By Andy Sambidge
Arabian Business poll results suggest high cost of living outweighs tax-free wages.
The tax-free working environment of the Gulf region is no longer the big draw for expatriates that it used to be, according to the results of an Arabian Business poll.
Readers responded in their hundreds after we asked expats currently living in the GCC whether they would still recommend the region to their friends and family as an place to live and work.
More than 80 percent of the UAE workforce comes from abroad and many of the key industries across the Gulf rely on attracting the skills of people from overseas.
But factors such as soaring rental costs, especially within the UAE, seem to be making people think twice about making the region their new home.
According to our poll, more than 40 percent of respondents would urged their friends and family to stay away while another 32 percent would only recommend the Gulf if they person proposing to come was earning a big salary.
The results come as expats living in the UAE are hit by restrictions on credit facilities, problems with ID cards and a crackdown on sharing rental accommodation.
A recent report by Asteco highlighted that rental rates in Abu Dhabi soared by up to 157 percent in the third quarter of 2008 compared to the same period last year as a lack of supply and ever increasing demand drove prices higher.
In our poll, 41 percent of people who voted said the cost of living in the Gulf now outweighs the advantages of tax-free living and they would not recommend the region to friends and family.
A further 32 percent said that employees needed to earn top salaries to make the move a beneficial one.
But not everyone had such a negative view of the region and 27 percent said they would still recommend people coming to the region.
Of those, 18 percent said that while it was no longer a place to "get rich quick", it still offered better opportunities than countries such as the US and UK.
A further nine percent said they would have no hesitation in recommending the move, citing all-year sunshine and tax-free salaries as the two big reasons to come to the Gulf.