UAE gets thumbs up as top expat location

UAE gets thumbs up as top expat location Chris Ferguson (Opinion) / 25 August 2013 Dubai has become a centre of financial sophistication “Where in the world do I want to be?” For many expatriates that dream location will be the UAE. Indeed, the recent NatWest International Personal Banking Quality of Life Index survey has confirmed that this year the UAE is in third place, up from 10th position in just three years.  This move up the ladder is no surprise to those of us already enjoying the benefits of tax free, above average salaries which are the norm for expats working here. For a ‘quality of life’ index to stand up it has to encompass the categories ‘employment prospects’ and ‘financial status’. These are the parmount considerations for any would-be expatriate. The expanding network of expertise to be found in Dubai’s International Finance Centre provides a vital opportunity for expatriates to maximise their full wealth potential during their time here. — KT file photo And so it will be no surprise to learn that a major theme emerging from GWM’s discussions with our private clients concerns the universal need for professional advice on effective money management; the kind that both protects and builds wealth. In this context, Dubai’s story is an inspirational one. It has emerged from the desert sands to become one of the world’s most sought after locations. It achieved this status because it had the determination to protect its natural resources and the foresight to build upon them for future generations’ prosperity. Any location hoping to remain a universal favourite must build the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the levels of sophisticated financial planning today’s expatriates require in order to protect and build their private wealth. This infrastructure must offer a level of protection that safeguards existing savings and investments as well as the necessary regulatory gumption to licence only bona fide financial management companies, proficient and skilled in all areas of investment advisory and management work. Great strides have been taken by the UAE’s financial regulators to oversee the growth and development of a finance sector that is capable of meeting and matching its counterparts in the global arena. The recent opening in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) of the first FTSE office in this region is an example of how this approach is bearing fruit. Dubai is increasingly recognised as a centre of financial sophistication that can offer global players, such as the index provider, a gateway to this high-growth region. The expanding network of expertise to be found in Dubai’s International Finance Centre (DIFC) provides a vital opportunity for expatriates to maximise their full wealth potential during their time here. As an indication of how successful the DIFC has been over its first nine years in operation it now employs over 14,000 people and is home to 940 companies. The DIFC has confirmed that it continues to receive active interest from companies from the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East all keen to set up shop. The recent news that Abu Dhabi is to set up its own financial free zone will surely set the UAE bar even higher. Another high quality international finance centre will attract even more major players increasing the tiers of expertise and experience in all areas of investment and money management. As with the DIFC, the Abu Dhabi World Financial Market is expected to mature into a significant financial hub with its own legal structure, regulator and courts. Such developments are in keeping with both Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s declared intent to diversify their economies so they are less oil-dependent. The financial services industry is a global market growth area, and paving the way now with the necessary infrastructure to house international finance centres of excellence will ensure its continuing attraction to the world’s best workforce. Indeed, it may not be long before we see the UAE at the top of the indices for most favoured expatriate location. The writer is the managing director of the UAE, Guardian Wealth Management. Views expressed by the author are his own and do not reflect the newspaper’s policy Taylor Scott International

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