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Things to Consider When Moving to The Middle East

Middle East Expat

Over the last 18 months, the Middle East has witnessed economic downturn due to the significant reduction in oil price and as consequence budget deficits. One of the knock-on effects of the economic conditions, is the increasing apprehension of candidates to move to the Middle East.

However, after 7 years’ recruiting candidates from Asia, Europe and North America to the Middle East, I’m still to have a candidate regret moving to the region. I’m not saying all of these candidates were 100% convinced from the start about relocating and that it doesn’t come with its challenges, but regardless of economic conditions, there still remains excellent opportunities for expatriates in the region.

For those candidates currently considering a move to the Middle East, the below pointers might help you with in your decision making process. (Some apply to any candidate considering a new role regardless of location).

Assess Your Future Employer

  • Length of service of the top management. Are they a company which change at the top frequently? Do they have a new management team?
  • Background of the team. Do they come from similar companies that you have worked for previously and therefore likely to share similar work practices and culture?
  • Are there any expatriates within the top management? If so, this should give comfort that the company is experienced in hiring expatriates and therefore has the appropriate support system in place to facilitate a smooth relocation. I would also look outside of the top management to assess overall number of expatriates. A high number of expatriates can also help with developing a social life. If there are no expatriates within the business, enquire why they are looking to start hiring expatriates.
  • Staff turnover. Look through LinkedIn and check length of service of current employees in the business. In particular look through employees in the department you will be working in.

Research the Cost of Living

  • Whilst the salary is tax free for the majority of nationalities, schooling and housing is expensive. Important to factor this into salary negotiations. As you would expect with moving to any country, there are costs you will incur to rent an apartment and car. Numbeo is a good website to use for an initial cost comparison.


  • Packages in the Middle East vary from company to company. It is important you understand the full breakdown of the package from the start to avoid any misunderstanding. Given the economic environment companies don’t always provide flights per annum, education coverage, full relocation and guaranteed bonuses/ sign on bonuses. Your recruiter should be able to answer all of these questions for you.

Assess the Recruiter

  • It’s surprising how little information candidates request on the individual recruiter they are dealing with. I would encourage you to ask them about their track record in recruiting in the region, their relationship with the potential employer, candidates that would provide a reference of their service and what support they will provide through the process. Standards of recruiters is something which is often talked about, so as candidates take control and make sure the one you deal with is credible and experienced.

The Middle East is a unique environment which needs to be respected and understood. However, it has provided many a candidate with a fantastic career and lifestyle. If you are approached for a Middle East opportunity, take your time to consider and research it thoroughly.  

Want to ask me a question? Please feel free to comment below or send me a message on Linkedin

Posted by Adam O'Donnell