• 87% of placements
    were relocated from 19 countries

  • 230+ hires since launching
    Aspexx in 2021

  • 98% retention rate
    across all clients

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London
00:00

Amsterdam
00:00

Riyadh
00:00

Dubai
00:00

Singapore
00:00

87% of placements
were relocated from 19 countries

230+ hires since launching
Aspexx in 2021

98% retention rate
across all clients

Dubai has gotten a lot of screen time lately. We’ve had Dubai Bling, The Real Housewives of Dubai, and, wait for it, Inside Dubai: Playground of The Super Rich. If you made it through any of these shows without your jaw hitting the floor or giving yourself a migraine from frequent eye rolling, then give yourself a massive pat on the back.

It’s not that these shows are necessarily bad… they just don’t accurately reflect what life is ACTUALLY like in Dubai. They focus on such a small segment of the population, when in reality you have people from all walks of life, different cultures from across the world, living and working together in this vast cultural melting pot.

There’s a lot of half-truths and myths out there so we thought we’d chip in our two cents to try and set the record straight, sharing our own experiences, knowledge and insights along the way. So, this is your guide to The Real Dubai: The Pete & Jack edition.

Let’s start off with the current expat population in the UAE. 89% are expats, with the remaining 11% made up of Emiratis or UAE Nationals. Let that sink in for a moment, because it’s a huge point of difference to living anywhere else. Collectively, expats have the opportunity to really reshape what Dubai looks like and how it functions, evolving in real time as trends develop and things shift. Honestly, we can say hand on heart that there is nowhere like it in the world.

If You Can Dream It…

Dubai is known for being a city of innovation. The government leads by example with incredible projects, targets and goals to keep the Emirate ahead of the rest of the world. Dubai ranks globally in almost every sector to attract expats, with the quality of life and ease of settling abroad scoring highly.

If you look at how the UAE has evolved in the last 50 years, it’s so impressive. The ambition of the country is contagious; everyone wants to come here and be the best version of themselves that they can be.

The mindset is very different too. You tend to find people are willing to work hard, seize every chance and network without it feeling like a grind. The warm weather helps too of course, but ultimately, expats have a lot more confidence in themselves when the infrastructure is in place to help them succeed.


Help Thy Neighbor & All That… 

There is a community feel, which is something you experience even before you arrive. Truly, from the expat groups online to speaking with recruiters, you will find everyone is willing to share knowledge and advice to help make the transition as smooth as possible. The UAE has also been ranked as the second safest country in the world by the World Economic Forum, which is certainly a big factor when it comes to considering a move.

With so many nationalities living, working and socializing together, you will make friends just about anywhere. Now when you’re used to avoiding eye contact on the tube each day, this may take some getting used to, but you tend to find people are generally in a better mood (blame the sunshine) and therefore willing to take a chance acknowledging a total stranger.

If you can get over that feeling and chat with the best of them, you’ll find yourself invited to a brunch, connecting with a new client thanks to a chance conversation over golf or even chilling in someone’s back garden purely because you let them go ahead of you in line. Seriously. Our advice is ‘be open to being open’ – you will be surprised how far it gets you.


Accessibility = Mobility 

What’s so great about the UAE, and Dubai in particular, is that it is never static. Everything is very fluid here, allowing for big changes to be made in days and months, rather than years and decades. It is a very forward-thinking place to relocate, as the government continues to ease the red tape needed for expats to live and work here for the long-term.

In October 2022, the biggest shake-up to the country’s immigration policy came into effect, allowing longer visit visas for tourists (from 30 to 90 days) , long-term residency for professionals working in particular sectors and an easier process to apply for the 10-Year Golden Visa. Here’s a quick overview of the types of visas available right now:

Green visas: For skilled workers, the self-employed and freelancers, green visas give the holder five years’ residency. There is a list of criteria to meet before you can apply for this – i.e. a minimum income and a bachelor’s degree in certain fields – but this is also appealing for those who also want to sponsor relatives, as with this change it can be done for five years, when previously the limit was capped at two.

Jobseeker: Aimed at young talent and skilled professionals, if you are looking for new opportunities abroad, then the jobseeker and five-year multi entry visas could be the best options to look into. Graduates in particular, may favor this over the other visa routes available.

Golden visasReserved mainly for investors, entrepreneurs and highly skilled professionals, golden visas are awarded to those that the government feel will contribute the most to the economy for the long-term.

Ultimately, with all of these changes, the government hopes to attract more highly skilled people to live in the Emirates and build a bigger “knowledge economy”. If you look at how quickly the country bounced back from the pandemic, it’s smart to build on this momentum now and attract  those in the field of data, science and technology.


Let’s Talk about the Circular Economy… 

Sustainability, not to be confused with legacy (If you watched the BBC’s send up of the Olympics deliverance committee, you’ll enjoy that throwback) is a word that’s bandied about a lot, but the follow through is usually found lacking. We’ve talked already about the country’s limitless ambition, which isn’t just about creating impressive architecture; everything has a purpose and meaning too.

Take the Museum of the Future as a prime example. It’s one of the world’s most complex structures, with the exterior façade of the building showcasing an Arabic poem by Dubai’s ruler about the emirate’s future. The architects developed new parametric design and Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools to grow the internal steel structure, resulting in over 1000 unique 3D shapes that form the Arabic script we see. And yes, it was conceptualized to achieve the highest level of ‘green rating’ by the LEED.

Most recently, and something that has really got us excited for the future possibilities in our industry, is the news that Al Quoz will become a designated creative hub by 2026. Imagine an entire district being developed to improve the community infrastructure, its public services and spaces. It’s literally mind blowing.

Every day brings something new for us to be thankful for, embrace or look forward to, which is half the battle isn’t it when you live away from family and friends? The UAE continues to create a supportive ecosystem for creatives and entrepreneurs to thrive. Here’s to the next 50 years of innovation…

Thanks for reading.

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