UAE : "Crime is nonexistent here" I had two cars stolen in London

Luke was intending to make a good living from strategic consulting after earning an MBA at one of Europe's top business institutions.

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The 30-year-old British man was met by a job market and economy that felt dismal when he returned to London to hunt for work.

The International Monetary Fund predicts that the UK will have the worst-performing large economy in the world this year, and a slowdown in global deal-making has forced City institutions to cut thousands of positions.

According to Luke, who requested anonymity so that he could speak more freely, "a lot of companies are concerned about global economic shocks, are cutting costs, and seem just generally wary about making offers, particularly to expensive hires."

However, the Middle East, the other region he examined, appeared to be experiencing fewer such problems, with Dubai standing out in particular.

Luke recently accepted a job offer from a global consulting firm that pays about £100,000 annually. He intends to work there for a few years while putting money aside to use when buying a home back home.

He also anticipates having a lot of fun because there is no income tax and housing is less expensive in Dubai.

"Dubai just seems to have a lot of opportunities right now, and you are taking home a lot more of your pay," Luke continues. "I want to go on a journey."

Many British workers today are weighing their options before deciding to go to the Gulf city state in pursuit of a greater salary and a better standard of living.

In comparison to Europe's traditional old cities, Dubai's extravagantly tall skyscrapers and enormous, air-conditioned retail malls have long been regarded as little more than a playground for visitors and the wealthy.

However, current expats claim the city has developed. And some parents now consider it to be a better place to work and raise a family than Britain, where economic stagnation and post-war high taxes are prevalent.

UAE outgrowing UK
UAE outgrowing UK

The very wealthy are included in this. Nick Candy, the real estate magnate behind the opulent One Hyde Park development in Knightsbridge, said this week that he was sick of both the crime in London and the debated transgender topics being taught in schools.

"The capital entering Dubai has transformed. "People are saying, 'I'm tired of the crime in the countries I live in,'" he told Bloomberg.

"Some of the principles we formerly held dear in Western nations are not the same values we have today, and who would have believed that sometimes the Middle East's value system is better than ours?

I'm sorry to say it, and I know some people won't like it, but I just don't think it's right to teach transgender issues to young children in schools.

Meanwhile, experts, recruiters, and schools claim they are looking for an influx of UK graduates who are sick of London's exorbitant rent prices and taxes that can consume nearly half of a person's monthly income.

"It's definitely a push back to what has been happening in the UK," says Romell Gumbs of the Dubai-based advising business Creative Zone.

People are tired of paying escalating amounts of tax on their income and homes, particularly in light of the pandemic's tremendous pressure.

You have an upper-middle class feeling.

You have an upper-middle class feeling.
You have an upper-middle class feeling.

Approximately 90% of Dubai's population is made up of foreigners. The goal of the administration is to transform the city into a contemporary Constantinople, one that connects East and West through entrepreneurship.

According to Ryan Bohl, a senior Middle East and North Africa analyst at the RANE Network, "Since the 1990s, they have tried to present Dubai as socially liberal, while being very conservative and tolerant."

Although the emirate works to project a stable, business-friendly, and opulent image, one should avoid having a political opinion while they are in Dubai because doing so is a great way to get deported. And to some extent, they have been successful.

"When people relocate to Dubai, I believe they all feel as though they have advanced in class. Because so many amenities are built with luxury in mind, if you're middle class, you feel a little bit more upper-middle class.

The emirate also makes an effort to stay out of geopolitical conflicts, such as by refusing to censure Russia, and it actively combats crime, making it one of the safest cities in the world, he continues.

In contrast to the past, when some businesses viewed it as a bad posting, an increasing number of Western fans are now drawn to Dubai because of its sunny climate, fashionable lifestyle, and lax government.

Official data on the number of Britons residing in Dubai is difficult to find, however at one point, estimates put their number at 240,000, making them the largest British population in the Middle East.

