UAE workforce: The workforce in the private sector in Dubai is compromised of 2.4% UAE locals mostly in banks and insurance companies, 1.9% Europeans, 9.4% Arabs, 84.5% Asians and 1.8% others. 58% of the companies are officially owned by UAE nationals but a lot of them are silent partners and the expatriates are the true owners. In 2010, some 100,000 British citizens were based in the UAE, while the British Business Group had 1,500 members, making it one of the biggest in the world.
There is a very large British footprint here in UAE not only in trade, but also in investments. They build their regional headquarters here, for instance. Despite the crisis, British companies are still coming to the UAE and depending on the character of business they are in, they set up base in Abu Dhabi, where construction is still booming or Dubai, where the tourism and service sectors are strong.
Abu Dhabi has more locals working in the oil industry, the government ministries and the army. It has also most of the diplomats of all embassies and the number of Westerners is increasing every day. Many Westerners prefer to live in Dubai which is a more liberal city and a has better choice of international schools and entertainments but commute to work in Abu Dhabi. However, Abu Dhabi is busy adding new malls, entertainment and hotels and is certainly catching up fast.
UAE has the highest internet penetration in the Arab world (80%), the majority of residents have high speed access. Many Westerners and rich locals in Dubai live in beautiful Jumeirah in Dubai where the Emirates Hospital and CosmeSurge are located across the street from the Beach. The majority live in so called New Dubai (Dubai Marina, JBR, Springs, Arabian Ranches, Motor City and Emirates Hills).
Business Climate. UAE has few malpractice lawsuits, business friendly labor laws and too many doctors with below average facilities and expertise.
The Dubai Health Care City (DHCC) is designed to attract capital, brand names and new hospitals and well trained doctors. The vision of Sheikh Mohammed is to make Dubai a centre for business, family and medical health tourism in addition to being a centre of trade, tourism, finance and media.
Liberalization is occurring at a fast pace. Real Estate ownership is now open to non-nationals with 20 year low interest financing (20-30% down-payment required). E- Government services are ahead of Europe. Eight million tourists descended on Dubai in 2010 and hotels are at an all time occupancy rate close to 80%. Emirates Airline is also enjoying record seat occupancy and profitability.
Tourism is picking up again after slowing down but is still fairly significant. Dubai’s airport is the fifth busiest in the world. Dubailand 35 Billion Derhams project is currently on hold but was designed to spread over a three billion square feet area (Dubailand is the size of Singapore and is three times the size of Disney World in Orlando), and will include among other things a wax museum and a theme park and will require 50.000 professionals to maintain it. I predict that in due time the project shall be reactivated in line with Sheick Mohammed vision of making Dubai a a world class city and a hub for tourists.
In 2010, Dubai received eight million tourists In the first half of 2010 the largest portion of the tourists or 2,5 million were Europeans (lead by the British and Germans), closely followed by Arab tourists (2.4 million headed by the Saudis) and an exploding number of Asian toursist mostly from China (600.000 Chinese) followed by the Indians and a declining number of Iranian and Iraqi toursists compared to previous years due to visa restrictions.
Congestion in Dubai and Sharjah is much better than before, as road construction is completed but parking spaces cannot keep up with Dubai’s explosive growth (653,000 cars in Dubai and increasing 18% per year on 11000 kilometers of roads). If you can afford it, living close to work is my #1 anti-ageing advice. Currently 5% of the population use the 516 public buses and 5000 taxis. To ease traffic Dubai is investing in mass transit with a target of having 17% of the public using mass transportation by year 2020. The metro in Dubai started operating on schedule in September 2009 (the Red Line) and there are plans to expand it and to link all major cities in UAE by train. The construction of the monorail linking JBR, Palm Island, and Dubai Marina to Burj Al Arab and Emirates Mall has been put on the fast track again after a short pose following the financial crisis. In August 2011 the Blue Line should become operational as well. An excellent public bus system links the metro to the rest of the City with an air conditioned bus station at every corner, the only one in the world!
The city of Dubai is so dynamic and cosmopolitan it resembles at times being in Frankfurt’s airport. Arabic is the official language but English is widely used. Alcohol is restricted to hotel based restaurants and the penalty for drunk driving is very stiff including mandatory jail time.
Dubai is home to the Emirates Mall one of the largest in-door ski centres in the world, Sports city, Gold and diamond City, Dubai Finance City or DFC, Dubai Health Care City or DHCC, Oil services city, Biotech park, silicon valley, Academic City, Charity and Aid City, Textile city, Furniture city, in addition to the completed Internet city, Media city, two man made palm islands, Dubai Marina and the Knowledge village. A planned two billion Dollar convention city in Jabal Ali within the Jabal Ali new airport city has been put on hold but the airport has been opened for cargo planes.
Dubai represents an island of stability, freedom and growth in the middle of troubles waters. It is benefiting from the flight of Arab tourists and Arab capital from the recent “war on terrorism”.
Abu Dhabi has started an ambitious plan to catch up with Dubai. It surely has the means to do it with 10% of world oil production and more than 800 Billion Dollars in savings (Abu Dhabi Investment Fund). Both cities are great cities to live in; however, the job market is currently stronger in Abu Dhabi.
There is a big push by the government to both entice and coarse the private sector to hire Emaratis (the Emaratization program) through financial incentives and penalties.