06 April, 2009

Half full or half empty?

A recent poll on expat sentiments have local newspapers split on the proverbial glass:

Emirates Business 24/7:
More than a third of expats in region will opt to stay put

Arabian Business:
One in three expats poised to return home

So what's your take on it? UAE two-thirds full or one-third empty?

15 comments:

Abu Dhabi Blogger said...

In terms of absolute numbers, I would not be surprised if 1/3rd do leave but a lot more will still come to the UAE. The general impression of this place being "immune" in the long run still attracts people from all over the world.
On a different note, far too many people are employed in the construction sector so the number of departures will be significant. I am in the investment banking industry and hanging on by a thread! We've laid off some people, others are thinking of leaving and the remaining have had a significant salary cut.

Kyle said...

First off, I never believe in polls, as they only represent a fraction of the mass opinion.

Second, things will recover all over the world - say a max of 12 months - including the UAE and the neighboring region.

Third, sure! Things will not be the same as they were 12 months ago with the fast-paced development of this country and especially Dubai. Maybe, that's for the best.

Fourth, I hope the slowdown that has hit the globe comes as a hint or a reminder to cherish what we have instead of day dreaming about what we want, majority of it leaning ad absurdum!

Fifth, I for one would love to see Dubai get back on its feet and then focus more on being self-sufficient in all aspects of its daily life instead of depending on others.

Sixth, to address the issue about people leaving in masses or hoardes, I believe it's still premature to predict such and event. Moreover, I hope that it doesn't come to pass, mainly because it'd be a shame to lose the talent that has been the driving force in the development and status of the UAE.

And finally, we have truly enjoyed our stay in the UAE and honestly, we'd consider it a major loss to our experiencing life in this multi-racial, multi-cultural, diversified and colorful city known as Dubai.

Oh yeah, we've had our own experience with snobs & jackasses (within this Community & the real world) but their (negligible) # when compared to good people, amounts to jack!

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

Fifth, I for one would love to see Dubai get back on its feet and then focus more on being self-sufficient in all aspects of its daily life instead of depending on others.

And when was Dubai ever self sufficient? When it was spending money it didnt have or when it was spending Abu Dhabi's money?

Aside from that point, I thought your post was pretty spot on. especially number 4. Or maybe Im just really tired.

Abu Dhabi blogger > What bank/company do you work for? I myself am a banker, and many many of my friends are, and not one has had a pay cut. Not one. I find it weird that you are hanging by a thread when so many bankers are as secure in their jobs today as they were 6 or 10 months ago.

Kyle said...

A Blessing in Tragedy:

And when was Dubai ever self sufficient? When it was spending money it didnt have or when it was spending Abu Dhabi's money?

That's a valid point and I appreciate you brought that up.

You may have your own justifications about 'when it was spending Abu-Dhabi's money?. But it's not entirely true. Yeah, sure, Abu-Dhabi has been generous in bankrolling Dubai. But, it only got on the bandwagon full-time (after the original investors backed out post global meltdowns) when it saw Dubai bloom into a beautiful flower in the desert (similar to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas).

My point is the initial process of transformation was not done with Abu-Dhabi's support unless you know something I don't? And it's not that I'd take your word for it unless you can prove otherwise in a credible manner. For now, word of mouth don't count!

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

I will ask you this. How much oil does Dubai have? Hardly any.

What more proof do you want? For 37 years, the 6 northern emirates have been living off of Abu Dhabi's oil reserves. The federal budget is basically Abu Dhabi handing out cash to them every year. This is not counting the "under the table" dealings that Abu Dhabi has given preference to dubai and Sharjah as opposed to the rest.

It was not PUBLICIZED until recently, and only so because global media pointed out Dubai's bubble bursting.

Oh I know much you dont. I know that the abu Dhabi Finance dept, an Emirate entity, adds 10% of Dubai's share of their budget annually to their total package, and has done it for over 20 years. There is a reason why the Shaikhs in Dubai marry into the ruling family in Abu Dhabi.

Aside from my insider info (that, you have been here a while, you know, could probably never be proven except by those involved) lets look at it logically.

40 years ago this whole country (before it was a country) was a desert.

