21 November, 2008

Why UAE?

Before anyone start exclaiming about how long I have been away, (or more probably start wondering who the hell I am and what ego allows me to assume that people will even miss me), let me say that I have missed you too, and honestly I have been up to no good.

Before indulging in that, more appropriately on my own blog where something like that belongs, I have a major question (actually two questions, but you answer one or the other, not both) to ask everyone here (and yes, there's a point and it will come):

a) As a professional expat, imagining that you are NOT already here, would you be now attracted to come into Dubai to look for employment? If you were in Dubai, would you now stay, or would you leave under certain circumstances?

b) As an investor/enterpreneur, would you now make an investment or open a business or project in Dubai? If you already invested in Dubai (property purchase doesn't count, investing in a business) or setup a business, would you stay, or are you now looking for a way to leave?

Really looking forward to some answers here, It'll help YOU more than me.

Good to speak to everyone again,

Dubai Warrior

35 comments:

smith said...

b) As an investor/enterpreneur, would you now make an investment or open a business or project in Dubai? If you already invested in Dubai (property purchase doesn't count, investing in a business) or setup a business, would you stay, or are you now looking for a way to leave?

I opened a company here just under a year ago, an IT based company. We started an online real estate project that had just started to hit it's stride before Ramadan.

With what is going on in the international real estate market the biggest issue we're having is that while there are customers interested in property it's impossible for them to get financing.

We're also running into issues with our contacts at real estate developers vanishing because they have been laid off. While we've only seen a couple developers laying off staff in the news like Damac & Omniyat, believe me there are many many more companies laying off staff.

We're modifying our operations and outsourcing more work that we had planned to locate within the UAE. It wouldn't be so bad but we can't afford to house any staff.

Personally we need to move within 9 months (if you get my drift) but the rental prices are at such a ridiculous level that I'm considering moving me and my family out of the UAE for a while to somewhere in Europe as it will work out in well our favour to rent an actual house with garden and fly to Dubai to do business every other month.

Many entrepreneurs outside of the UAE have asked me if I like it here and if they should come. Before I would have (and did) tell them to come in a heart beat, but now because to rent a nice flat by western standards costs more than most of these people pay on their mortgages back home it's just a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

regarding professionals, there are several rather compelling reasons for people. i just finished a research project into professional expatriates and their rationale for coming/being here and while the basic rationale for most remains money (which is not exactly the strongest sign of people being professionals but anyways) they came up with a few good reasons to be here:

1) a few of the consultants said while in Europe or the US projects are often about minor efficiency gains and restructring a company for the millionth time, here people can actually move things and work on larger projects with a higher impact.

2) a lot of professionals find more autonomy here (which I found a strange result as I usually hear complaints from people feeling micromanaged) but looking into the verbatim transcripts of the interviews we did, this started to make sense. professionals here are only here because of their profession and their professional work is valued and they are being listened to for their expertise and can move up rather quickly.

there were a few other things, but those two i found quite interesting myself. personally i would also add the weather and the safety, but then i live in the abu dhabi emirate, not in dubai and i am not usually here over summer.

dubai wouldnt have attracted me at any point in time in the past decade, too big, too crowded and the people remind me of london, which i left for a good reason in the first place.

i*maginate said...

Personally we need to move within 9 months (if you get my drift) but the rental prices are at such a ridiculous level that I'm considering moving me and my family out of the UAE for a while to somewhere in Europe as it will work out in well our favour to rent an actual house with garden and fly to Dubai to do business every other month.

man this is terrible, and it seems the issue is becoming real for many...average 1 bed in a so-called "nice" place in Dxb is about 10k a month...if you need to be in the UAE, why not consider moving to Al Ain...there are nice houses there - no traffic :) Good luck, anon...


anon 01.52 I know a teacher in London whom I tried to persuade to move here - even though the package is enticing for them here, they would have to rejoin the govt system at the same salary level if they went back to the UK. I can't imagine professionals moving here primarily to further their careers - they come for the $ and the lifestyle!

and pray tell, how do people in Dubai remind you of London?! LOL!

i*maginate said...

anon. 0.04 I automatically assumed you must be male. Positively sexual discrimination, baby ;-)

nzm said...

We're currently in the process of closing our Dubai company based in DIC because it's become too costly and too bureaucratic to justify the expense.

