Pandemic prompts 'thousands of expats' to bid goodbye to Dubai

Pandemic prompts 'thousands of expats' to bid goodbye to Dubai

Thousands of British expatriates in the UAE have been rendered jobless by the impact of the covid-19 lockdown on the economy, according to reports.

Many have resorted to selling their possessions in an effort to raise funds before returning home, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported this week. 

The paper said that "thousands of expats have been made redundant" due to the pandemic's "devastating impact" on the UAE economy.

It's expensive here and there's no safety [net] for expats."

Expats form around 90% of the UAE's 9.6 million population.

One Australian expat, Sarah Sissons, an HR consultant, told Bloomberg why she is leaving after 25 years in Dubai: "Dubai is home for me. But it's expensive here and there's no safety [net] for expats. If I take the same money to Australia and we run out of everything, at least we'll have medical insurance and free schooling."

Oxford Economics has forecast the UAE risks losing up to 900,000 jobs due to the covid-19 pandemic and its strictly-enforced lockdowns. 

A government spokesman in Dubai said the authorities were considering ways to support the private sector. The spokesman said: "Dubai is considered home to many individuals and will always strive to do the necessary to welcome them back."

Two-way street
Despite the apparent exodus, many other expats are returning to the UAE having spent the covid-19 lockdown in their home countries. Many subsequently found themselves stranded in their home countries, without chartered flights back to Dubai. 

This week 13 Indian expats took matters into their own hands and hired a private jet to fly them from Mumbai to Dubai. 

Mudassir Ali told Khaleej Times: "I had joined a few Facebook groups for stranded residents from where I found a person working at Al Maktoum airport, who talked to me about the option of using private jets. I was desperate to get back and got in touch with Dubai-based Empire Aviation Group, which quoted Dh135,000 (around $36,000) for 13 passengers."

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Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.