In a myriad of ways, the longer a resident stays and plans to stay, the more value he can add to the country. The first year or two in a country, like a job, is full of distractions - settling in, finding your feet, working out how to get things done, organising places to live, paperwork, etc.
After those two years, residents begin to focus on working hard, and playing hard (in itself a driver of the UAE economy given the expansive tourism sector). Equally, if someone can think only short-term, they are unlikely to make big purchases, unlikely to think about investing in a business, buying a home - etc. However, longer term thinking is difficult for UAE residents according to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com survey.
We asked respondents whether their residency and employment status allowed them to plan long-term, plan only one to two years ahead, or they had to plan month by month. The largest set of respondents said they can plan one to two years ahead (63.12%), followed by those who can plan long-term (22.1%). One fifth of respondents however can only plan month on month.
This we believe is an issue for the UAE. A resident is far more likely to consider investing their heart, soul and bank account into a country, if they can think into the future. While someone views their life as temporary and transitory, they are likely to be more cautious in terms of investing themselves into the country they are living in.
To some degree this is very much the UAE plan. As expatriates we are here to work, and when we are done to leave (complications over home ownership aside). However, the UAE also wants those that live in the country to care for it as much as the UAE nationals that are rightly so proud of it. That is difficult if you cannot see your life somewhere more than a few months ahead.
And while people think short-term, they actually stay a long time.
There is a significant disconnect between how long people plan to stay in the UAE, and how long they actually do. Thinking short-term is not about desire - people would clearly like to think longer term.
Approximately 18% of respondents expected to be in the UAE for two years or less when they first arrived, only 9% of respondents have been in the UAE for less than that period however. The biggest chunk of respondents have been here between 11 and 15 years, and a large number want to be here as long again - which makes the inability to think long-term a greater net loss to the UAE. All of this time, the uncertain expat resident will be sending money out of the country to his or her "home", rather than reinvesting back into the UAE economy.
The Happiness Survey – Start Here
Happiness in the UAE: An Infographic
Happiness in the UAE: What Draws & Keeps Residents
Happiness in The UAE: A Reverse Brain Drain
Happiness in the UAE: Money can Buy It…
Happiness in the UAE: Nationality Matters
Happiness in the UAE: Location Matters
Happiness in the UAE: Family Matters
Happiness in the UAE: Females do it Better
Happiness in the UAE: Short Term Thinking