Home » Expat Focus International News Update May 2017

Expat Focus International News Update May 2017

Expat opportunities in Saudi Arabia’s public sector curtailed

Opportunities for expats in Saudi Arabia will be severely curtailed from 2020 when all government departments will have terminated their expats’ contracts.

News outlets in the Kingdom are reporting that with 70,000 expats working in the public sector at the end of 2016, the process of job rationalisation will be an ambitious project.Now, apparently, the heads of the government departments have been told to remove all expats by the end of 2020 so only Saudi nationals are employed.

The government’s deputy minister for the civil service said: “After 2020, there will be no expatriate workers in the government.”

It’s still not clear how the ministries will terminate contracts: by redundancy or replacing those who leave with Saudi nationals.

The latest move is part of the government’s ambitious Vision 2030 project which will see the private sector being hugely expanded, and the news comes in the face of continuing low oil prices which is increasing pressure on the public sector.

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Meanwhile, despite restrictions on the age of expats able to work in Saudi Arabia, the country’s statistics authority has revealed there are more than 214,000 expats who are over the age of 60 still working there. Of these, 5,800 are female expats.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker in Kuwait is calling for the government to sack thousands of expat teachers.

The MP says there is now an urgent need to confront the country’s demographic imbalance. Around 69% of those in the country are expats and removing 25,000 teachers will help, he claimed.

Expats warned over wills in Muslim countries

Legal experts in Abu Dhabi are warning non-Muslim expats to be wary of law firms that offer to draft their will in the belief it will not be subject to Sharia law.

The expert says these firms are duping their customers since there is no registry of wills in Abu Dhabi for non-Muslim expats, so claims that a law firm can secure the expat’s assets while living in the Emirates are ‘misleading’.

Instead, expats should request that the law of their home country be applied which is in keeping with personal status law in the UAE.

Best cities for expats revealed

A survey of 47 cities has ranked them for their quality of life for expats based on criteria including cost of living, levels of pollution, property prices and commuting times.

Deutsche Bank says the best city for expats is Wellington in New Zealand, which scored highly for low pollution, the property prices against income, and commuting times.

The bank says expats there have strong purchasing power to make it an attractive city.

Following Wellington is Edinburgh which scored highly for healthcare, property prices and for the best commute times.

The top five is made up with Vienna which came first for healthcare and its good public transport system, though it can be pricey for consumer goods; Melbourne came next and then Zürich which had the number one spot for purchasing power.

The top 10 consists of Copenhagen, Ottawa, Boston in the US, Amsterdam and Sydney.

Expat difficulties revealed

One of the biggest issues for expats who are working away on an assignment is being away from family and friends.

Research shows that 40% of expats said this was their primary concern and 20% of expats said they struggled to make friends while overseas.

The findings from AXA PPP International said that those who struggled overseas, including 32% of the expats’ children, said being away from their support network was difficult regardless of where they were relocated and their nationality.

The research also shows that expats face more barriers when relocating than their children do.

The director of psychological services for the insurance firm, Dr Mark Winward, said: “It’s natural to experience a sense of loss wherever you move and miss familiarity, family and old routines.”

He added that expats manage their changing circumstances differently and the key to a successful change is to prepare thoroughly.

Dr Winward explained: “We know many people who relocate will spend time planning their accommodation and finances but they should consider their well-being as well and prepare.”

In addition, expats struggle with childcare, even though it’s often more affordable, and language is also a major hurdle – particularly for expats heading to Germany. Some also said that dealing with the weather created a barrier, which was an issue for expats heading to the UK.

Expats take six months to settle into a new country

Research has revealed that despite the benefits of expats moving overseas for their career and raising family abroad, it takes around six months for them to settle into their new home.

The research from the HSBC Expat Explorer survey also found that some expats find it easier to move and settle overseas than others.

From their research, 40% of expat parents said their children took longer than six months before feeling at home in the new country, and 25% said their children took more than a year.

Of the parents, 67% take longer than six months and 49% take more than a year.

One of the biggest hurdles is missing family and friends and making new friends while overseas is among their top three challenges. 30% said they struggle to understand a new language as well.

However, it’s also more expensive to raise children overseas, with 58% of expats saying their childcare costs were more expensive than they had budgeted for. Despite this, 60% said life as an expat led to a positive impact on the child’s lifestyle and family life.

