Learn about why professionals are moving overseas and where they are choosing to go.

What is an expat?

An expatriate (or expat) is a person who lives temporarily or permanently outside their native country. Most commonly the phrase expat refers to skilled labour or professionals taking work opportunities outside their domestic countries. The United Nations ‘International Migration Report’ 2017 found 74% of all international migrants (also known as expats) to be of working age.


Why are the numbers of expats increasing?


The UN’s International Migration Report predicted there were approximately 258 million international migrants at the end of 2017, an increase of 49% since 2000. The data shows the numbers of expats are rapidly increasing worldwide which is primarily due to globalisation.

Globalisation is the process by which the world is becoming more integrated, the increasing communication between people, companies, and governments worldwide has connected countries across the globe. Globalisation involves the trade of goods, services, capital, data, technology and people. As globalisation has increased over the past 50 years so have the number of expats, and while this is not the only contributing factor, it is a major one.


Where are the most popular destinations for expats


  • Asia: 80 million expats

  • Europe: 78 million expats

  • North America: 58 million expats

Other continents receive fewer expats such as Africa (25 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (9.5 million expats) and Oceania (8.4 million).


Dubai as a popular expatriate destination


Dubai is the largest city in the UAE and is known as the business hub of the Middle East. Dubai attracted global attention through large infrastructure development projects, such as the Burj Khalifa and its oil trade. Less than 5% of revenue now comes from oil. Instead, income is generated mainly from tourism, real estate, financial services, and aviation. Dubai has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies which has attracted many businesses to its eastern shores. With these businesses, there has been an influx of expatriate labour to Dubai from across the world. Liberal visa policies coupled with no personal or corporate income tax are some of Dubai’s major pull factors. There are however more incentives to consider when considering relocating to Dubai:

  • Strategic Location –The UAE is amidst one of the world’s wealthiest regions, there are about 1.5 billion people in these prosperous neighbouring regions, and well-established trading links provide Dubai with access to these markets. As well as having easy access to markets Dubai is also very accessible via trading routes, it served by over 120 shipping lines and linked via 85 airlines to over 130 global destinations.

  • Political and Economic Stability – Dubai is part of the UAE which has low crime rates and a politically stable environment. There exchange rate between the US Dollar and the UAE Dirham also remains steady at approximately (US$1.00 = AED 3.678) providing the bonus of monetary stability to the country.

  • Open and Free Economic System – The economy in Dubai has been kept open with minimal government regulation of the private sector to attract investors, businesses and expatriates which has been massively successful. One of the most obvious pull factors to Dubai is the absence of direct taxes on personal income or corporate profits (except for oil companies and branches of foreign banks).

  • World Class Infrastructure and Service Sector – Dubai has invested heavily in transport, telecommunications, energy and industrial infrastructure resulting in one of the best infrastructures worldwide.

  • Competitive Cost Structure– Dubai attracts many international companies due to their unique cost advantages which are not generally available internationally. These include:


  • No foreign exchange controls

  • No trade barriers or quotas

  • Competitive import duties (4% with many exemptions)

  • Competitively priced, highly skilled, multilingual labour force

  • Competitive energy costs

  • Competitive real estate costs

  • Competitive financing costs and high levels of liquidity

  • No corporate profit or personal income taxes (with a few exceptions)


  • High Quality of Life, Excellent Living Conditions – Factors contributing to high standards of living include excellent infrastructural facilities, low crime, clean environment, tolerance and cultural diversity, cosmopolitan lifestyle, a wide range of consumer goods and services, mild winters and clean, palm-fringed beaches.


Dubai is a popular destination for expats, but there are many other fantastic locations to relocate. Expat Insider surveyed about 13,000 expats between February and March 2017, asking them about their quality of life and to rank 43 different aspects of living abroad. The top five expat destinations from this survey were:

  • Bahrain

  • Costa Rica

  • Mexico

  • Taiwan

  • Portugal

If you would like to find out more about relocating your family or business, More Group is well positioned to advise you on expatriate tax matters, relocation planning, and visa requirements.

Dealing with local tax authorities can be challenging, let alone a foreign one in a second language. We have multilingual staff that can deal directly with the authorities on your behalf. This will allow you to have the freedom to focus on your life abroad. Note: The information should not be construed as legal or other advice as it designed as an information source only © More Group 2018. All rights reserved.

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