Living Abroad: An Expat’s Guide on Relocating to the Middle East

With booming economies, great career prospects, and rich cultures, the diverse region of the Middle East has fast become an attractive prospect for many interested in living abroad. 

Bahrain tops the list as the most attractive option, topping other countries in the Gulf in the Internations Working Abroad Index for Career Prospects and Satisfaction but this is a mere reflection on the region as a whole.

But what can one expect when moving to the Middle East? 

Allow us to give you a window onto the ex-pat experience to be had. 

What Is the Standard of Living Like?

The standard of living many ex-pats will experience living abroad in the Middle East can be quite high, with things such as having a driver, a cleaner, or a chef commonplace. Due to the region being oil-rich gas prices are very low and a total tax rate of only 24.2% for the whole region, with none applied in the U.A.E.   

However, the savings made on petrol and low taxes are easily offset with high accommodation and education costs. 

With places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi becoming holiday hotspots and the beaches of Oman being legendary you can sure that finding things to do in your leisure time will not be too difficult. Much is geared towards the numerous ex-pat community making it that little bit easier to make it a place to call home.

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

Whilst there is much diversity to be found across the Middle East, one unifying factor that an ex-pat will experience, regardless of where they live is heat. Even if you are someone who welcomes the warmer weather, with summer temperature averaging between 101 °F to 108 °F it will take some getting used to. Being this warm, the desire of most ex-pats is not to work on their tan but on staying where there is good airconditioning. 

Qatar is the country that experiences the hottest temperatures overall, reaching 113°F in the summertime.

Cultural Differences

Anyone coming from the west will notice stark differences in how things are done in both society and business. Alcohol is banned in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait yet it is available in places like U.A.E and Oman under some restrictions.   

It is important to keep in mind that there is a strong emphasis on building relationships when doing business. Topics such as family and the community are of primary importance and so try not to cut to the chase, as people are reluctant to do business with those they don’t trust. 

Moving to the Middle East as a Woman  

The role of women in the region is often talked about yet misunderstood, as things are ever-changing and there is much variation between countries. 37% of all ex-pats in the region are women and opportunities for career progression are good with Bahrain leading the way

Be sure to research the specific country you wish to move to be clear about what to expect regarding clothing and customs.     

Considering Living Abroad?

All things considered, the appeal of the Middle East is clear!

What we have provided is just a general overview of the common factors experienced by working in the Middle East but is in no way a comprehensive list. Each country boasts a rich heritage and culture that deserves anyone thinking of considering living abroad to look research deeply and decide what is best for them.

If you are interested in other interesting cultural tidbits check out the other great content on our blog!