As I type, my partner is sitting in Hamburg Airport ready to fly back to Dxb to finalise the process.

The "tax-free" environment has lost its advantage. We can effectively run our operation from an apartment in Berlin for cheaper than what it costs to have the business set up in Dubai - even paying tax. We're not having to pay rent on 2 places (accommodation and business), and the rent for an apartment in Berlin is so cheap in comparison to Dubai.

When we opened our first Dxb company in 2003, the paperwork and bureaucracy was so non-existent that we were up in running in less than a week. It was easy and that made it so attractive about opening a company in the UAE in those days.

Our second business opened in 2006 took about 6 weeks with all the extra carry-on required. It was ridiculous as to what was required including a full-fledged business plan which we were required to "doctor" in order to make it look bigger than our plans. (BTW - we were asked to do this by those in charge!)

To close the company is a nightmare and we need all sorts of paperwork including an auditor's report.

We would still be in Dubai if the costs of everything weren't so ridiculous now. If we could have run a home-based business, it may still have been attractive, as we really didn't need the office space that we "had" to get.

We really love Dubai and we hope that one day we'll be back, but for now, Dubai doesn't love us enough to make it possible for us to stay.

We hope that will change again one day - insh'allah.

Good questions, Dubai Warrior - and yes, you were missed!

Kyle said...

DW:

Here are my answers on a postcard;

a) No/Leave.
b) No/Leave.

Not a happy camper, huh?

Long time, Man! How you been?

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine professionals moving here primarily to further their careers

i am a university professor and the autonomy i personally receive and the funding, which is availabe after cutting through the red tape and learning to live with problems resulting from wasta does further my career. it is an interesting, fast paced and constantly changing environment, ideal for research and for really moving things with my research. i couldnt say the same about my home country in europe. my career is publications and this is something i can get done a lot better while being here, so yes, it does further my career and of course it pays a lot better. to make the money i can make here in academia, i would have had to stay in industry back home.

and pray tell, how do people in Dubai remind you of London?! LOL!

there are to many westerners for my taste, i didnt come here to hang out with "my people", they are rude, to worried about drinking and maintaining their western lifestyle and carry their heads a bit too high and they dont care about arabs or people from the subcontinent. same like in london, only there they have to make an effort to hide it better as it is not as openly accepted in society.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr DtP said...

if you need to be in the UAE, why not consider moving to Al Ain...there are nice houses there - no traffic :)

Please J'imaginate - all you Dubai refugees have forced rents up in the Garden City no end, landlords are doing what chancers always do, and whilst nowhere near as bad as the Building Site, traffic due in no small part to commuters and idiots in blacked out in 4 x 4s (had to get that in - sorry) have worsened considerably in the last couple of years.

Al Ain is set to be a nasty duburb of AD and Dubai.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
i*maginate said...

dtp, just look @ the demographics, and sensibles will capitalise on the attractiveness of the AA Mkt.

You blame AA rents rising as a ramification of the Dubai situation. Just move to DXB, and no complaints!

What do you mean with J'ímaginate

the real nick said...

I have to echo NZM here.

We are currently setting up a company, or should I say we have been trying for the last six months to get the special approvals required by a certain ministry. The number of hoops this country make us jump through is amazing. I could open this kind of business in Europe in a month, tops, and this would be determined by our program rather that a convoluted approval process.

The rents are ridiculous. The payment terms are even more ridiculous: where fucking else in the world do you need to pay rent for one year upfront? This does not help cashflow.

If I wasn't staying for my other work and the kids' schooling (which is surprisingly good though expensive) and if this business idea wasn't that good for Dubai we'd be out in a jiffy.

Conducive business environment? My arse!

Anonymous said...

i fall under category (a) - a professional not already in dubai.

i personally cant wait until circumstances allow me to move to dubai (hoping in the coming months). i grew up there and my experiences away make the wish to return unstoppable.

guys- remember there have been bumps in the economic road before... remember the years after the gulf war? and again in the late '90s when the oil price dropped to almost nothing? even the time just after 9/11. each time the place bounced back.

i agree with anon @ 01:52- dubai is where you can actually make things happen, like nowhere else.

the rises in costs will decrease, as the infrastructure catches up with the economy.

so heres hoping for a quick and soft landing for the economy... finding a job was going to be hard enough as it is!!

i*maginate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
i*maginate said...

