The UAE jumped 10 places to be ranked the fourth-best place in the world to live and work as an accelerated Covid-19 vaccine campaign and a rebounding economy attract more foreign workers to the country, according to a new study.
Switzerland was ranked the best country to work and live globally, while Australia and New Zealand took second and third place, respectively.
Guernsey and Jersey in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Bahrain, Singapore and Qatar rounded off the top 10, according to HSBC’s 14th annual Expat Explorer study, which polled more than 20,000 people who live and work abroad in 46 countries between March and May 2021.
About 82 per cent of residents surveyed in the UAE feel optimistic that life will be more stable and return to normal in the next 12 months despite the global pandemic, according to HSBC.
In comparison, 75 per cent of respondents on average globally were optimistic about life returning to normal in the next 12 months, the survey found.
Fifty-three per cent of UAE respondents also expect an increase in their income and 57 per cent are confident of a better work-life balance over the next year, HSBC said.
Optimism levels were at their highest in Taiwan, with 85 per cent of respondents feeling hopeful. This was followed by Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam.
“The UAE being billed among the top five best places to live and work globally is inspiring and a clear indication of the huge potential that drives this country’s economy,” said Abdulfattah Sharaf, chief executive of HSBC UAE and head of international.
“The connectivity of the economy combined with the scale of its vision has transformed it from a small fishing and pearling port in the 1940s into a global trade, logistics, shipping, aviation, business and finance hub today. The country’s focus on innovation, infrastructure, quality of life, diversity and inclusion have made it the destination of choice for businesses and professionals looking to grow and prosper.”
A separate survey by global network InterNations in May this year ranked the UAE 18th out of 59 destinations in the world for overseas workers to work and live abroad.
The list was dominated by Asian and South American locations, with Taiwan leading the ranking for the third year in a row followed by Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia and Portugal, according to the Expat Insider 2021 study.
The UAE’s economy has continued to recover from the coronavirus-induced slowdown, helped by higher oil prices and a rebound in tourism and economic activity generated by Expo 2020 Dubai.
It is expected to grow 3.1 per cent in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund. That is higher than the UAE Central Bank’s estimate, which projects the country’s economy will expand by 2.1 per cent this year and 4.2 per cent in 2022.
Meanwhile, 56 per cent of residents chose to move to the UAE to improve their earnings while 49 per cent moved for career progress and 43 per cent to improve their quality of life, the HSBC survey found.
The quality of life in the UAE is what makes residents stay longer than intended, according to the survey. Eighty-six per cent of overseas workers in the UAE said their overall quality of life is better than in their home country and 60 per cent intend to stay longer for that reason.
Only 11 per cent said the pandemic changed their plans of staying in the UAE, the survey results found.
Eight in 10 UAE respondents also said their children are more aware and open to different cultures and experiences in the Emirates.
“The UAE’s openness to diverse cultures and views is a key attraction for expats looking to make the country their home,” Mr Sharaf said.