During the pandemic, thousands of them lost their jobs and went home. Recruiters, educational institutions, and corporate organisations assert that the numbers have increased over the past 12 months.

"We are seeing a huge influx of expatriates from all over the world, but notably, I think, from Western Europe and very notably British people," claims Nalini Cook, head of worldwide research at ISC Research.

Murtaza Khan, a managing partner for the Middle East at the immigration law firm Fragomen, attributes this increase to the introduction of several new visa types, most notably the "freelance visa" for independent contractors and the "digital nomad visa" for remote workers, both of which were introduced during the pandemic.

These are viewed as a game-changer because they eliminate the need for a local sponsor for expats.

The strongest attraction for many professionals, whether they are bankers, project managers, teachers, or nurses, may be increased pay and a lack of income taxes.

According to Filip Rideau, Manpowergroup's area manager for the Middle East, those going for positions in the healthcare industry can increase their pay by 20 percent, while those moving for employment in finance can receive a 30 percent rise. The increase is even greater for some particular roles.

Primed for a pay rise
Primed for a pay rise

According to a senior director at a school company in Dubai, they now receive "thousands" of applications—many of them from irate Britons—instead of the hundreds they used to receive for each teaching position.

The director continues, "They are fed up with the conditions in English schools, with the politics, with Ofsted, and with all of their salary going to house payments.

In Dubai, a teacher can get a starting salary of £2,750 per month, plus housing and furnishing allowances, premium healthcare, kid tuition, and travel costs. The starting wage for teachers in London is roughly $2,250 per month, which can be lowered to about £1,700 per month after taxes and pension contributions.

In Dubai, salaries are frequently higher, and since no income tax is due, this has a greater impact on take-home pay.

According to Gareth El Mettouri, market director at employment agency Robert Half, a financial director making £70,000 to £100,000 a year in the UK might make £132,000 to £183,000 in Dubai.

Given the pay increase and lack of tax, a mover in the top tax bracket could more than triple their take-home pay each month to about £15,000.

Simrin Chana, the head of legal and compliance for Zurich Insurance in the Middle East, who has now lived in Dubai for almost ten years, says that receiving a paycheck that is genuinely your wage and hasn't been considerably decreased is quite rewarding.

The 39-year-old concluded ten years ago that there were better chances in Dubai while working as a junior lawyer in London. Like many others, she has grown to adore the humid climate, the convenience of getting around, and the urban way of life.

"The city is very international," she continues. You don't feel isolated because there are many foreigners working to create something comparable.

No income tax pays off
No income tax pays off

Because housing is less expensive than in London, pay packets are also larger. According to CBRE data, the average flat in Dubai costs roughly £21,700 annually, or £1,800 per month in February.

In contrast, according to Rightmove data for the first three months of 2023, the average rent in London was £2,500.

It also stands in stark contrast to the economic situation in Britain. The country's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum plans to quadruple both Dubai's economy and population by the year 2033. The economy increased by 7.6 percent last year.

El Mettouri notes that "not many regions in the world are posting this level of growth."

According to the World Bank, the UAE's economy would expand by an additional 3.2 percent in 2023. This will be a significant slowdown, but the UK, where the economy is predicted to contract this year, is a stark contrast.

According to El Mettouri, job hopefuls frequently bring up this difference. Energy prices are growing, earnings aren't increasing to keep up with inflation, businesses aren't giving out bonuses, and people in the UK can't save as much money.

According to Robert Half, the number of UK applicants for jobs in Dubai increased by a fifth year over year in just the first three months of 2023.


Dubai's evolution into a family vacation spot is equally impressive. Families wishing to transfer with school-aged children and no established duties is one thing El Mettouri says he has never seen before.

Before submitting job applications in January, one couple moved their four and six-year-old children from Manchester. In the UK, the spouse was a financial director making £100,000 annually.

The father found a new job in Dubai within four weeks of relocating there, earning roughly £144,000 annually. His pay after taxes so more than doubled as a result. His new employer also covers both of his children's education expenses, which is a benefit offered by many Dubai-based businesses.

