Exodus from Dubai: More than a third of British Expats in the UAE want to return home

One in three British expats living in the Gulf states intends to move back to the UK in the near future.

Is the dream over?

A RECENT survey revealed that their standard of living has dropped over the past few years and that the cost of living in Dubai has risen to a level that makes it unattractive to live there now. The research also suggested that originally, around 41 per cent of Brits in the Middle East moved to the region to improve their lifestyle, with 10 per cent doing so ‘just for an adventure.’

According to estimates by the World Bank and the Department of Census and Statistics of the United Nations, the UAE’s population reached around nine million in 2014 – with expatriates still outnumbering the Emiratis. That figure is thought to be closer to 10 million now.

Millions of foreigners across the Gulf are having to weigh whether to stay or go home as the fallout from the pandemic forces economic adjustments. The impact is starkest in Dubai whose economic model is built on the presence of foreign residents who comprise about 90 per cent of the population. One study estimates that the UAE could lose as many as 900,000 jobs over the next few years.

Around 27 per cent of Brits were attracted to the country by the tax-free salary. The HSBC Expat Explorer survey, released in January, found that nearly three-quarters of expats working in the UAE earn more than they would in their home country. According to Deutsche Bank’s Mapping the World’s Prices 2019 survey, expat workers in Dubai have an average of around €2,000 per month left to spend after they have paid their rent.

While the United Arab Emirates still ranked 11th in the world overall, this represents a year-on-year decline of 19 per cent, the survey found.


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Written by

Tony Winterburn

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