Oil was discovered... In Abu Dhabi. Yes, Dubai has some, and Natural gas is found elsewhere in the UAE. But Not Dubai nor any of the other emirates have anywhere near the amount that would have been needed to transfer anything.

I'm not talking about JUST the bubble, JUST the last 5 years. JUST about when Dubai started it's boom. A "boom" would have never ever ever been possible for Dubai, or any of the northern emirates without Abu Dhabi.

And when Abu Dhabi citizens of my age (26ish) question this, why oh why has my emirate been basically throwing money into their pockets for 37 years... the answer we get is Oh! we are all one country!

Lets stop that then! 37 years, trillions spent, and what have they gotten? More than they ever could have dreamed of. What have we gotten? An embarrassment, a failure, a bubble, and (the last 3 emirates) hick rednecks that we cant stand.

Nice.

The UAE should have ended the day after Sh. Zayed may he rest in piece died. We (Abu Dhabi) should have gone our own way. Fine, we spend on them for 30+ years, stop it.

No, now that there is even more trouble... they need more money.

Nice. Great return on an investment. And thats what the UAE was supposed to be, and investment towards the future.

But, it only got on the bandwagon full-time (after the original investors backed out post global meltdowns)

Ok, so your logic is the last 5 years or so, Dubai was self sufficient... and now it needs AD's help? So what happened to the other 32 years? were "investors' at play there as well? No, Abu Dhabi's money in the form of the federal budget was.

And who is in charge of said budget? The prime minister... AKA the ruler of DUBAI.

How amazingly convenient!

My point is the initial process of transformation was not done with Abu-Dhabi's support

Actually, the INITIAL (go back 37 years, and for 20 after) was infact done by no one BUT Abu Dhabi.

It wasnt till 8 years or so ago that AD went Oh? maybe we can stop sending our paris hilton money every month.

And now we have to again.

Your whole post acts like you think Dubai was sand and suddenly sprout up in 6 or 8 years. Everything that was planted early on, Jebel Ali, the dry docks, the readying of land (Dubai is a huge salt flat, thats why it drowns when it rains) the airports, all initially AD's work.

Only later on, thru amazing PR and smoke and mirrors, did Dubai turn it's self into a corporation. And it worked... till it was in trouble again.

It's a cycle. And one that benefits Abu Dhabi in no way anymore.

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

But, it only got on the bandwagon full-time (after the original investors backed out post global meltdowns)

Also, to add some logic to your comment. If Dubai was EVER self sufficient, why did it need your so called "original investors?"

You kind of contradicted yourself there. A place thats self sufficient doesnt need investors. Abu Dhabi, or anyone else.

Dubai has never been self sufficient. 1st it was Abu Dhabi, then DFI, the public, then Abu Dhabi again.

And I dont blame those investors who have hightailed it out of Dubai. Abu Dhabi, as the longest investor in Dubai, should do the same!

Kyle said...

A Blessing in Tragedy:

Did you ever think about getting yourself a book deal? Because, seriously you're wasting all that you know in forums such as this one where after its read ends up in the shredder!

You really ought to cash in while it's still fresh in your head!

Abu Dhabi Blogger said...

A Blessing in Tragedy:
I work for an Abu Dhabi-based investment bank with branches in the DIFC and Saudi. Let's just say we were responsible for a large number of IPOs in the UAE up until 2006. I find it shocking that you do not know what's going on in this industry. Our bank laid off 10% of its staff and those still there underwent a 15% salary cut effective until March 2010.
Among commercial banks, FGB has laid off dozens of people, Barclays is currently exercising a 50% redundancy in its Abu Dhabi office, Shuaa has laid off 21 people, Morgan Stanley 11. These are just some of the numbers; being part of the investment profession, we meet company management on a regular basis and these numbers are from the CFOs, if not the media.
The reality is that for us, investment banks, there is zero business, as has been the case since September. So irrespective of how hunky dory things are for your friends, the banking industry is not having a very good time at the moment.
PS Every single employee of EFG Hermes has had a pay cut starting with the CEO who took a 55% hit. EFG is the largest broker and a major investment bank in the MENA region.

