Choose the UAE, says Sheikh Mohammed. Seven expats explain why they did
The United Global Emirates campaign seeks to highlight incentives and benefits offered to investors, entrepreneurs and talents
"Our roots are Arab, our ambitions are global."
That's what His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said on Monday when he announced the launch of a global media economic campaign called United Global Emirates.
Calling on investors and special talents everywhere, the visionary leader noted that the new drive aims to secure the UAE’s position as one of the strongest global economies over the next 50 years.
Watch the Dubai Ruler invite one and all to make their dreams come true here:
We are launching “United Global Emirates”, an international campaign to highlight the benefits and incentives that the UAE offers to help entrepreneurs go global. We invite talents from all over the world to make their ideas a reality in the #United_Global_Emirates. pic.twitter.com/OX6N3kiAoB— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) September 6, 2021
Of course, the appeal of the UAE as a place to live, work and thrive in is not novel. In fact, the young desert nation has drawn millions of people from every walk of life to its shores since before it was established in 1971.
Khaleej Times spoke to seven residents on why they chose to make the UAE home — and why others should, too.
Indian actress Shilpa Shirodkar, who was among the leading Bollywood stars of the 90s, moved to the UAE in 2018 to join her husband who works as a banker. Here, she found a ‘sense of belonging’ she had never experienced in any other place.
“My family and I have lived in various parts of the world, but the sense of belonging we feel in this country was instant... It never left us,” Shirodkar told Khaleej Times.
“We feel extremely happy to live here. Our love and respect for the UAE has gone several notches higher after we saw how the country’s leadership handled the Covid-19 pandemic. It is something to be extremely proud of and I feel lucky to be living in this beautiful country that I call my second home.
The actress said she hopes to stay on in the UAE “forever", while passing on what she has learnt from her time in the entertainment industry.
"My message to all the talented people across the globe is that the UAE is a land of opportunities. Come and explore it. You won’t be disappointed.”
Pakistani entrepreneur Ammar Akhtar was able to set up his own business only after moving to the UAE.
Akhtar is the founder and CEO of Finalrentals.com, a car rental marketplace in the UAE that has now expanded to seven other countries, including the UK, US, Saudi Arabia and other parts of Europe.
“Thanks to the UAE, we are now the first car rental brand coming out of the UAE that has gone global,” said the expat.
After landing in the UAE in January 2007, Akhtar's first project was to create a website for Budget Rent A Car, followed by e-commerce platforms for Thrifty, Dollar and other car rental companies. From there, his company grew.
“People may have innovative ideas and great talents but, at times, you are not able to grow as you are not in the right place," he said.
“The UAE is a place that is already globalised and well connected to the entire world. It is very open to startups and allows anyone to set up their company without much hassle.”
Akhtar added that the country provides the ecosystem required for one to flourish and offers the space to do what one is passionate about. "If you are doing the right thing in an honest way, the UAE is the best place to give your dreams wings to fly.”
Lebanese expat Walid Mansour came to the UAE in 2006 and worked in the Prime Minister's executive office. In 2010, he was given an opportunity to do an MBA abroad on scholarship. After he graduated, he returned to serve the country.
Today, Mansour is an established venture capital investor and, in the last 15 years, he has invested millions of dollars in more than 60 startup companies in the UAE, helping create thousands of jobs and also attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of investments.
“I have really benefited from the infrastructure and support the country provided at every step. I have also tried to do my bit by contributing to the UAE’s economy,” Mansour said.
“I chose the UAE as it is the land of opportunities and the best place to be in every possible way. While other countries have their own fixations and boundaries and are focused on their own narratives, the UAE has a unique narrative which creates opportunities for talented people, irrespective of their backgrounds.”
Pointing to the UAE's strong domestic market, he added that it is a "great launchpad for companies" — not only in the region, but from across the world.
Ahmed Raza is the current captain of the UAE’s men cricket team. His career in cricket stemmed from a love of the game instilled by his father, who had moved to Sharjah in 1972.
Born and raised in the UAE, the Pakistani expat started his cricket journey at an academy at the age of 12. He played for under-17 UAE in 2004 and made his men’s debut in 2006.
“My job is to represent the UAE and I have been playing cricket for the UAE for the last 15 years. This is my home as I was born and raised here and I don’t intend to leave this place — it is my source of livelihood that I would want to pass on to the next generation.
“Being a sportsperson, I feel the UAE offers the best in terms of opportunities and the infrastructure that keeps getting better each day. When people move here, they think they will stay here for a little while and leave but the UAE has gives this sense of belonging that makes people want to live here for as long as they can.”
If you are good at your job, you will be given equal opportunities to excel in it. You will be valued for your talent, therefore, people should take this opportunity of coming here and starting a new life.”
Expat Jatin Gupta moved to Dubai in 2017 and bought a house here the very next year in 2018.
Gupta, who works in the finance sector, said he realised life was good here and saving is important; therefore, it was better to buy a house than spend on rent.
“There are a number of factors that attracted (me and my wife) to Dubai. The UAE offers us quality of life (ease, as well as safety) which is unmatched in comparison to any other country. The proximity, since it is closer to our home country India, is another reason why so many Indians move here.
“We can reach any part of India within four hours. Also the country is a tax-free haven and the cultural diversity we get to see here is beautiful. It has taught us how to stay united despite our differences.
Due to unparalleled growth in businesses in UAE, I believe this country has much to offer along with a rich integrated culture and lifestyle.”
Dr Nadia Najjari is an IVF expert, who is originally from Morocco but moved to Germany for studies and work.
She has over 15 years of experience in tackling infertility and has worked as a physician in some of the leading healthcare organisations in Germany and the UAE. She moved to Abu Dhabi with her husband and three kids in 2013 after receiving a job offer.
“Besides the job satisfaction and the rapidly advancing career I expereiced here, we love the fact that we can live in an Islamic country, which is open and modern as well. With the mosques, food, mix of cultures, respect given to all, the luxurious lifestyle, and the nearby getaways, the UAE has offered us nothing but the best.
“We are so happy here that now we have invested and bought a townhouse in Saadiyat Island...I just got my Golden Visa, and we are really hoping to stay in the UAE for good.”
The fact that so many nationalities live in harmony in the UAE is something that attracted us, apart from safety and security. No other country covers all these aspects, and this is why although we loved Germany, we moved here and it was the best decision we took.”
Maliha Munir Khan is a young passionate student currently pursuing her MBA at Capital University College. Hailing from Kenya, she wasn’t exposed to many opportunities, which made her want to explore a new life beyond Africa.
“Although I was living a comfortable life in my hometown, I wanted to experience a fast-paced life while accelerating my education. I was aware of the UAE’s Expo 2020 and how the country is welcoming individuals from diverse nationalities and cultures,” Khan said.
Understanding the plethora of opportunities in the country, she moved in on a student visa.
“The university was very kind to support me with various internships and job opportunities. While I am still studying, it was almost a dream come true when I landed a job at Expo 2020. I am thrilled to be associated with the most awaited event of the world and being an integral part of it has made me a true UAE resident.”
I am extremely happy to have taken this decision as it offers so many different doorways to professional success. I am certain this is just the launch of my career and I owe it all to the UAE.”
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