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22 June 2024

Jobs in Dubai: Disillusioned with home, expats return for a second stint in the emirate

The Address The BVLD in Downtown Dubai (SUPPLIED)

By Shuchita Kapur

They came, made a quick buck for two years, enjoyed the lifestyle and went back – hoping to settle in the workforce in their home country.

Then, we witnessed the great recession, which still hasn’t faded in many countries across the world. Those expat who’d left Dubai with a better bank balance were suddenly faced with harsh reality back home– there were fewer jobs, bigger salary cuts and limited room for career growth.

Thus, began their reverse journey to Dubai – where growth is better and prospects brighter. This may not be a trend but it is the story of many expat professionals who’d left the country a few years ago only to find themselves packing their suitcases once again for their second stint in the city.

James Samuel, an Indian with a British passport, came to the Middle Eastern city of dreams as a banker on a two-year contract. “I was doing well in the UK but grabbed a better opportunity in Dubai for a limited contact of two years. After completing the tenure, I went back only to find myself spaced out in the home market,” he said. After some dreams being squashed, he’s back in the city. He’d sold his apartment in The Greens when he moved back but now has bought a new one in Downtown. “I’m not going back in a rush this time,” he added.

The new breed of returning expats is increasing. Charles Greaves, another British national in the banking industry, is scouting hard to come back to Dubai after two years. “I’m willing to come back at the same salary. My wife and two kids loved it there and the constant cribbing has started bothering me,” he said on the condition of anonymity. He now lives in Peckham and commutes to the heart of London for work.

Headhunters in Dubai agree that the number of returning expats has gone up, especially after the recession hit many countries in the West.

“Yes, [they are coming back],” said Konstantina Sakellariou, Partner, Marketing & Operations Director at Stanton Chase.

Hasnain Qazi, Middle East Business Manager at hiring advisors Huxley Associates believes that UAE remains an attractive work destination for both new and returning expats.

“All segments of society are increasingly being lured to the UAE, including those that previously worked here. [Professionals] are drawn to buoyant economies with resilience. This is what the UAE has shown,” he told this website.

James Sayer, Director at Robert Half UAE sees many people coming to the UAE for employment but the number of those returning for a second term may not necessarily be that big.

“We continue to see strong demand from companies for expatriate talent, although more often than not, expatriates typically come for one period of time then return to their home country where they settle into the job market. There are cases where individuals are career expatriates and may move between countries for roles, although these individuals are typically in the minority,” he told this website.

For those returning to the UAE, a better salary, expat package and sunny days are what attracts them the most. “It’s not just the salary but the lifestyle. I can afford a bigger car, in fact two cars, a big villa and many things that seem so pricey back home,” said Charles Greaves. [Read Revealed: Top 5 perks that UAE employees want at the workplace]

As per bayt.com, a recruitment portal, more jobs are openings in the country with 2013 slated to be much better than last year.

“The UAE has always been a top work destination for expats, and the prospects for 2013 are brighter than ever with 66 per cent of UAE employers planning to hire during the year, as per our job index survey. For those expats currently considering a potential move to the UAE, the industries offering top salaries packages are oil, gas and petrochemicals; airline, government, civil service/banking and finance and military, defense and police,” elaborated Suhail Masri, VP of Sales at Bayt.com.

And, those planning to return are better candidates for jobs that expats with no prior experience in the country or the region. “We definitely prefer to hire people with prior experience of the region. For example, what works in Hong Kong may not be a winning strategy in Dubai,” said the HR manager of a hotel chain on the condition of anonymity.