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
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Tue 17 Jan 2012 04:56 PM

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 sunshine.co.uk found.

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

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