The United Arab Emirates, and especially Dubai, has become one of the most popular destinations for Italians looking for a change in direction. Expo 2020, the world’s most important trade fair, is only one of the events on the horizon for this up and coming city of the future.
Here, in this city surrounded by desert, amongst the skyscrapers and new building projects, in this parallel world, live and work many Italians. According to the Italian Foreign Office, by 2018 there were 10.000 Italians living in the city, a number increasing with an annual growth rate of 21,3%.
It is above all young Italians who are choosing to move to Dubai, those keen to climb the managerial ladder, often with specialist qualifications and an entrepreneurial mentality. Many want a future free from excessive taxes and bureaucracy, an environment that is stimulating, cosmopolitan and which rewards intelligence and creativity.
Eleonora is 34 years old. She was born in Pistoia. “In Dubai, around 85% of residents are expats from over 200 different countries. I work in User Experience Research, a discipline which studies the behaviours, needs and motivations of people in relation to the products and services they use, and diversity is important because people from different countries often have different mind frames, expectations and aspirations. My first job in Dubai was for a start-up operating in second hand women’s fashion. Now I work as Head of UX Research for an important ad platform. I manage a research team that works in emerging markets (India, Indonesia, South Africa and Latin America).
Dubai is incredibly tidy, clean and safe. You can leave your computer and telephone on the table in Starbucks while you go to the bathroom and find them exactly where you left them when you return. The same on the beach, it’s normal to go for a swim without worrying about your things, there is always someone from security watching. Public transport costs next to nothing (a tram ride costs 70 cents), and the salaries that managers and professionals earn mean that you can easily save or lead a very privileged lifestyle, it’s up to you. VAT is only 5% and so, if, like me, you are interested in technology you can buy phones and gadgets at really good prices (an iPhone XR costs about 150€ less than in Italy). The service sector is really efficient, you can order your shopping 24/7 with an app and it arrives within an hour, I contact my laundry via WhatsApp and they come to collect my washing and return it the next day, washed and ironed. There are also spas and beauty centres which offer good services at reasonable prices.
Clearly, all this convenience is based on social divisions that are more marked than those we experience in Italy, and the conditions and opportunities open to managers and professionals are not open to everyone. Dubai is a great place to live, but I respect the very valid counterview of those who are unwilling to accept such inequalities.”