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When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Old Sep 19th 2014, 11:01 am
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Default When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

I worked in the GCC (AD) back in 2009-2011.

I am European and was working in London before the Gulf. 2008-2009 was a horrible time due to the financial crisis, and I got an offer in Abu Dhabi (I had 2 years experience at that time).

While I was living abroad (in the UK), it was the first time I was living in an "exotic" place outside Europe. I was young, money was good and the economy in the West was horrible. So first plane to the heat!

So I moved to the "Sand Pit". It was an interesting time. I made friends that I still keep. Going to the beach in November was better than London's weather. Driving or taking a taxi instead of the Central line was an upgrade. I visited all the typical surrounding countries (Asia, India, Middle East). Yet like many people, I got tired of it. it is not a place where you can establish yourself. You end up missing things like walking to a pub or even the rain. Friends come and go all the time. You life depends on a visa linked to a job. Money is just that, money. It is a completely money and status-oriented society. All is fake and facade. And I can live without a Filipino maid. In 2011 I just returned to Europe. And I never regretted it for one second.

Yesterday I got interest from someone I know to go back to the region (Qatar). It was quite weird to think about returning, but it was in my head. So last night I checked this forum which I had used 5 years ago to learn about the region, and I read about the reckless driving, the visa issues, the "you lose your job you are out of this country", problems with housing and 1-year payments...so many memories. I got something in my stomach that told me "Don't even think it for a second, you only live once and you don't want to live there".

Another interesting thing is how hard was for me returning to Europe in 2011. While I worked for a Western well-known company, I have noticed that people in both the UK and Continental Europe never take much into consideration that experience. I have the feeling that they see it as a quick way to be lazy and get a high salary at the same time... so they think that you got used to be paid a lot just for doing nothing. I must say that sometimes I feel, from a career point of view, was not the wisest decision. This is something other people agree with.

Then it got me thinking, when is the best time of your life to work in the region? And I feel there are three ways where it is worth:

- Right after graduation if you get a more senior position in well-known company. I know people who ended up in the GCC just after graduation because no one wanted to go there (not the case of the UAE today; but Saudi, Kuwait or even Qatar). It shows some commitment to your career and that you are able to lead a team, do complex stuff, etc. Still it is hard to return to civilization I think.

- Being a freelance in an untapped market. I know a few people (Westerners) that started their own business there. While UAE is already quite mature market, there are still some opportunities that in the West are already covered. Some of them are getting really wealthy, they don't have bosses (not sure how the sponsorship works for them) and more or less travel as they please.

- Later in your career. I think most people here are "young" (20s, 30s, 40s) but the reality is that today the West is terribly "ageist". I have known many people in Abu Dhabi that were fired in Europe or the US and at 50 or 55 nobody will hire you. I wonder if this is cultural as well, since Arab cultures are very respectful of older and "wise" people. But for some of those guys, Abu Dhabi or the GCC allowed them to get a job that otherwise wouldn't have got back in the EU/UK/US and make some savings for retirement or pay college for the kids. They also don't have kids in school so it is better for companies (no school allowances). However I wonder if now that the job market in the ME (at least Dubai) is becoming more like the West, this is changing and they would rather employ "cheap" young Western labour.

Then you have all this people (I reckon the majority of this forum) that are somewhere between the late 20s and the 40s. They enter in the spiral of expatriation: high salaries and chaotic working environment. Then returning to a civilized country with lower salaries/more taxes and a structured competitive work environment is hard for them and companies are particularly aware against hiring them.

