Reminiscences of a Perma-Expat

03 Sep, 2018 - BCB

As someone who has lived and grown up in the UAE since 1992, it is safe to say I have a fair bit of experience and knowledge when it comes to the region. Arriving and starting my journey in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, I have vague memories of a small city with a few office buildings and sand as far as the eye could see. In 1998, I made the move to Dubai where it was a similar story: Dubai contained one or two hotels, a few scattered buildings, the well-known clock tower roundabout and the rest of what is now ‘the city’ remained a desert.

Now on my drive to work I pass countless 5 star hotels, masses of construction sites and shopping malls so large that you can hire a golf cart to chauffeur you around.  The small cities that I once knew in the 1990s have developed & advanced beyond belief.

At the time of my arrival, the UAE had a population of around 2 million, the majority of whom were locals with a few expats sprinkled in. According to current government statistics, the UAE now has a population of over 9 million. What’s interesting about these stats is that the expatriate population makes up over 80% of that figure. This combined with the constant influx of tourists, has helped turn this region into one of the top destinations world-wide, with over 15 million people visiting Dubai alone in 2017. The region started its international outreach with Gulf Air in the 1950s to around 20 destinations. Now it has Emirates Airlines and Etihad amongst others, which connect to over 150 destinations across the globe. It’s now rare to take a flight back to the UK and recognise someone on the plane!

From witnessing the evolution of the UAE first hand, there is no sign of slowing down. Vision 2021 is driving things; EXPO 2020 is on the horizon and every day in the course of my job I see companies from the UK & worldwide looking to grow their business or establish a presence in the UAE.  As such, I have a positive outlook for the region and look forward to seeing what my ‘home away from home’ looks like in the next 10 years.

If you would like to know more about the UAE, or have any questions as to how the BCB can assist you with doing business in the region, please do contact me at