NZM, the biz docs need to include how many office chairs you have, and the colour. Bestens Glueck LOL

Dubai Warrior said...

Very interesting points raised. I am especially intrigued that in the UAE climate which apparently is very pro-entrepreneurial and American-style "republican" to a fault, it's investors and enterpreneurs that are feeling more heat than professional employees.

I'ld love it if you can keep those experiences coming just a bit more, just to have a clear trend.

And oh yes, a few comments were removed for being rude and hostile without a point to make. Just silly insults will be deleted.

DW

nzm said...

Dubai Warrior: Apart from reduced salary packages, (where accom and schooling costs are no longer fully covered), professional employees won't feel the heat until tax is introduced. That's when the fire will get too hot for them.

Nick: I feel for you going through that process. It's just so frustrating and mind-blowingly complicated when it really doesn't need to be.

The Top 4 countries in which to start a new company are:
1. Singapore
2. New Zealand
3. USA
4. Hong Kong

5 years ago, I would have placed the UAE (Dubai) up there with them.

But it doesn't even rate a mention in the Top 20 list. However, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain do get in!

Kyle said...

NZM:

I couldn't help but agree with you on two points;

1) the tax thing.
2) Dubai's standing 5 years ago.

As for the tax thing, I think it's inevitable no matter how hard these people hold-off its full-time implementation. What's interesting is its repercussion(s) on short & long-term residents, as well as new prospects!

Thanks for the CNN link, although I doubt Georgia is any more a serious contender to make the Top-20 list especially after their recent adventure with the Russian Bear. Rumor has it that the Russians are just waiting to send across their marching band to take over. Moreover, their goon President's biggest lobbyist (Randy Scheunemann) in DC is currently under investigation and about to be indicted. So, I doubt Georgia's on anyone's mind, right now!

Saudi Arabia & Bahrain, maybe, so long as they tone down their rhetoric and learn to just be!

Mohammed said...

To anon who cant wait to return to the UAE as he had a wonderful experience growing up here.

The UAE has undergone a lot of changes since then, and it will be an entirely different ball game to growing up.

Its easy to love a place when your greatest concerns are finding movie screening timings and the best icecream parlor in town.
Its another thing to live in a city as a professional when you have to pay a years rent (that is changing though), and you have to spend 4 hours in traffic everyday


Then again, you might get a nice place 5 min. walking distance from your office,
Good luck

Smith said...

Very interesting points raised. I am especially intrigued that in the UAE climate which apparently is very pro-entrepreneurial and American-style "republican" to a fault, it's investors and entrepreneurs that are feeling more heat than professional employees.

--

Yeah the UAE is more like opening a company in France than in USA or Canada (not good).

First of all the whole local partner thing is a right annoyance, now it's ok if there is actually a local partner who contributes and is involved with the company but really what it is is legalised extortion most of the time. Either you deal with it and pay a % to some person for lending his name, or you're forced you into a "free"zone where you have to rent office space regardless of if it is required or not.

There is no central location or site to learn about laws or regulations when it comes to opening / running a business, and if someone does tell you something, chances are the next person will tell you something totally different.

A personal favorite is driving all over the UAE to get something done, just an example not business related. To register at the hospital to have a baby they need an attested copy of my marriage certificate. I have to have it attested by the CDN consulate first, then have it attested by the UAE gov, then I can register my wife at the hospital.

To get my drivers license in RAK it took 3 trips to RAK and in the end the only reason I got it was because I got behind the counter at the police department and just wouldn't leave.

After opening companies in Canada, Belize, France and now UAE, without doubt I can say that doing business here is the most confusing and most bureaucratic that I've seen yet, with the continuous milking and dwindling upside it's getting to the point where it may not be worth doing.

i*maginate said...

There is no central location or site to learn about laws or regulations when it comes to opening / running a business, and if someone does tell you something, chances are the next person will tell you something totally different.


It's called "nouveau transparency"



A personal favorite is driving all over the UAE to get something done, just an example not business related. To register at the hospital to have a baby they need an attested copy of my marriage certificate. I have to have it attested by the CDN consulate first, then have it attested by the UAE gov, then I can register my wife at the hospital.


I went from Dxb to Shj to get a replacement SIM card - (post somewhere here on Comm Blog)

This is called e-government

nzm said...

Smith said...

There is no central location or site to learn about laws or regulations when it comes to opening / running a business, and if someone does tell you something, chances are the next person will tell you something totally different.