Among the parents who have made the switch is Daniel Goldstein, the founder and CEO of Elements, a talent consultancy with headquarters in the UK. The US, Singapore, Malaysia, Sweden, and, starting in 2021, Dubai, all have branches of his business.

When Britain went into its second pandemic lockdown in 2020, the 45-year-old was vacationing in the city with his son, who was in Year Six at the time. They prolonged their stay when his son registered in school online, and since then, Goldstein has settled in the UAE, making his income tax-free. He claims that yet, his choice was not just financial.

One of his main objectives for the move was to be closer to the sun and have more opportunities to spend time outside, he says.

"My son and I regularly play padel [tennis], and I'm learning more golf."

"He called me in December and said, Dad, what am I doing? It's cold. The Tubes aren't running. I can't do anything. It's just not fun in London anymore," the man's son said, who will soon be joining him.

Families with working parents can typically anticipate paying less for nannies, cleaners, and school expenses.

According to the data website Snobe, the average day cost for a private school in England is roughly £3,350 each term. According to the website Edrabia, school fees in Dubai in 2019 ranged from £2,800 to £14,000 per year.

According to Gulf News, the average monthly pay for a nanny hired through an agency was between £760 and £1,300 in 2020.

In contrast, Bubbles estimates that a full-time, live-out nanny in London working 45 hours per week in 2021 may make between £3,450 and £4,500.

"I was surprised that there's actually quite a lot to do on weekends," says Anil Stocker, an entrepreneur and founder of fintech company Kriya Financial who temporarily relocated to Dubai during the pandemic and is now considering going back.

There was a lot more depth to it than I had anticipated because you can go to the desert, go trekking, go surfing, and do outdoor sports like cycling in the desert (there is a terrific cycling course).

Another issue that many expats raise is the absence of crime. "Kids are getting mugged outside schools all the time in London, but here crime is non-existent," adds Goldstein.

I keep my front door open all the time, I never lock my car, and in Queen's Park, [London], I had two automobiles taken from outside my house. You live in these really nice areas where crime and security are not even worries.

Chana, another expat, echoes this sentiment: "You can leave your phone, your bag anywhere - you'll get them back. It really is somewhere where you feel safe and secure when going out."

According to information previously released by the Office for National Statistics, London had the most reports of bladed weapons last year out of any other city.

Knife offences reported to the Metropolitan Police climbed from 10,605 to 11,232 between October 2021 and June 2022.

Additionally, Candy, the property tycoon married to Holly Valance, an Australian pop star and actress, has found this to be a major deal-breaker.

The London-born entrepreneur questioned, "Would I send my daughter to a place like that if you were from China and you wanted to send your kids to university here or be educated here and you're reading about the crime on our streets and knife crime?

According to reports, Candy has been travelling to Dubai once a month for business meetings, occasionally with his wife and two daughters.

A joint venture between the tycoon's company, Candy Capital, and the Dubai World Trade Centre has been established to create a "super prime" real estate project that will be used for both residential and commercial reasons.

The emirate is rapidly luring an increasing number of British entrepreneurs and start-ups because to the emirate's lax regulations, its pleasant lifestyle, and the considerable incentives on offer.

According to Kriya's Stocker, the UAE is attempting to treat high-tech companies like royalty by providing assistance with office expenses, speedier visa processing, better access to financing, and even introductions to local firms and authorities.

There has been a significant increase in businesses trying to establish themselves in the city, according to Katy Holmes, general manager of the British Business Group in Dubai, which assists British-owned businesses.

"To be honest, it's amazing. In May of last year, we were onboarding a new member every other day, every day in January, and twice a day in February.

"At the moment, it really does feel like a land of opportunity."

According to Creative Zone, the biggest set-up advising company in Dubai, the UK just surpassed India as the country from where most people establish businesses in the UAE.

