"For a better life," is what overseas citizens might say when summing up why they left their homes and emigrated to a different country.
Decisions to relocate and adapt to expatriate culture can be diverse and personal. But people are often driven by many of the same considerations: for professional growth and better-paying jobs, for their children to receive a better education, often too for families to leave behind conflict in home countries, and enjoy the higher standard of living that comes with better jobs – out of a hope that they might live happier, safer and more fulfilling lives, whether in the West or in the Gulf or any other city in the world they choose.
Abu Dhabi's recently announced campaign to attract talent from across the world comes at a good time. For one, in a post-Covid-19 world, professionals and entrepreneurs of start-ups – be it in FinTech, AgTech, EdTEch or any future technology – who are considering a move to the capital are likely to thoroughly research health care in any city they could potentially settle in.
And if the previous year has shown one distinct advantage of living in Abu Dhabi, it is the city's healthcare capabilities and how well it looks after its people. The no-nonsense approach in dealing with the virus was evident from early last year – extensive testing, safety restrictions, followed by a comprehensive vaccine drive. So much so, the UAE may well have an edge over some western countries, where measures have not always been as effective as in the Emirates.
Additionally, in the past fortnight, a major legal change has made it possible for the most meritorious in this global trade hub to be granted UAE citizenship, an option not previously on the table. Among others, doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs and those contributing to the arts will make up a desired talent pool, and be among those eligible to be nominated for Emirati citizenship.
In November last year, the UAE broadened the scope of its golden card visa or its 10-year visa scheme, launched in May 2019, to draw exceptional workers and foreign investors to establish deeper roots in the country, a move that would enable the country to benefit from rich and varied expertise.
"Thrive in Abu Dhabi", the new campaign, makes a lot of sense for other reasons as well. For those considering bringing their families to the UAE, there is great comfort in the safety that living in the capital affords. In a survey just last month, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah were voted among the world's 10 safest cities. There is the draw of lifestyle and nature too. The city's mangroves, the abundance of green spaces and a further investment in parks and public spaces to the tune of Dh8 billion (over $2bn) as part of Ghadan 21, the set of extensive reforms worth Dh50bn which are meant to improve residents' lives – all will go a fair way to attract key professionals.
From the standpoint of culture, the past five years especially have given the city a fillip, not least with Louvre Abu Dhabi enticing art lovers and Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism redoubling efforts to promote its heritage offerings to tourists and residents alike.
By inviting those who excel in their fields, whether in science, AI, education or engineering, the city has taken a smart decision. It is wise for the talented professional to consider the UAE as a future home. There are abundant opportunities to excel and for growth both personal and professional. For families taking the long view of life, the benefits of the move are likely to be immense.