Lirun said...

i think this recession is not guaranteed to be short term.. and i think we may find that the world economy - alongside a change ain leadership - does restructure itself on different pillars..

our consumption habits may well change dramatically and as result monochromatic economies may face new challenges..

i wouldnt take anything for granted and i wouldnt under estimate the uncertainty lying ahead..

Anonymous said...

Kyle said...
A Blessing in Tragedy:

Did you ever think about getting yourself a book deal? Because, seriously you're wasting all that you know in forums such as this one where after its read ends up in the shredder!

You really ought to cash in while it's still fresh in your head!

LOL! I actually am working on a book. Of poetry though. I have the 1st 5 printed paperbacks, and am waiting for the hardcovers. I have people proof reading them and I need to submit copies for "revier" so that they can be sold here.

If you know a printer or press, It'd help alot.

Also, I know alot about this stuf because of where my family members work and what they do. Most Emarati families in the same situation have alot of info that dare not be talked about. Fact of living here.

Abu Dhabi Blogger said...
A Blessing in Tragedy:
I work for an Abu Dhabi-based investment bank with branches in the DIFC and Saudi.

But are these layoffs across the board, or specific to those underperforming sections? As I said, NO retail bankers at my bank have been laid off. The Asset management Group and such, that IS a different story. But as I am in retail banking, No, just hasn't happened at NBAD. And probably wont. I am sure, as I said, the asset management sections and real estate sections are hurting, but NBAD is a huge organization, and divisions hardly have any interaction, So I wouldn't know.

You will agree that a retail banker and an investment banker are in no way the same. Night and day, so no, I didnt know how badly those sections were hit.

And not only did no one in our whole domestic banking not get laid off, there were no pay cuts, the annual pay increments were paid i full, as well as our bonuses.

I guess the money cow (investment banking) isnt that anymore. and us "basic/regular" bankers arent so basic anymore. (you know that retail get crap as being inferior when compared to investment or corporate)

Some banks are actually hiring though in this time. I had a 1st and 2nd interview from Al Hilal bank. I also know that ADIB are hiring, but again, all in retail banking.

Media Junkie said...

from what i understand in the stories that are coming up in EmBiz 24/7 and others, retail banking is realizing that it needs to up its game as that is one of the very few places that where there are still customers. people need money and some of the saving plans available are now better than before.

Abu Dhabi Blogger said...

Blessing:
I hate you, dude! :P

Anonymous said...

ABIT - while I don't share any of your insider information, I am pretty sure the resounding vision and success known as the Jebel Ali port was the brain child of none other than Sheikh Rashid.

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

Abu Dhabi Blogger... Why not chance retail banking? Yes, the crap you have to take from morons is a bit on the heavy side (I mean stupid clients) With a background in Investment banking I'm sure you'd be a shoe in. And like I said, Islamic banks are hiring.

Anonymous said...
ABIT - while I don't share any of your insider information, I am pretty sure the resounding vision and success known as the Jebel Ali port was the brain child of none other than Sheikh Rashid.

I didnt say it wasnt Dubai's IDEA. I said Abu Dhabi footed the bill, as they have for all other 6 emirates for the last 37 years.

I have an idea! Huge freezone! ports! But I have hardly any more... Baba Zayed? Can hI have some?

Do you see my point?

Shantanu said...

80% of popular polls published in UAE media are based on questionable sample, questionable data capture methods and questionable deciphering of data. Not to blame the people or companies for that, but somehow UAE certainly lacks the maturity and autonomy of journalism and public polls, that we see in democracies.

Having said that, it's true that construction sector has seen the most exits, followed by senior managers from the marketing and operations sectors. Advertising industry has also been badly hit - me being one of the unlucky ones from this industry!

However, many of the senior managers - esp. from India and similar economies have decided to give it a shot for a few more months before receding to their countries. Not so however from "developed" world economies e.g. UK, AUS, EUR, etc.

Therefore, poll or no polls, some people are going to be forced out just because they have not been able to save enough to sustain longer or are forced to leave the country. And definitely, new entries would be restricted to a few nationalities whose economies back home are even worse OR who have been waiting for an opportune moment to set up business cheap OR who keep their fascination status intact even in these days of recession.

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