Dubai: The UAE and other countries in the Middle East used to be very transient with many expats choosing to work here for only a brief period. Nowadays, more foreigners are staying longer and looking to build their corporate careers in the country.

A study by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) showed that majority of the executives surveyed had been working in the region for more than five years and planned to stick around “in the foreseeable future.”

Of the 68 people questioned for the study, half of them expressed intention to stay for more than five years, while a little over 17 per cent said they would stay for either up to three or five years.

Expats were apprehensive about moving elsewhere for fear that they would get less remuneration, relocate their entire family and develop a fresh support network and social circle.

Peter Felix, AESC president, said the findings illustrate that the “UAE continues to be the preferred destination among employees”.

The workers’ positive sentiment can be attributed not only to the level of opportunities and salaries available in the country, but to the good quality of life and work culture in the area. “The economic conditions in the West have [also] driven executives to consider opportunities elsewhere,” he added.

The survey also found that the UAE’s tax-free environment helped more than half of the employees save between 11 and 30 per cent of their income each month. Majority of the respondents worked in IT, technology and telecoms sectors. More than half (55.4 per cent) were holding general manager, CEO and COO positions.

The survey mirrors the findings of another recent study by HSBC which found that the Middle East continues to draw financially minded expatriates. While expats in many countries around the world are still feeling the economic pinch, those who work in the Middle East remain “relatively positive about the state of their local economy”, the latest HSBC Expat Explorer survey said.

Career opportunities are considered the key driver for expatriates heading to Qatar (77 per cent), Saudi Arabia (76 per cent), Bahrain (74 per cent) and the UAE (65 per cent). Within these countries expats also benefit financially, the report said.

“Alongside high salaries, the low tax rates on personal income in many Middle Eastern countries have helped expats to secure increased disposable income as a result of their move, in comparison to those living in other regions,” said the report which surveyed more than 5,000 expatriates around the world.

N.S. Cubile, who has been working in Dubai for more than five years, said she’s “very much willing” to stay for five more years. “I’m fortunate to have a good-paying job, which I also happen to enjoy doing. The tax-free scheme, lifestyle and cost of living in Dubai are much more ideal compared to other countries,” she said.

However, while expatriates are staying longer, a huge portion of them still feel a much stronger affiliation with their home country most likely because their countries are getting better as a place to live and work.

In the UAE, 53 per cent of expatriates intend to stay and the rest are either “actively looking” or “considering” to return home or move to another country. The same sentiment is shared among expats in Saudi Arabia (66 per cent), Qatar (63 per cent), Oman (52 per cent), Kuwait (64 per cent) and Bahrain (66 per cent).

“These expats have always intended to move to the Middle East for a set period of time, before returning to their home country or moving to another expat posting,” the HSBC report said.