Absolutely agree with you on this. Even in the DIC Freezone where everything is supposedly more organised, it's hard to find 2 administrators who will agree on procedures. Their website is a disgrace for a place calling itself an "internet city". (And please don't talk to me about the speed and reliability of the internet service!) Documentation and information is incomplete and out-of-date, and the only things that get regularly updated are the new laws which are introduced to squeeze more money out of the clients. As a consequence, the customer gets the run-around big-time.

As an example, we were supplied with sample text which should go into 2 of the numerous documents required to close our company.

Of all the documents, these 2 got the most attention from at least 3 people behind the counter, who poured over them and scrutinised what was written, furiously discussing them amongst themselves.

Only after telling them that their colleagues had actually supplied this info for us to put into the letters did the light bulbs came on and we were told us that it was all ok!

i*maginate: I know that you're being tongue-in-cheek with your comments, but whatever you call it, it's a disaster in every way!

secretdubai said...

I know of plenty of people that still want to work in Dubai. They tend to be younger, less worldly people who see it as one big party city. Which to some extent it can be.

But I am hearing more and more doubts from older, more worldly businesspeople about Dubai.

Lirun said...

while i had opportunities presented a few times.. the deal with the jailing of my friend's friend who had allegedly entered dubai with two poppy seeds on the heels of his shoes.. and the saga with the amorous brits (so unusual anyway).. as well as a few other reasons including the state of the subcontinental workers and the environmental impact - for me at least - are huge deterrants..

Anonymous said...

I was working in a construction company that has been functioning for 33 years in UAE, special grade; however, after so many years, this company is trying to sell and leave due to the high costs. In the 90s there was a recession, the company maintained its overhead due to the low cost of living at that time, yet incurred loses.Since 2004 ie. during the boom,the company suffered from sudden rise of building material,rents & other expenses most, projects ended up break even or huge loses.
Moreover, now its even worse many developers, are not able to finance their jobs and stopped the work. What happened!!!? Is that the company purchased huge amounts of building material put so much money on employees and even took loans, so how is it going to cover all this?!!!This boom turned out to be a loss instead of a profit. Now they are trying to get jobs but very difficult, implies management are fedup and planning to sell if they find a buyer.Many companies of the same calliber sold out;however, during the boom due to the worry from this uncontrollable inflation,yet there are some other companies that were not affected, and made profit.

B.D. said...

Interesting question. My response is as a professional not an investor. Actually, not even as a professional--I'm not here for my job--I'm here because I want to be here and my job is what I do to make that possible.

For me, it's stay in Dubai. Every place has its ups and downs, and it's not always about making money. I used to live in Hawaii, but don't want that now--it's too off the beat and path and laid back for me. I used to live in Japan, but I'd say its too homogeneous. I used to live in Sri Lanka, but there's the economic stagnation due to years of war downgrades everything.

I live here with 4 hours drive-commute daily, and a wait that will be at least 5 years before I can get into a flat I've been purchasing.

Despite that, Dubai is the place for me. It is evolving and developing in exciting ways. It isn't all about the money or personal circumstances in the moment. I am here to be a part of what seems to be one of the most fascination urban phenomena of the 21st century.

I just heard, for example, a lifelong expat in Mumbai talk about his love for the city despite the tragic news of the day and despite the many woes that city must have. There are expats, of every nationality, who choose to live in other places for a myriad of reasons. Although I hear it a million times--people are here for the money--the reality is that most people aren't that simplistic. I even know laborers who are here for more than economic reasons.

Editor said...

My good news is that the commercial rents are going south and the payment conditions are becoming more flexible during the last 3-4 months. It's just a matter of time the rental market to reflect the property (sale/resale) market. In a long term the supply will force the rents further down.

As for the cost of setting up a company, it's not justified and in my opinion it's better to operate from overseas, upon contacts only.

Editor said...

upon contracts

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

while i had opportunities presented a few times.. the deal with the jailing of my friend's friend who had allegedly entered dubai with two poppy seeds on the heels of his shoes.. and the saga with the amorous brits (so unusual anyway).. as well as a few other reasons including the state of the subcontinental workers and the environmental impact - for me at least - are huge deterrants..

Funny how none of those reasons actually affect YOU.

steve said...

