Top 5 Expat Destinations: Middle East Edition
Tired of the colder seasons? Dreaming of living somewhere hot all year round? Have you considered the Middle East? In recent years, the Middle East has been at the forefront of companies, business people, and expats’ minds. The constant warm temperatures, developing cities, and job opportunities are drawing many expats in. With significant investment happening within this region, the chance to earn more than at home is the motivation for many moves.
There are lots of things to consider when moving to this region. Unlike European countries, which have always been popular with Brits, the Middle East is a relatively new player in the field. This makes for an exciting move; however, it can also be overwhelming. With some countries within this region enforcing Islam laws, for the Western world, moving to a Middle Eastern country can come with a real culture shock. Despite its new emergence and exciting opportunities, the Middle East can be misunderstood – nevertheless, there are some truly awe-inspiring destinations that await you.
1. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The UAE has boomed in the last 10 years, especially cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It’s hardly a surprise that it makes the top 10 list of the best countries in the world for expats. Its large British communities, welcoming environment, and career opportunities make the UAE very attractive to many Brits who are considering an overseas move.
The financial initiatives are an excellent draw for early and experienced professionals alike. Many younger workers are being offered salaries that are up to 50% higher than that in their home countries, and with the added benefit of no income tax to pay, it’s easy to see the attraction. However, it’s not just the financial aspect that draws people in. The lifestyle improvement is a pull to the UAE’s cities, with a growing cosmopolitan skyline and an idyllic Gulf surrounding. Expats can find themselves enjoying a brighter, warmer way of life if they move to the UAE.
Although the UAE is an Islamic nation, with 90% of its population being foreign or expats, laws are becoming increasingly relaxed to mirror Western structures. However, it is still advised to observe local laws and be respectful at all times.
A small but mighty island in the heart of the Middle East, Bahrain has quickly become a hub for expats. The nation offers a luxurious lifestyle and healthy work packages, which draw foreign professionals from across the world.
Surrounded by the Persian Gulf, Bahrain offers stunning views, sandy beaches and clear blue water, creating natural attractions and activities for those living here. This island is rapidly making a name for itself as it dips its toes into the waters of global sporting events. Hosting a Formula 1 Grand Prix has made a global impact and put Bahrain on a stage for the world. It’s no wonder the community keeps on growing.
The country follows Islamic laws but is less conservative and more relaxed than neighbouring Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
If tax-free income is your draw to the Middle East, then Qatar is a top destination for you. This country is best known for its high living standards, booming economy, and bright cities. The most popular destination is the capital, Doha, which has a growing community of foreign workers.
Qatar opened its doors and made a name for itself in front of the whole world by hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Not only has the nation built attractions for itself such as museums and shopping malls, but its collection of beaches and nature reserves is one of its best-kept secrets.
Following criticism since the World Cup, Qatar has begun to relax regulations and update laws to fight social inequality; however, there is still a way to go. Preparing for the culture and being well-versed with the laws is crucial for any expat considering relocation here.
Tucked into the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is a stunning, friendly, and adventurous destination. Known for its beaches, rivers, deserts and Wadi Ghul (Oman’s Grand Canyon), Oman offers a unique experience to those open to change. Although there aren’t a huge number of expats living here, there is a demand for the skills they bring. With most living in Muscat, there is a traditional and modern feel to the city. Many are attracted to Oman as it is considered one of the safest countries in the region.
Although Oman is often overshadowed by its well-developed neighbours, living here offers a more authentic and local experience in the Middle East.
Often overlooked when it comes to the Middle East due to its close connections with Europe, Turkey is a vibrant, relaxed and friendly country. It’s full of rich history, stunning beaches and bustling cities. Heading to Turkey may be familiar, but there is far more on offer here than just a beautiful holiday destination.
One of the key attractions is a high standard of living for expats at a lower cost than being in the UK. With diverse cities dotted along the coast and in the mountains, you’ll be sure to find somewhere that ticks all your boxes. Even though it isn’t as warm all year round as the other destinations on our list, Turkey provides excellent links to the Middle East and Europe, making it a hub for businesses.