If you're thinking of working in the Gulf, then these tips are for you. There is a huge amount on offer in many Gulf countries, but you are moving thousands of miles from home, and there are issues to think about and challenges that lie ahead. These are the key things you should consider.
Get a job before you come
Easier said than done, but empirical evidence suggests that your terms and conditions will be better. Plus you'll get relocation expenses.
Find out which companies you want to work for, and write a focused letter to those organisations with clearly defined reasons/ways you can be of value.
Look beyond salary
While expatriate benefits may not be as generous as they once were, they are still offered in many industries at a senior level, and don't ask, don't get. Areas of help you should ask for: medical, schooling, housing. There is a move to incorporate this into salaries, but with rents and schooling costs rocketing, a commitment to both will provide you with considerably greater security.
Get the contract
If you are offered a job, find out about the contract. Is it standard? Be clear about what is offered, and expected, and what is not.
Speak to other people in the company
Before accepting an offer, ask to be able to speak to people in similar positions to you to make sure the reality matches what you are being sold.
The first year
The first year in any new city is difficult; you'll be experiencing a new job, a new country and a new city. Don't expect to feel at home and happy immediately - rarely in life is there an immediate pay off - you'll need to put in some investment and plant roots.
Forget the word ‘should'
You'll be coming to a different country - expect things to work in ways that you don't expect, and without logic you understand. There are two ways that you can approach this: try to do things your way, and end up banging your head against the wall in frustration, and eventually leaving. Two; flow around the rock, get used it and make it work for you.
You may not see the sun
If you're expecting to come to the Middle East for sun, sand, gold and... skiing, you'll be lucky. It is a competitive environment, and if you plan to last and progress in your job, your work/life balance may not be all that you had hoped.
For many this region offers a chance to escape tax, gain a better standard of life, and to start saving. However, there is a pay off, and you cannot compare many of the region's cities with London, New York or Paris in terms of culture. In bigger cities such as Dubai, this is changing, however you won't find a Tate Modern on a South Bank, or be able to pop into MOMA on a Wednesday night for free.
Appreciate the difference
Be prepared to try new things. Not so many museums of modern art maybe, but you can go on the dunes, or take a dive in the Indian ocean.
A small thing, but not unimportant: When you first arrive you will not be able to buy alcohol in many countries. For this you will need a licence. If you are working in Dubai, you will however be able to purchase alcohol as a visitor from the airport on exit.