the world there is some pain being felt here.


Dubai, being bereft of natural resources but fortunate in location and has a natural port, cast its lot with international trade, finance, real estate and tourism. We all know what has happened to those lately.


Abu Dhabi boasts a large percentage of the world's petroleum resources and has counted on that income for decades but the recent economic disasters in other countries have depressed demand for oil and the price per barrel dropped from $150 to $50 in a matter of months.


Two sister cities, one rich but plain and the other poor and glamorous only 40 miles apart are undergoing a "sea change" for very different reasons. It is rumored that Abu Dhabi is pouring billions into Dubai to keep it afloat and prevent a total meltdown of the banks and financial markets there. Abu Dhabi remains relatively healthy.



All of this has an effect on expat jobs in the region. You probably have read about the hundreds of abandoned cars in the Dubai airport parking lots from fired expats leaving in droves. Some of it is true and some is journalistic license. The real estate, financial and construction industries have been hurt lately to be sure due to the slowdown of outside investment capital, but there are still rare opportunities to be had.


This region will recover faster than others. I think we are seeing a temporary knee-jerk reaction with jobs and salaries declining across the board. That can go on for only so long until the brain-drain is realized, recruiting becomes more difficult and hiring begins again. There is a multitude of projects to be finished and infrastructure to be managed here and talented people will be needed to accomplish this. There is too much at stake. Expat expertise will be in demand here for decades to come.


In the meantime, things will be stagnant for 2009 and good jobs will be hard to find here in the Emirates as well as most other places. But the U.A.E. has a lot of money derived from desirable natural resources and not from taxing its citizens or residents. That makes all the difference.


In the next post I will discuss the financial mistakes that most new expats make (me included) and how to avoid them especially in these uncertain times. Employment here may seem like a good alternative to what is available in your home country, but there are some serious pitfalls to be aware of which I will cover in part 2.



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