What do you think? I am curious to hear about your point of view.
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Old Sep 20th 2014, 2:34 pm
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

NEVER ? Winners do not come to work in this region. What brings people here is some crisis or failure, either personal or economic. Becoming a migrant worker is not usually the route to success. That applies whether you are a Filipina maid or an employee of a multi-national.
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Old Sep 20th 2014, 3:07 pm
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

It depends and we all have our own reasons to work here; money is certainly not the only motive. I think the appropriate age range should be around 25 - 55.
<20 yo - Without life/work experiences and a degree; this region is not that safe for young adults
20 -25 yo - With or without a degree, the persons have to gain some work experiences; all expats should acquire basic knowledge and skills at home beforehand.
25 - 55 yo - Ready to explore ME with (or without) a family
56 - 60 yo - Senior enough and prepare to enjoy retirement back home
61 - 70 yo - Few expats still prefer to stay on due to financial or personal preference.
> 70 yo - Go home and get prepared to say goodbye to the world
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Old Sep 21st 2014, 11:04 am
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Thanks for the replies!

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
NEVER ? Winners do not come to work in this region. What brings people here is some crisis or failure, either personal or economic. Becoming a migrant worker is not usually the route to success. That applies whether you are a Filipina maid or an employee of a multi-national.
Do you work in the GCC then?

Originally Posted by wwinit View Post
It depends and we all have our own reasons to work here; money is certainly not the only motive. I think the appropriate age range should be around 25 - 55.
<20 yo - Without life/work experiences and a degree; this region is not that safe for young adults
20 -25 yo - With or without a degree, the persons have to gain some work experiences; all expats should acquire basic knowledge and skills at home beforehand.
25 - 55 yo - Ready to explore ME with (or without) a family
56 - 60 yo - Senior enough and prepare to enjoy retirement back home
61 - 70 yo - Few expats still prefer to stay on due to financial or personal preference.
> 70 yo - Go home and get prepared to say goodbye to the world
Interesting points. But I think that between 25-55, returning back to the "West"... it is complicated. I have known many people around that age in the GCC that afterwards just left for other regions (Asia, South America, Africa, Australia...). And I suspect money it is not the only motive, but also the "inability" to get used back to "Western lifestyle", customs and working manners.
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Old Sep 21st 2014, 11:52 am
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
NEVER ? Winners do not come to work in this region. What brings people here is some crisis or failure, either personal or economic. Becoming a migrant worker is not usually the route to success. That applies whether you are a Filipina maid or an employee of a multi-national.
Are you terminally bitter?

This region has seen huge growth for the multi-national that I work for. We've actually taken some of the best people from across our offices in Europe due to the growth and potential.
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Old Sep 21st 2014, 12:39 pm
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
NEVER ? Winners do not come to work in this region. What brings people here is some crisis or failure, either personal or economic. Becoming a migrant worker is not usually the route to success. That applies whether you are a Filipina maid or an employee of a multi-national.


misery, money and martyrdom - three M's that define the middle east expat
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Old Sep 21st 2014, 12:45 pm
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Originally Posted by NewCaledonia View Post
And I suspect money it is not the only motive, but also the "inability" to get used back to "Western lifestyle", customs and working manners.
Or arguably, a lack of desire to go back to cold grey countries with stagnant economic growth and where the highlight of the week is the X-factor final.

I was in the UK this summer for a long period of time and truly loved it, but many things bothered me - the structure, the dullness, the TV-culture, the food. Expat life is far from perfect, but nor is real-life. You take your choices and play the hand you have.
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Old Sep 22nd 2014, 10:18 am
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Terminally bitter ? Not really. I spent 17 years in the Middle East, mainly in KSA. In my senility, as I write my memoirs, I look back and reflect on how things worked out for me.

I reiterate - Winners do not go to the Gulf. I did have a lot of experiences that would not have come my way if I had stayed in Kirkcaldy !
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Old Sep 22nd 2014, 10:48 am
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post

I reiterate - Winners do not go to the Gulf.
How do you come to this conclusion?

I suppose that if I'd spent most of my 17 years out here in KSA I'd be angry with life, something that you seem to be.
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Old Sep 22nd 2014, 11:18 am
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Originally Posted by NorthernLad View Post
How do you come to this conclusion?

I suppose that if I'd spent most of my 17 years out here in KSA I'd be angry with life, something that you seem to be.
I would say that 'winners' wouldn't need to emigrate at all. (We did, to the USA, but were just running to stand still )
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Old Sep 22nd 2014, 11:30 am
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Originally Posted by Sally Redux View Post
I would say that 'winners' wouldn't need to emigrate at all. (We did, to the USA, but were just running to stand still )
Each to their own...but we lived and worked in UK for seven years and that was enough.

