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Gulf region stands out as premier destination for foreign workers

The movement of expatriates to the region can be traced back to the rapid economic development and the high demand for skilled and specialized workers.

  • The number of foreigners in the Gulf region has exceeded 281 million, representing approximately 3.6% of the world’s population.

  • Many foreigners move to the region for job opportunities, business ventures, education, family reunification, and the appealing cultural and climate benefits.

  • A significant influx of foreigners is seen in the Gulf, notably in the UAE with expatriates making up 90% of the population, and in Qatar, where foreigners make up 85% of residents.

A report by the Arabian Business website highlights the Gulf region’s growing appeal among foreigners, who are increasingly choosing to live in countries within the region. This trend is attributed to the diminishing barriers to international travel and the unprecedented levels of global mobility. The movement of expatriates to the region can be traced back to the rapid economic development and the high demand for skilled and specialized workers.

The report quoted the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which stated that the number of foreigners in the Gulf has exceeded 281 million, representing approximately 3.6% of the world’s population.

This figure indicates that many foreigners move to the region to access job opportunities, establish companies, or broaden their academic and professional horizons. Others relocate to be with their families, attracted by the appealing prospect of living in the Gulf for cultural exploration or a more suitable climate compared to their home country.

The report highlighted the noticeable trend of an influx of foreigners into the Gulf region, particularly evident in the Emirates, where expatriates make up a significant portion of the population at 90%, compared to citizens. Similarly, Qatar boasts a substantial foreign population, accounting for 85% of its residents.

Economic diversification and opportunities

The “Arabian Business” report stated that the launch of economic diversification plans by most Gulf countries has created numerous opportunities for both local and international companies to attract foreign talent. These economic initiatives have also opened up new avenues in modern sectors like technology, renewable energy, healthcare, and education. The report highlights that the majority of these skilled foreign professionals come from Asia, enticed by competitive salaries and promising career prospects in rapidly developing economies.

The report stated, “The Gulf region attracts professionals from various Asian countries like India, the Philippines, and Pakistan, particularly in sectors such as construction, healthcare, and technology, where there is a high demand for their expertise. The prospect of financial stability and the opportunity to support families in their home country are also significant factors contributing to their attraction to the region.”

Tax exemptions

The Gulf region is also witnessing a significant influx of European expatriates, primarily drawn to the region by the largely tax-free financial income. When combined with competitive salaries, this leads to a considerably higher disposable income compared to their home European countries. This enables them and their families to enjoy a higher standard of living, indulge in luxuries, and save money, which may be challenging to achieve in their home countries.

Ease of business and investment

The report indicated that the ease of doing business in the Gulf region, particularly through innovative free zone plans, is an additional reason for the region’s attractiveness to foreigners. It noted that the Emirates, for instance, has over 40 free zones, each designed to facilitate business operations for both national and foreign companies.

He explained that some foreigners view the Gulf region as a temporary place to live, as some of them plan to return to their homeland or move west after a few years. Their reasons vary, ranging from seeking long-term residency and retirement plans to the desire to obtain citizenship in countries with high social welfare systems.



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