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Tue 17 Jan 2012 04:56 PM

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Expats square up over Forbes UAE snub

Residents face off after Gulf state branded least-friendly for expat workers

Expats square up over Forbes UAE snub
The historic Al Bastakiya district in Dubai

Expats in the UAE have come to
blows over the Gulf state’s ranking as the least-friendly
nation for expat workers, engaging in an online battle during discussions about
the report’s viability.

Readers of Arabian
Business are split in their views, with a flurry of foreign residents defending
the ranking by business magazine Forbes against those who have dubbed it

believe this article to be on the mark,” said one expat from Canada.

“I would say that Forbes is spot on,” said another. “In
South Africa if you spend more than two months in the country you are viewed as
a local. In  the Middle East where you spend 20 years, you are still an expat.”

A third said: “Clearly everyone commenting on the falseness
of this article has never lived in the top three ranked countries.”

The UAE was ranked the least friendly country in the world
for expatriates by Forbes magazine based on data from HSBC’s Expat Explorer
Survey, which polled 3,385 expats in 100 countries on factors such as economy,
raising children and overall experience.

The business title stripped out data in four categories –
ability to befriend locals, success in learning the language, integration into
the community and ease of fitting into the local culture – to rank the world’s
top spots for migrant workers.

The UAE, where an estimated 83.5 percent of the population
is made up by expats, Hong Kong and Singapore did not fare well in community
integration and befriending locals but performed well in those relating to
career prospects and high income, Forbes said.

New Zealand was named the world’s friendliest country for
expatriates, scoring highly across all four categories. Some 75 percent of
expats polled said they fitted well into the local culture, compared with 77
percent in Australia and 79 percent in South Africa.

The report has triggered a social media backlash from both local and foreign residents, who took to Twitter to voice
their disappointment at the result, using the tag #UAEFriendly.

“I have travelled the world and the UAE
is maybe the most tolerant place I have settled in. Forbes, rethink your list,” said @giorgiotedx.

The ranking was “grossly
misleading,” said @Loulouay.

The Gulf state, like much of the region, heavily
depends on foreign workers to fill jobs at all levels of the economy. Expats
hold top roles in sectors such as airlines and financial services, with the
majority of low-skilled positions taken up by migrant workers.

Dubai, the UAE’s trade and tourism hub, also fared badly in
a poll of British tourists last year aimed at identifying the world’s riskiest
holiday spots.

Holidaymakers ranked Dubai alongside Mexico, South Africa and
as the countries they felt the least safe in, the poll by UK travel
agency found.

The Gulf emirate welcomes an estimated one million British
visitors each year.

Mohammed Musthafa 7 years ago

I am 31years old and I have lived in Dubai for all those 31years. My father came here form India more than 40 years ago. This means I am an Indian EXPAT settled in Dubai. I don't want to be a UAE citizen. Yes most countries in the gulf does not accept expats as their own even after many years,unlike many western countries. But so what ? They hav not promised u one thing but giving u another. This country has given me much more than my own country. And yes...things are not all that great...but nor it is anywhere. Forbes say UAE is least friendly to expats...they should pay us a vist sometime...seriously.

JohnA 7 years ago

Of course those countries are going to rank higher using the categories they've chosen. The white male, with a white collar job is going to fit in much easier in a country like Canada and Australia where the culture is mostly Western and there is no language to learn.

Change the categories on which you are ranking and different countries will place differently, I dont see how that is difficult to understand.

Red Snappa 7 years ago

To be honest prior to the invasion of Iraq, the property and financial services boom, it was a different story, because Dubai, had a much better balance of expatriates and it had just set up Tecom and encouraging expatriate SME's to set up businesses.

After that, the floodgates opened and the numbers were overwhelming, more criminal elements were arriving on the back of the influx and above all thousands of expats lost money on undelivered property investments with no chance of recovery, in what now is perceived by foreigners to be a very one-sided system.

It is sadly all about money rather than sociology on both sides of the divide.

A Maitey 7 years ago

There is nothing wrong as per the set criterion and as published. UAE is not unique as all gulf countries are in same ranking. only +ve side I think that UAE is better than other Gulf countries and more tolerant but no way in global standard.

I have been in UAE for last 10 years but never been invited by any local family to their home - which itself is an indicator that we are not treated well and treated as an expat.

m.sag 7 years ago

Mohd Musthafa is looking at the raiting from the monetary point of view, but i think there is more to life than just money when you spent most part of your life in a geographical lcoation.
How often have you heard here the hanckneyed phrase " if you dont like it here leave and go to your home country" ? That is the typcial response we get when raising issue that matters most to human life in modern socieity- freedom of expression, right to residency permit etc..- to name a few.
A tax free haven for exapts ? Think about the newly introudced national ID where you end up shelling out nearly DH 400 apart from the the visa stamping fee. ( incidentally my card is about to be renewed , but i never have used it for any purpose ) Think about the newly introduced tenancy registration Dh 160 for each reneweal and i have this premontion that more of such charges are in pipeline waiting to be announced in the coming months.

Parthasarathy Ramesh 7 years ago

I live in UAE since 1992 and grown with the country's economy.
My wife worked for local travel group and she loved the job as she was able to use her expressive communicative skills to her best and was acknowledged by her employers.My son studied here till high school and moved back to India for higher studies in 2008. My daughter was born here in Dubai Hospital in 1997 and loves this place so much that she considers UAE her first home.I brought my 3 cousins here and now they are well settled. I moved my family in 2008 back to India for my sons higher education and you will not believe my wife and kids struggled to come to terms with being not in UAE, where we are all pampered with comforts.Now they come here every 3 months as they miss me and the warm UAE. Therefore after living in UAE for 20 years and experiencing the good and bad times the region has gone through I do not agree with the Forbes Magazine and I am sure all my folks living here will support me with my opinion.

Vince 7 years ago

Parthasarathy, In a few years (unless you immigrate elsewhere) you will have to move back to your country of Origin, India and be forced into getting used to a lifestyle that you obviously find tedious.

You miss the point of the survey which is based on a) Ability to befriend locals, b) Success in learning the language, c) Integration into the community and d) Ease of fitting into the local culture.

Has your opinion considered any of the 4 qualifiers listed?

expatian 7 years ago

I have relatives in the U.K who say, that despite being residents for over ten years,and spending as much time with the Whites 'networking'in pubs,they are hardly ever invited to the home of an Englishman.
And they are not complaining, because that is how the society is.
Yes. I do think that this study has to be denounced as being Racist, as it focusses on anglosaxon groups/societies and applies the results on other countries.

James 7 years ago

I have lived in Dubai since 2001, I'm from UK. Most of my friends are locals, I speak Arabic because I chose to do so and made the effort (and how hard can it be when ever those that are branded as illiterate or uneducated workers can learn it! - I don't tat as demeaning in any way to anyone other tat those who don't bother trying!), integration with local is as easy, have you tried??? where and how have you tried? As for fitting in with local culture, how can that be difficult? Its a culture that holds at its core with respect, tolerance and acceptance of others. if it didn't, how could you see those that have so little respect for it flaunting themselves half dressed in malls, or drunk at weekends all over Dubai? Now tell me who is more tolerant!

David Jay 7 years ago

I have been to Dubai on holiday almost once a year for 7 years and have never found it remotely unsafe or dangerous-apart from the appalling standard of driving. Learn and respect local customs and you will have no problems. Indulge in stupid antics that offend the locals and you get what you deserve, and will then call the place unfriendly.