Is Moving Abroad for Work A Good Idea?
There are several advantages and disadvantages that anyone moving abroad for work must consider before finalizing their plans. The number of expat staff has steadily increased across the GCC over the last few decades, with 51% of the regional population classed as expats. The percentage of expat staff is reported to be as high as 89% in the United Arab Emirates and as low as 37% in Saudi Arabia.
These numbers are growing rapidly as governments invest in a range of industries and diversify away from oil and gas. In 2023, the regional job market is expected to continue to boom. Saudi is predicted to have a ‘record-breaking year’ in 2023, with 57% of firms planning to hire new recruits. The UAE is also set to experience another year of growth when it comes to job opportunities and recruitment.
This is nothing but good news for local and international staff looking for employment in The Middle East. In this ‘job seekers market’ – where the number of jobs available outweighs the number of people available, the region is expected to see an influx of international staff to fill that gap. The Economic Times of India, HR World reported that 2022’s ‘#TheGreatResignation’ is better considered as the‘#GreatAttraction’ – an opportunity to stop the ‘war on talent’ and instead focus on how companies can shape their businesses to attract the talent they need.
However, the decision to move abroad for work should never be taken lightly. There are several advantages and disadvantages that any person contemplating a job opportunity abroad should consider before making a move.
So, what are the advantages of moving abroad for work?
Better career prospects
Finding better career opportunities can be the number one catalyst for job hunting abroad. While there may be a saturation of skills in your home country, other countries may be suffering a talent drought. Identifying countries that require the abilities, skills, or experience you have can help narrow down the potential regions, countries, and locations to target your job search.
Improved quality of life
GCC countries are well known for their superior quality of life. In fact, in 2022, the UAE was voted as the best destination for expats in the Middle East and the second-best place to live in the world, with Abu Dhabi coming in at number nine. Across the GCC, staff may likely experience an overall better quality of life, which may include improved health care, paid leave, paid accommodation, and other additional benefits.
The prospect of improved financial stability is often a primary reason for working abroad, especially for those from low-income countries. Across the GCC, you will likely find opportunities with better financial remuneration than in your home country. This may allow you to send money home, start saving, or simply break free from debt.
Learning or improving language skills
Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to learn or improve your language skills is to move to a country that speaks it. In the GCC’s case, this is primarily Arabic or English; however, Urdu, Hindi, Tagalog and French are commonly spoken by expats across the region.
Exploring more of the world
The famous explorer Ibn Battuta once said, “traveling – it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller’. For many, working abroad is the only viable way to explore the world. Aside from the stories to tell, traveling is also reported to improve your mental health, relieve stress, and increase your happiness.
If those are the pros, what are the cons?
Language barriers and communication
Moving to a country which speaks a language you may not be familiar with can be daunting. Many find it beneficial to learn a few key words and phrases from the local language ahead of time. However, with such a mixture of nationalities working across the GCC, it may be best to learn a language such as English. English is commonly spoken across the globe and the Middle East and may make the transition that much easier. Not only that but speaking English is also likely to improve your job prospects and increase your potential salary by 30 – 50%.
Leaving family and friends
Leaving close family and friends can often be the most challenging part of moving abroad. Therefore, it’s understandable that many may experience moments of loneliness. The good news is that it’s a perfectly normal part of the process and often short-lived. With such a high percentage of expat staff in the GCC, there are many opportunities to meet new people. You will likely meet an array of different people at work or in the local communities – many of whom may also feel the same way.
Understanding new laws and worker rights
Understanding your rights and the laws of the country you are moving to may sound daunting, but it will ultimately be advantageous. It’s best not to assume that local laws or rights will be similar to your home country. Laws, rules, regulations, and rights can not only differ from country to country in the Middle East but also may vary across different parts of the same country.
Settling into a new company
Many people leaving their home country for job opportunities abroad may find themselves working in multinational companies and teams for the first time. This may mean meeting people from different countries and backgrounds or with different values, religions, and even ways of working. Learning to work with a diverse group of people is about understanding and accepting people’s differences and enjoying what this adds to your day-to-day working experience.
Un-ethical recruiters and organizations
Un-ethical hiring refers to several ways in which un-ethical recruiters or organizations may deliberately recruit people into roles. This can include misleading job ads, passing high recruitment fees onto candidates, violating worker rights by taking passports, docking salaries, or not providing safe working conditions. You can avoid this by reading about some of these un-ethical practices on the EduPloyment blog ‘Ethical Employment’.
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