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UAE emerges top destination for NRIs

A survey of NRIs shows UAE is the most preferred investment destination

Gulf News

Dubai: It has extremely hot, humid and dry summers and hardly sees any rain at all, but the UAE is still the top-rated destination for many expatriates.

According to a survey by Standard Life, nearly half (46 per cent) of non-resident Indians (NRIs) living in the country ranked the UAE as the ideal destination for someone who wants to leave India and work overseas for five to ten years.

The UAE beats Canada, which was the top choice of 14 per cent of the respondents, and US, the favourite of 11 per cent.

The survey was conducted in March 2013 among 300 non-resident Indians whose households have a disposable income of over Dh15,000 per month.

The UAE is a favourite destination not just for Indians but for other nationalities as well. According to HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey 2012, expatriates from around the world are drawn to the UAE because of the job opportunities, tax environment and better salaries.

The low-crime rate in the country, aside from greater financial rewards, is also a major draw for other expatriates like Sharon Pereira, an Indian who has been living in Dubai for nearly six years. “I have reaped a lot of benefits from this country. Firstly, it’s the sense of security I have as a woman — the freedom I can enjoy without having to think twice as opposed to where I come from. I can sleep peacefully with the thought of my daughter being safe in this country, as opposed to the many evils girls face in India. [Also, I enjoy] the quality of life we lead here,” Pereira told Gulf News.

She said their living conditions have improved “manifold” since moving to the country, adding that the harsh summers are not discouraging her. “Summers in India are unbearable, too, however, we don’t have such luxuries as air-conditioned taxis and buses or railway stations. Humidity can wreck havoc to your skin and hair in places like Mumbai where pollution levels are unimaginable,” she said.

Like most foreigners working in the UAE, Indian expatriates have a penchant for travelling overseas. The UAE’s strategic location makes it easier for residents to travel to neighbouring destinations such as Europe and Asia.

The Standard Life study found that holidays and travelling eat up most of Indians’ leisure and lifestyle budget. On average, it is estimated that each NRI spends nearly Dh2,000 a month on holidays or travel, representing the fourth largest monthly expense after rent (Dh5,547), miscellaneous household expenses (Dh3,064) and children’s education (Dh2,278).

If they were given an all-expenses-paid vacation, about 40 per cent of NRIs said they would love to go to Europe, particularly France, Spain, Switzerland and UK. Another 13 per cent chose to go to the US and 10 per cent to Australia.

If money was not an issue, NRIs would like to drive a Ferrari (13 per cent of responses), Mercedes (12 per cent), BMW (10 per cent) and Porsche (9 per cent). For six to seven per cent of the respondents, the top choices were Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini and Audi.