UAE slips in rankings for preferred expat destinations

The UAE has slipped down the list of most preferred living destinations for expatriates, as economic concerns because of slower economic growth weigh on residents.

The UAE fell to 12th position in HSBC’s annual Expat Explorer survey for 2016, down from ninth position in 2015. The country is the second most popular expatriate destination in the Middle East behind Bahrain, which fell to ninth position from fourth last year.

The survey of 27,000 expatriates including 3,000 in the UAE identified Singapore and New Zealand as the top two expatriate destinations for the second year in a row. Canada rose three places to come in third position.

The HSBC survey found that the number of UAE-based respondents expressing confidence in the local economy fell to 57 per cent from 61 per cent in 2015, as lower oil prices act as a brake on the country’s economy.

However, HSBC noted that the 57 per cent figure for 2016 is the highest in the Middle East, and also comes in ahead of the global average of 52 per cent.

And while 61 per cent of UAE-based expats said that their quality of life has improved since moving to the country, 88 per cent reported that it is more expensive to raise a child in the UAE than in their home country, with 91 per cent reporting an increase in education costs.

The UAE continues to be regarded as a politically stable destination for expatriates; 78 per cent of respondents said the country is more politically stable than their home countries, coming in way ahead of the average of 51 per cent for the 45 destinations included in the survey.

The country also comes in ahead of the global average as a destination for starting a business and achieving advancement in a career.

Two-thirds of UAE-based respondents said they earned more in comparison to their home countries, reporting salaries about 14 per cent higher than the global average.

“It’s no surprise that the UAE continues to be ranked highly for the financial opportunities it provides expats from around the world, as this has been a consistent trend in the past few years of the survey,” said Kunal Malani, head of customer value management at HSBC Middle East.

“Whether it’s the higher earning potential and tax-free income or the world-class infrastructure available for entrepreneurs, the country has steadily been growing as a beacon for career-driven expatriates.”

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