Greater Brexit red tape, which some believe will remove the benefits of being based in the UK, the epidemic shift to remote working, and the new visas available are key factors fueling the boom, but companies may also find it is not difficult to persuade employees to move.

According to Ilya Kondrashov, chief executive of venture capital fund Quantum Light, who permanently relocated to Dubai after the Covid crisis, "the main strengths are zero tax, zero crime, and great infrastructure."

I used to take almost an hour to get from Holland Park to our office in Canary Wharf in London, which was pretty stressful. Nowadays, I rarely drive anywhere for more than 20 minutes, no matter where I need to go.

British businesses dominate
British businesses dominate

A commercial licence, which costs between AED 6,000 and 50,000 (£1,300 to £11,000) to set up, is all that entrepreneurs in Dubai need to be able to relocate and secure visas for their families.

For each new employee they hire from the UK, there is a £3,000 visa charge and the company pays for their medical insurance. "There is just a level of efficiency," explains Goldstein. "We set up the entire business for about £5,000."

Corporation tax, which will be implemented in June at a rate of just 9pc (a little more than a third of the UK's 25pc rate), will only be levied on enterprises with revenues over an anticipated threshold of AED 375,000 (about £81,000).

If they so choose, employees can also discover comforts of home in Dubai, where Waitrose and Marks & Spencer have locations.

The term "rollercoaster capitalism"

While an influx of Russian oligarchs to Dubai is helping to push up property prices dramatically, not everything familiar to Brits will be welcomed.

They have increased by 50% just in the last two years, according to Simon Baker, general director of Dubai-based Haus & Haus.

According to Knight Frank estate brokers, price growth in the premium sector has reached 108 percent.

Other drawbacks, such as the nation's bad attitude towards human rights and autocratic legal system, would also cause many to pause.

It implies that foreigners involved in legal problems shouldn't necessarily expect fair treatment and that complaining at work may carry greater risks than it would in the West.


According to Middle East analyst Bohl, "it's not a country that is a rule of law country.

British expats often receive a somewhat softer treatment, although occasionally the Emirati feel like setting an example. They have rules, but they're selectively implemented based on political concerns.

Gay people still experience discrimination, and even though the emirate has grown significantly more accepting over time — for instance, by removing screens from eateries that are open to non-Muslims during Ramadan — same-sex sexual activity is still illegal, and gay couples cannot hold hands or kiss in public without running the risk of being arrested, imprisoned, or even put to death.

Equal treatment for women is not always a given, and when the economy is in trouble, foreign workers may lose their jobs quickly and brutally.

While they are currently on the upswing, Bohl continues, "There are very few safety nets, and that's important to kind of keep in mind if things turn sour. It is very much rollercoaster capitalism there."

British emigration risk

Despite the fact that Dubai continues to attract skilled workers, the fact that Britain is still a net magnet for foreign talent should still cause concern.

Paul Johnson, head economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, claims that "we have a lot of people of very high calibre still coming into London."

"And looking back over history, there have been worries about high levels of immigration to the UK over the last 20 years, but of course, if you go back to the 1970s, there was a lot of concern about a 'brain drain' - about individuals moving overseas.

"I don't know if there was really good research on that, but it was part of a general sense of national decline," said the speaker.

But even if it's a small percentage, it's a straw in the wind if it means that your brightest and finest are turning their attention elsewhere.

The migration of graduates and families to Dubai, according to Max Marlow, director of research at the Adam Smith Institute, is an evident result of high taxes, soaring inflation, punishing rents, and - for families - exorbitant childcare bills.

Fresh out of college, he continues, "I see almost half of my salary go towards HMRC, even before other things like rent and the cost to maintain what is, really, a [poor] standard of living for a country that seems to think of itself as rich."

"It's not difficult to draw the conclusion: Why should we remain here?"

The graduate consultant Luke says, "The UK will always be there for me to go back to," and that it was obvious where the best offer was.

However, it appears that Dubai is where the opportunities are right now.

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