Happiness 2018: Why You Choose the UAE?

What attracts you to the UAE, and what can drive you away..? The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Happiness Survey 2018 ask what makes residents choose to stay in the UAE, and then what worries them the most when they are here...
Happiness 2018: Why You Choose the UAE?
By David Westley
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The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Happiness survey asked what is the single biggest thing that keeps you in the UAE. While the top answers have remained the same since 2014, it is clear our relationship with the country is, slowly but surely, becoming less financially oriented.

More and more of you want to live in the UAE not because you can earn more money and can live in a bigger house, but because you value what the country stands for, and just enjoy being here.

As in 2014 the top answers to "the single biggest thing keeping you/your family in the UAE" remains Standard of Life (19.4%), Career Opportunity (16.4%) and Pay (11.63%). Low taxation had been the fourth biggest draw to the UAE in 2014, chosen by 7.35% of you. Post VAT, that figure has fallen by almost a half to 3.82%*.

While two of the top three answers suggest our attraction to the UAE is, to a substantial degree, still based on the health of our bank balance, pay and career have become less important to residents, with 'intangibles' gaining more mind share.

By intangibles we mean criteria that are not based on your financial well being but exist in the culture or 'air' of the country.

For the most part these softer drivers are bigger motivators now that they have ever been. Examples include the lack of crime (more than doubling to 12.77% from 6.33%), your children's quality of life (up to 9.9% from 6%), and the ultra-intangible that "You are just happier here" (up to 6.6% from 5.9%). Even the weather is cited almost twice as often, chosen by 2.18% of you, and up from 1.3% in 2014.

This does not mean the UAE has become an easier place to live - in fact less of you today think the UAE offers a simpler life than four years ago - but clearly our relationship is more natural in some ways, and certainly more balanced.

The importance of these softer, more cultural drivers can be seen with more clarity when we allowed respondents to choose multiple answers as to what keeps them in the UAE.

Freed from a single choice, "lack of crime" overtakes standard of life as the most widely chosen answer in the survey, while "children’s' standard of life" comes fourth, pipped marginally by Pay. If we were to look at the subset of respondents with children only, the quality of life the UAE offers to our kids becomes a bigger draw than pay. This is a significant and profound change.

"Pay and career opportunities brings you in, the quality of UAE life clearly keeps you here."

We wrote this in 2014, but it is even more the case in 2018.

Your desire to enjoy UAE life reflects perhaps unsurprisingly, in the answers to the question, "Identify the one thing that worries you most".

Job insecurity (chosen by 29.85% of respondents) has become your biggest concern, up from number two in 2014, while "Money, making ends meet", has risen to second (24.13%). Rent Rises, which had dominated the results in 2014 and kept residents up at night, has collapsed however to third place, and was chosen by only 9.72% of respondents, down from 28.39% in 2014.

As with 2014 non-financial concerns fall considerably further down the list when asked to identify "one thing" that worries you.

Education was only chosen by 8.62% of respondents in 2014 and is an even smaller concern today - falling by almost one percentage point. Given the growth in the number of new schools this is perhaps not a surprise. "Legal protection" has also fallen as a concern (to 8% from 10.8%) as tighter regulations across employment and real estate have come into effect.

Despite this, the overall number of people worried about something has increased - from 92.76% of people to 93%. But this is not necessarily a bad thing given people only worry about losing things they value... We also think that having 7% of people "not worried" about "anything" is an amazing figure. Anyone in that position should consider themselves truly blessed.


Happiness 2018 - Four years on, are we still as happy?
Happiness 2018, The Infographic - Key Stats
Happiness 2018: How and Why We Did This Survey
Happiness 2018: What You Choose the UAE
Happiness 2018: Who are the Happiest People in the UAE
Happiness 2018: Property Matters
Happiness 2018: Expo 2020 and Happiness
Happiness 2018: Growing up in the UAE
Happiness 2018: The Changing Face of Expats
Happiness 2018: In Search of the Dolce Vita
Happiness 2018: How the UAE is Switzerland


* VAT was introduced into the UAE on Jan 1st 2018

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