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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

The UAE Offers a High Quality of Life & Lots of Career Opportunities

Expats enjoy the high quality of life and job opportunities in the UAE, but they often need to stretch their finances.

The UAE comes 11th out of 53 destinations in the Expat Insider 2023 survey. It even makes it into the top 5 of three indices: Expat Essentials (2nd), Working Abroad (4th), and Quality of Life (4th). According to expats, it has the best infrastructure for cars, the government strongly supports policies to protect the environment, its local business culture very much encourages creativity, and it is the easiest destination to get a visa for — the UAE ranks 1st for all these factors. While it still lands in a good 22nd place in the Ease of Settling In Index, it only comes 41st in the Personal Finance Index. Overall, 68% of expats are happy with their life in the UAE, which is below the global average of 72%, though.

Easy to Manage the Essentials

The UAE ranks 2nd in the Expat Essentials Index, only beaten by Bahrain (1st). Aside from the fact that it is easy to live in the UAE without speaking the local language (2nd), expats are very happy with Admin Topics (4th). Four in five (80%) found it easy to get a visa when moving there (vs. 57% globally), and 64% have no problem dealing with the local bureaucracy, compared to 39% globally.

In the Digital Life Subcategory (19th), expats are happy with the online availability of government services (84% vs. 60% globally). They also find it easy to get high-speed internet access at home (87% happy vs. 80% globally). But the country ranks among the bottom 5 worldwide for its restricted access to online services, such as social media (48th).

A Vibrant Expat Life

When it comes to the Quality of Life Index (4th), the UAE does best in the Leisure Options Subcategory (6th). Expats enjoy the culinary variety and dining options (84% happy vs. 77% globally), as well as the culture and nightlife (76% vs. 68% globally). The country ranks 5th for both these factors but only 22nd for the opportunities for recreational sports.

It is also easy to get to the restaurants, bars, and more. While expats’ satisfaction with the availability of public transportation is just slightly above average (76% happy vs. 73% globally), the infrastructure for cars comes in 1st place worldwide. More than nine in ten expats (93%) are pleased with this factor, compared to 75% globally. And good news for those who like to explore outside the UAE: 70% could not be happier with the travel options (vs. 56% globally).

Safe & Healthy in the UAE

The UAE makes it into the top 10 of both the Safety & Security (9th) and Healthcare (10th) Subcategories. Expats rate the political stability (86% happy vs. 63% globally) and their personal safety (93% vs. 83% globally) very positively.

“It's safe to walk alone here, no matter what time of day or night.’”– Philippine expat

Additionally, they are happy with the availability (81% vs. 71% globally) and quality (81% vs. 70% globally) of medical care. Close to three-quarters (74%) find it easy to access all kinds of healthcare services they need, compared to 65% globally.

A Working Life Full of Opportunities

The Working Abroad Index (4th) is another area where the UAE performs very well, particularly in the Career Prospects Subcategory (2nd). Only the USA (1st) does better here. Expats in the UAE are happy with their personal career opportunities (64% vs. 57% globally). Another 77% say that moving there has improved their career prospects (vs. 59% globally).

The country also ranks well in the Work Culture & Satisfaction Subcategory (6th), even coming 1st worldwide for thinking outside of the box. Close to three-quarters (73%) agree that the local business culture encourages creativity (vs. 51% globally) — 43% even say it does so very much, compared to 18% globally. And the business culture also promotes independent work and flat hierarchies (62% happy vs. 46% globally).

Poor Work-Life Balance & Low Salaries

On the downside, the UAE does not do so well in the Work & Leisure Subcategory (34th). Just 57% of expats rate their work-life balance positively, which is below the global average of 63%. And only 55% feel paid fairly for their work, based on their industry, qualifications, and role (vs. 62% globally). In fact, half the expats in the UAE have a gross yearly income of less than 25,000 USD, compared to 33% globally.

This might also explain the country’s low ranking in the Personal Finance Index (41st). A quarter of respondents (25%) are unhappy with their financial situation (vs. 22% globally). In fact, 36% say that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life in the UAE, compared to 27% globally.

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