After securing an MBA at one of Europe’s most prestigious business schools, Luke was hoping to earn a large wage from strategic consulting.
But when the 30-year-old Briton returned to London to look for work, he was greeted by a jobs market and economy that felt bleak.
With the UK expected to be the worst-performing large economy in the world this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, a slowdown in global deal making has led banks in the City to slash thousands of jobs.
“A lot of companies are worried about global economic shocks, are cutting costs and seem just generally wary about making offers, particularly to expensive hires,” says Luke, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.
Yet the other region he looked at – the Middle East – seemed to be experiencing few such issues, with one location in particular standing out: Dubai.
Luke has now accepted a job at an international consulting firm paying around £100,000 a year, and hopes to work there for a few years while saving money to use back at home to buy a house.
“Dubai just seems to have a lot of opportunities right now, and you are taking home a lot more of your pay,” adds Luke. “I want to have an adventure.”
It’s a calculation many British workers are making today as they decide to up sticks and resettle in the Gulf city state in search of a higher pay packet and a better quality of life.
For years, Dubai has been portrayed as little more than a playground for tourists and the rich, its extravagantly tall skyscrapers and vast, air-conditioned shopping centres looking vapid next to Europe’s historic old towns.
Yet expats today say the city has matured. And some parents now even see it as a better place to work and raise a family than Britain, where stagnation grips the economy and taxes are at a post-war high.
That includes the very wealthy. Nick Candy, the property tycoon behind the luxury One Hyde Park development in Knightsbridge, this week declared that he was fed up with crime in London and the teaching of controversial transgender issues in schools.
“The flow of capital to Dubai has changed. People are going, ‘I’m fed up with the crime in the countries I live in’,” he told Bloomberg.
“Some of the values we once cherished in Western countries are not the same values that we’ve got today and actually, who would have thought, the value system sometimes is better in the Middle East than it is here.
“I’m sorry to say that’s the case and people might not like that, but when young kids in schools are being taught about transgender and stuff, I just don’t think it’s right.”
Experts, recruiters and schools, meanwhile, also say they are seeking an influx of UK graduates who are tired of London’s sky-high property prices and taxes that can swallow close to half of their monthly pay.
“It’s definitely a push back to what has been happening in the UK,” says Romell Gumbs, of Dubai-based advisory firm Creative Zone.
“People are sick of paying more and more tax on their income, on houses, especially when there has been so much pressure due to the pandemic.”