Home » Expat Focus International News Update August 2018

Expat Focus International News Update August 2018

Expat numbers predicted to reach 87.5 million

The world’s expat population will rise to 87.5 million people by 2021, from the current 66.2 million, says a report.

Consultants Finaccord say the largest numbers of expats are living in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Germany, who account for 70% of expat populations.

These countries also account for 8.5% of international students.
The firm says that the growth in expat numbers has been 5.8% every year since 2013, when there were 52.8 million expats in the world.A consultant at Finaccord, David Bowles, said: “The numbers of expats in the GCC, they are mainly workers from Asian countries, has grown at an enormous pace in recent years and their economies are dependent on the flow of foreign workers.”

He added: “In contrast, other countries, such as the US and UK, international students, particularly from China, constitute a high proportion of their expat populations, while the US and Spain are attracting the most retired expats, mainly Canadians retiring to the US and German or British residents heading to Spain.”

India currently generates the largest number of expats living overseas and they are mainly heading to the GCC region, followed by China and Canada.

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As a proportion of the world’s population, the number of expats is predicted to rise from 0.75% in 2013 to 1.13% by 2021.

Most liveable city for expats revealed

The most liveable city for expats in the world is Vienna – the first time a European city has picked up the title.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual survey has put the Austrian capital in first place to beat last year’s winner, Melbourne. The survey compared 140 cities on a number of issues, including social stability, access to health care, education and crime.

The European city that showed the biggest improvement was Manchester which is in 35th place, a rise of 16 places. It’s now 13 places ahead of London – the widest gap since the survey began two decades ago.

A spokesman for the Economist said security has improved across several European cities and Vienna’s top place highlights this return to stability in much of Europe. Along with being one of the continent’s safest cities, Vienna also has a lack of petty crime, the spokesman said.

Second placed Melbourne has been the most liveable city for expats for several years, and Adelaide and Sydney also make the top 10.

The worst city in the survey is Damascus in Syria, followed by Dhaka in Bangladesh and the Nigerian city of Lagos.

Dubai’s most influential expats revealed

It’s home to more than 200 nationalities and now Forbes magazine has ranked the most influential expats in the UAE.

There are 21 different industries utilising the skills of 20 different nationalities in the list and while 30% come from Arab countries, British expats top the listings with eight entries.

The expats deemed to be the most influential are: Brit Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports; Lebanese Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim; Lebanese/American Nabil Habayeb, president of GE Menat; Swiss Yves Manghardt, chairman of Nestlé Middle East; British Atiq ur Rehman, CEO of the Citi Group; Egyptian Mohamed Samir, president of P&G (MEA); Egyptian Takreem El Tohamy, GM of IBM Middle East and Africa; Australian Shayne Nelson, CEO of Emirates NBD; German Dietmar Siersdorfer, CEO of Middle East, Siemens; and the Dutch regional head of JP Morgan Chase, Sjoerd Leenart.

Demand for second passports rockets in GCC

There has been a sharp increase in demand for second passports across the GCC region, one firm reports.

According to consultancy Bluemina, applications have risen by 30% in the last 12 months. However, in the UAE demand has rocketed by 67% in the first six months of this year.

The findings highlight the growing numbers of people who are looking to secure a second passport to ensure a secure future and protect their financial assets.

A spokesman for the firm said: “Having another citizenship can enable travellers to submit one for this processing and having another for international travel and maintaining travel plans.”

The firm also highlights that around 40% of expats living in the UAE have sold their property in their home country in a bid to obtain second citizenship.

The top three nationalities that are fuelling demand for a second passport in the GCC region are Syrians with 31%, followed by Yemenis and Lebanese. The firm also highlights that 83% of high net worth individuals who are living in the UAE and who are applying for a second passport are doing so as families.

High net worth expats living across the GCC are helping to fuel a 76% increase in demand for a European second passport and also a passport from a Caribbean country.

Along with the ease of travelling, Bluemina highlights that growing numbers of wealthy expats are looking to boost their opportunities of making an additional income and dealing with their tax issues more favourably.

Expats continue leaving Oman

It’s been revealed that the number of expats in Oman is continuing to fall, but there’s been a sharp rise in the number of Ugandan expats moving there.

According to the latest official figures, the numbers of Ugandans moving to Oman rose by 30% in the first six months of this year.
However, there are more women expat Ugandans there than men – 31,595 compared with just 350 men – with most of the women flying into the country for work as housemaids.

Oman has restricted visas for some professions and is struggling economically which is affecting expats’ prospects. As a result, the number of Indians has fallen by 2.8% to 672,000 people and the number of Bangladeshis has also fallen by 4.1% and Pakistanis by 5.1%.

