The place to be?

Case Study: The Middle East

The global downturn has had a significant effect on the Middle East, and redundancies have been made here as in coutries across the globe. As we begin to emerge from the crisis, however, ex-pats are once again flocking to the GCC countries and beyond. Some, no doubt, are being persuaded by increasingly high taxes in the UK as well as stipulations on rewards and bonuses. Governments in the Middle East have so far pledged to leave salaries tax-free.

Whilst rising living costs and falling salaries in the Middle East had many workers tempararily worried, anaylsts have been keen to point out that the 10% salary drop would have seen it fall to more than 50%. Current Salary levels for MDs (incl bonus) Corporate Finance – between $400-500,000 Private Equity - $500,000 Fund Management - $275,000 – 360,000 Client relationship manager - $440-680,000 Islamic finance is a key area of growth – see our Islamic Finance page – and the race to hire talent is most fierce in this arena. Salaries are still on the rise.

Far from being purely mercenary, however, the majority of people we speak to cite experience as the major factor in their decision to relocate. The Middle East offers a unique opportunity to be part of major global developments. Fast-growing local organisations may not offer the equivalent packages of multi-national players, but they often provide rapid career development as well as priceless, specialist experience.

Each year, thousands of highly qualified people choose to become part of the large expatriate population in the Middle East. There is a wealth of information available to those thinking about taking the plunge. Having assisted in a great many relocations in the region, we have summarised some things to consider below:

Despite the slowdown, rental costs in the region are set to remain high. Nevertheless, many employers offer generous relocation packages. The UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain remain the most popular destinations, with the highest expatriate population to be found in the UAE. Major cities have excellent private schooling and healthcare facilities which again, are typically covered by the employer. Employers in the region are increasingly looking at widening their packages to include pension plans and health club memberships. Culturally, Bahrain is considered one of the most liberal Gulf states. However, attitudes are changing throughout the region. Alcohol, for example, can be purchased with a licence in all Gulf countries save Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

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