UAE Expatriates and the Bottom Line


A white paper and documentary video for Friends Provident International, by the Economist.

November 2014 

We worked with the Economist Intelligence Unit to prepare a white paper and documentary video to look at the experiences of expatriates living and working in the UAE, where they make up around 90% of the population and 95% of the workforce. 

With 7.8 million people having made the move there must be good reason. The benign business environment is just one factor that drives economic immigration. The UAE is widely perceived to be a regional safe haven, with laws and cultural restrictions more liberal than other Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, and the country is sheltered from regional instability. Factoring in a tax-free income and the worsening economic climate in the West, it is easy to see why the foreign-born population of the UAE has risen so quickly. 

There are however some potential pitfalls. While the benefits of a tax-free income are many, there are certain costs associated with living in the UAE which may not be readily apparent to people considering the move – or indeed many people already in the UAE. In particular the rapidly increasing cost of property and education can present huge challenges for the unprepared expatriate. 

The UAE Expatriates and the Bottom Line white paper and video look closely at the cost of living in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and draw comparisons with other major cities around the world. The paper shows that there are many compelling reasons for living and working in the UAE, but also shows that expatriates should consider all the relevant factors before making the leap, and plan their finances accordingly.