If you had asked many Brits 20 years ago to show you Dubai on a World Map, I think it’s fair to say that most of us would have been scratching our heads. However in recent years Dubai has become one of the most talked about Cities in the World. Its meteoric rise is largely down to enormous amounts of public and private investment to transform what used to be a small trading town into a millionaires playground.
Money seemed to be no object, as Dubai revealed remarkable plans to develop what was largely dessert into the most impressive Skyline in the World.
However, Dubai’s model of ‘spend, spend, spend’ left a fragile economy with constant talk from residents about the metaphoric Bubble bursting at some point. Unfortunately in 2008 the effects of the Banking collapses worldwide took its toll on Dubai. Construction ground to a halt with many experiencing Dubai's cash flow problems first hand. Mass redundancies in a variety of sectors, most notably in construction followed, and construction companies in the region has since been prospecting for new & "emerging" Middle East & North African markets in the region.
However, the rise and fall of Dubai does not need to be a negative tale. Dubai has shown the way to the rest of this oil rich region of the world; but also, many feel that Dubai will be back into growth again within a few years from now.
Dubai seems to have inspired its neighbours to also start planning for the day that the oil runs out in the Gulf. Countries such as Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and neighbouring Emirate Abu Dhabi all have followed suit, investing in huge amounts of construction work over recent years and many Dubai 'refugees' have found good work elsewhere in these locations.
For those that have lost their jobs in Dubai due to the downturn, but wish to continue earning tax free salaries, with excellent perks and year round sun, there continue to be other locations in the region where you can achieve all of these things.
Abu Dhabi seems to be the most popular haven for many that were affected by the Dubai bust. Situated just over an hour down the road from Dubai, living in Dubai and commuting to its neighbouring Emirate has become a popular choice with the construction professionals that Maxim is in touch with as projects continue to be awarded in Abu Dhabi.
Qatar, Oman and Bahrain also offer many of the perks that Dubai offered although are known to be slightly sleepier. Saudi and Kuwait are known to be stricter on common aspects of western culture such as alcohol, although living in camps can often mitigate the direct exposure to many of these laws.
Construction continues to move forward in the Middle East, all be it at a slower pace than the previous boom. Lessons have been learnt from Dubai’s Boom and Bust economy and governments seem to be airing on the side of caution when deciding on future developments. A slower more careful approach seems to have been adopted for future developments although their ambition remains the same. Countries in the region continue to be committed to huge projects improving Infrastructure, Schools, Healthcare and Tourism.
In summary there will be opportunities for British expatriate staff in Quantity Surveying, Project Management and Engineering jobs in the Middle East for years to come. Dubai may have been the City that made this part of the world famous for its ambitious construction plans, but it will be other locations such as Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait that may well be the places to be over the next few years. These locations still offer excellent benefits and a more appealing climate than the UK. Some may not have the full glitz and glamour that Dubai is know for quite yet, but neither did Dubai 10 years ago when construction started there. Getting in early in a rising location is after all the real secret of long term success!