Started a business 3 months ago with a partner who grew up here- an online business brokerage to buy and sell businesses in the UAE (www.capitalstreet.net). Btw, there are a lot more people trying to sell now than back in Jan when we started tracking. Bunch of different reasons, but high costs are a big issue.

Personally, think it is a good place to invest in a business over a 3+ year timeframe. Probably nowhere is a good place in the next year. Suck up the ridiculous rents now, knowing they're dropping fast and ard.

High rents are tough for entrepreneurs. 1 year rent cost more than my first house. That sucks, but then I can't expand rapidly paying mid-level people $30k-$40k a year just for housing.

But cut rents in half, where I expect the market will be in 2 years, and many businesses will expand, bringing new people in.

I agree with NZM and others, the bureaucracy is a major hassle and randomly counterproductive. 50k AED in start-up costs for what would cost 2k in the US. Of course, no income tax or tax bureaucracy is a plus.

But then random harassment- for example, we were thinking about using Etisilat for web hosting until we found the standard government requirement for a "non-objection letter", incorporation papers, etc. The sheer stupidity of an ostensibly commercial WEB HOSTING operation requiring such documents sent us searching elsewhere.

The coming wave will wipe out real estate speculators (good), but will seriously disrupt the economy in the short-run (bad). But at the end of the day, the mass amount of construction already in the pipeline guarantees growth in population.

Any business built around serving the local population (other than selling real estate) will be successful in the mid/long run.

Happy UAE National day!

Anonymous said...

Dubai and the UAE are still GOOD for me.

Why? Because I believe business will start picking up by mid February 2009.

Why mid February? Because people have to get on with their lives and it will be around that time when the adrenaline starts to flow in the system?

What about the crisis? The crisis will affect two kinds of businesses. One: Those who have gone out on a limb with their project financing without having the cash in the kitty. Two: Those who depend heavily on bank borrowings for operational expenses. (Any crooks have been left out of the equation.)

What about the banks? Banks will suffer more if they go the same way as before.

Which is? Trying to make profits beyond reasonable banking business allows.

How should they go? Back to basics. Forget pushing people to take loans because the banks want to make money. Let Las Vegas handle hedging and derivatives and stuff.

What else? Sound management and HR policies will be key.

And? Am renewing my licence, going home on holiday and coming back to pitch into the recovery, but...

But? If the sewage workers, security staff, taxi drivers, supermarket staff, and other infrastructure workers are being laid off, then reluctantly I'd have to head home too. Till then, I'm game for a recovery push.

This is a nice country.

Anonymous said...

Dubai and the UAE are still GOOD for me.

Why? Because I believe business will start picking up by mid February 2009.

Why mid February? Because people have to get on with their lives and it will be around that time when the adrenaline starts to flow in the system?

What about the crisis? The crisis will affect two kinds of businesses. One: Those who have gone out on a limb with their project financing without having the cash in the kitty. Two: Those who depend heavily on bank borrowings for operational expenses. (Any crooks have been left out of the equation.)

What about the banks? Banks will suffer more if they go the same way as before.

Which is? Trying to make profits beyond reasonable banking business allows.

How should they go? Back to basics. Forget pushing people to take loans because the banks want to make money. Let Las Vegas handle hedging and derivatives and stuff.

What else? Sound management and HR policies will be key.

...? Living conditions need to be affordable too, particularly rents.

And? Am renewing my licence, going home on holiday and coming back to pitch into the recovery, but...

But? If the sewage workers, security staff, taxi drivers, supermarket staff, and other infrastructure workers are being laid off, then reluctantly I'd have to head home too. Till then, I'm game for a recovery push.

This is a nice country.

Anonymous said...

The whole construction & development industries that are the two major industries in this country depend on bank facilities & loans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Anonymous said...

NO. And No. Will not accept a job offer there, nor will I start a business in Dubai. Have done both, the city sucks, offers terrible quality of life if you ask me, horrible weather, lack of transportation if your car is down, and of course the most superficial people I have ever met anywhere. The whole city is like living in a hotel.

And read the above posts, it is self explanatory. It is as if getting a nice place to stay ( which is a given if you were decently educated and have a decent job in any decent city) is such a big shit in Dubai. There are more important things in life than finding a 2 bed apartment in Dubai. Somebody said people come for dollars and lifestyle.The dollars are not there anymore. And you have no idea of what the definition of lifestyle is either.

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