Kuwait ends more than 2,000 expat contracts

Kuwait’s Civil Service Commission has revealed that its programme to create more jobs for Kuwaitis has seen 2,140 expat contracts being terminated. The expats’ contracts were frozen on the 1st of July and the jobs will be cancelled in the coming financial year so they cannot be replaced by other expats.

The numbers are in addition to more than 1,600 expat jobs which have already been terminated from the public sector this year, the Civil Service Commission reveals.

Of those, 1,430 have lost their jobs in the last three months, which is three times the number of expats who were dismissed in Kuwait last year.

Expats leave Saudi Arabia

Expats are still continuing to leave Saudi Arabia in ever going numbers, but a backlash is beginning to grow since many are not being replaced, which is leaving a big workforce gap for many employers, media outlets there are reporting.

One of the big issues that is becoming apparent is that the kingdom had hoped that the job vacancies left by expats would be filled by their nationals but it is now becoming clear this is not happening.

A recent report from HSBC notes: “Despite the policy push to create more Saudi jobs in the private sector and reduce foreign labour reliance, the efforts have not been sufficient to meet growing demand for Saudi employment.”

The note adds that while structural change was going to take time, there’s little information to suggest that the issues are easing. It’s also been noted that Saudi Arabia has realised that it needs to reappraise its ‘Saudisation’ programme and it’s looking to revive some of its policies, but there are questions over whether these will prevent expats leaving the kingdom.

Official figures point to 2 million expats leaving the country since the programme began, but media outlets say there hasn’t been a big change in the numbers of Saudis being employed.

These government statistics highlight that the construction sector has been the worst hit, followed by the trade sector, which includes retail and wholesaling activities. Around 126,000 expats have left construction, along with 18,000 Saudis, and 53,000 expats have left trade.

Also, the figures reveal that new expat visas for the kingdom’s private sector have fallen significantly from the 2 million issued in 2015 to just 718,000 work visas being last year.

Cayman's expat population undergoes change

Recent figures from Cayman’s Immigration Department reveal that the expat population there is undergoing significant change. While British and American expat numbers are falling, the numbers of Indians and Filipinos is growing.

In two years the number of Indians has risen by 26% and Filipinos by 17%. In contrast, the numbers of Brits and Americans has fallen by 16% since July 2016.

The top five of expats by nationality living and working in the Caymans are Jamaicans, Filipinos, Brits, Indians and Americans.

In other news…

Delegates of the expat Swiss assembly, the Council of the Swiss Abroad, are looking to put the Swiss government under pressure to introduce e-voting by 2021 for all Swiss citizens living overseas. The organisation is to launch an online petition calling for the introduction of e-voting. The organisation says that often ballot papers arrive too late for participation in elections and e-voting would enable democracy to take place with expats voting while living overseas.

Cuba has announced that it is planning to consult with expats living there on its future constitution and it will also enable Cuban expats overseas to have an input also. It’s the first time since the 1959 revolution that expats have been offered any influence and the consultation will lead to a referendum on proposals to be ratified by the government later this year.

Saudi Arabia has announced it has deported more than 385,000 illegal expats over the last nine months. The Kingdom says the nationwide campaign, launched last November, has seen 1.5 million expats who have violated residency laws being arrested. Also, nearly 1,200 expats were arrested trying to leave country illegally.

The government in Bahrain is being urged to reconsider its new visa rules which could threaten the break-up of expat families. The new rules brought in minimum salary requirements for expat employees who wanted a visa for their spouse or children. Previously visas were given for those earning at least BD250 (£521/$665) a month but earlier this year the figure was increased to BD400 – but only for new applicants. Now the Bahrain Small and Medium Enterprises Society says a smaller increase would have been easier for expats to deal with.

Media outlets in Kuwait are reporting that the government is urging its departments to prepare lists of expats to be fired by March next year. The plan is to make 3,108 expats redundant by this time and some jobs will be occupied solely by Kuwaitis. With 80,000 expats currently working in government roles, the aim is to replace all of them with citizens over the next five years.

The UAE has unveiled its new system to offer visas for professionals and investors that will be valid for up to 10 years in a bid to attract international talent from around the world. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship says the new system will be active by the end of the year and will offer residency visas to specialists in scientific, medical and research fields. There’s also the chance for students to obtain a five-year residency visa and for exceptional students to be given a 10 year visa. Currently, international students must have a visa that is sponsored by their university but once they graduate or leave a university, the visa becomes void.

Not only has there been a big fall in the number of western expats living in Thailand – fewer expats are heading there overall. The figures have been revealed in a survey that was last undertaken two years ago, when expats said they were unlikely to stay. Along with rising costs, expats have been earning less because there are fewer western tourists visiting the country. The survey is carried out by Thaivisa who found that most expats arriving are retirees and not younger workers.

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