Sometimes it seems that we are in the minority, but we like living out here. As for business, Dubai is the major office for us covering Africa and the Middle East, with huge growth at a time when business is tough in Europe.
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Old Sep 22nd 2014, 11:34 am
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

So many replies.

Originally Posted by Sally Redux View Post
I would say that 'winners' wouldn't need to emigrate at all. (We did, to the USA, but were just running to stand still )
I guess that depends. If you are from Kirkcaldy, Scotland, and you wanna create the next Facebook, you are better off in Palo Alto, CA. Ain't it?

However, I believe Scot47 has a point. The Middle East is not an innovative place; if only for the "culture" (or lack of).

What "NorthernLad" says is certainly not my experience while working there. Many companies in "traditional" industries (management consulting, finance) think of their Dubai offices as a 2nd-tier back water compared not only to New York, London or Paris, but even to Hong Kong or Singapore. Clients and projects are not sophisticated; they just have tons of money and fancy nice names.

Maybe he works in infrastructure or construction and I reckon the UAE, Qatar or Saudi when compared to Europe or the US need at this stage more qualified people, but that is quite circumstantial.

Even the more sophisticated companies that are local to Qatar or UAE (investment, real estate, airlines) in general have quite messy standards.

The weather as other have mentioned it is not an excuse. You have cities in developed countries with way pleasant weather than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Not to talk about the environment. Think of Miami, Sydney, Singapore, Marbella, Cote d'Azur... that is where wealthy people retire and buy houses... not in Dubai.
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Old Sep 22nd 2014, 11:56 am
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Originally Posted by NewCaledonia View Post
What "NorthernLad" says is certainly not my experience while working there. Many companies in "traditional" industries (management consulting, finance) think of their Dubai offices as a 2nd-tier back water compared not only to New York, London or Paris, but even to Hong Kong or Singapore. Clients and projects are not sophisticated; they just have tons of money and fancy nice names.

Maybe he works in infrastructure or construction and I reckon the UAE, Qatar or Saudi when compared to Europe or the US need at this stage more qualified people, but that is quite circumstantial.

Even the more sophisticated companies that are local to Qatar or UAE (investment, real estate, airlines) in general have quite messy standards.

The weather as other have mentioned it is not an excuse. You have cities in developed countries with way pleasant weather than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Not to talk about the environment. Think of Miami, Sydney, Singapore, Marbella, Cote d'Azur... that is where wealthy people retire and buy houses... not in Dubai.
I came out here in 2003 as a transfer within a large American IT company, and the investment they have and still are making in this region is considerable. It's not Europe or the US - it's still in it's infancy compared to those places. But then recent visits back to the UK don't have me feeling the urge to rush back. Depressing is the best way I could describe it.

It has been very challenging, that's why I've stayed on. We've built up a big footprint here and still growing.

Will I retire here? Probably not. But then again, Miami, Sydney, Singapore, and Marbella aren't that appealing either (Singapore and pleasant weather )
This place is what you make of it - we've got a very good group of friends (most have been here 5+ years) which also helps.
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Old Sep 22nd 2014, 2:37 pm
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Originally Posted by NorthernLad View Post
Each to their own...but we lived and worked in UK for seven years and that was enough.

Sometimes it seems that we are in the minority, but we like living out here. As for business, Dubai is the major office for us covering Africa and the Middle East, with huge growth at a time when business is tough in Europe.
That's great, don't get me wrong.

An interesting topic to mull over and hear what others have done.
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Old Sep 22nd 2014, 2:40 pm
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Default Re: When is the best time of your life to work in the GCC?

Originally Posted by NorthernLad View Post

Will I retire here? Probably not. But then again, Miami, Sydney, Singapore, and Marbella aren't that appealing either (Singapore and pleasant weather )
All far too hot for me.
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