French lawyer claims Brexit vote is illegal

A challenge over the legality of the Brexit vote is about to be launched by French lawyer Julien Fouchet.

He says that the British citizens who were denied a right to vote in the 2016 referendum have been denied a voice.

This means that the validity of negotiations for Brexit to begin are based on a referendum which is now flawed and should be scrapped.

He says that the vote is a human rights issue and has collated hundreds of British expat testimonies from around the EU saying their right to vote was denied to them because they have lived overseas for more than 15 years.

Expats in Barcelona reveal thoughts on the city

A survey of expats who’ve lived in Barcelona for a least three months have revealed what they think about the popular city.

The survey of expats from 20 different countries reveals that their biggest gripe is mass tourism.

Next on their list of complaints come pollution, the economy including working conditions and wages, crime, bureaucracy, food and then the police.

Oman unveils plans for expats to buy property

Oman has announced plans to enable expats to buy property outside of the country’s integrated tourism complexes.

One newspaper says the move will boost Oman’s housing market as well as its economy.

It looks like expats will be able to buy one property but only under certain conditions, which means they can enjoy property that costs much less than those found in defined tourism communities.

The country has also unveiled a plan to ease work permits for expats which will see the application process being streamlined.

Irish expats move for love

A survey has revealed that Irish expats head overseas for love rather than employment opportunities.

Of those questioned, 70% of expats are in a committed relationship, usually with someone from Ireland.

The findings show that 17% moved for love – compared with 11% of expats from around the world.

However, 15% moved for their job and 13% wanted a better quality of life.

In other news…

South African expats are to be featured in a new TV show that focuses on their lives overseas. Oorsee features families, a journalist, businessmen and rugby players in their new homes.

Expats who may have overstayed their visas in Mexico may not be aware that there is an amnesty programme in place to help them leave the country. The previous amnesty scheme ran in 2015 and will run again, with some minor changes, during 2017. It’s due to end on 19 December.

Virgin media in the UK has announced a host of international TV offerings with its WorldBox app. There will be TV channels available from France, Russia, and Poland, and this follows the unveiling of channels for Portugal and Spain recently.

Expats interested in starting up a new venture are being encouraged to head to Queensland in Australia under a new programme to encourage start-ups. There is a potential of $100,000 in equity-free funding for those who meet the criteria.

Lebanon has revealed that more than 6,000 of its expats have applied for Lebanese passports so far this year.

Canada says that the maximum age for a child to be considered as a dependent for immigration purposes will be increased from under 19 years to under 22. The government says the move will help with family reunification and enable more families to remain together.

Research in Switzerland reveals that the Swiss believe that expats living there are richer than they actually are and enjoy generous relocation packages. In fact, researchers from the University of Neuchatel have revealed that expats do not conform to a stereotype and generally earn around the same as Swiss workers do.

Expats living in Saudi Arabia have been told that they can only have two mobile phone accounts, with the government stating it is cracking down on the misuse of smartphones by terrorists.

Maltese expats are calling on the government to fulfil promises that will enable them to vote in elections more easily. Many Maltese say they cannot travel back to the country to vote because of the time and costs involved. The move follows a plan by Malta to grant €90 flights home but expats say they want to vote in embassies.

Mortgage brokers in the UK say they are still seeing lots of interest from expats keen to cash in on the weak pound by buying property. They say the pound’s fall makes buying property more cost-effective for those expats who deal in other currencies. One online poll reveals that two thirds of brokers are experiencing growing enquiries from expats looking to fund a buy to let investment.

A new poll has revealed that 69% of British expats will never return to the UK but 72% regularly send money home. The findings from a financial services firm reveal they are happy being expats. Just 21% of expats said they might return while 10% said they would do so.

Since technology is increasingly important to expats, a new survey has revealed which are the best cities for this purpose. The list is dominated by Austin in the United States followed by San Francisco and New York. The findings from real estate firm Savills says these cities have a large number of incubators and new start-ups. In fourth place is London followed by Amsterdam.

Dubai is struggling with a surge in the number of abandoned pets being left behind by expats. It appears that when expats decide to move on, they leave everything behind, including their pets.

Kuwait has revealed that it has deported 2,000 expats in the first three months of this year. The figures also reveal that in 2016, Kuwait deported more than 19,000 expats from the country. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for a $13,300 reward to anyone who reports an illegal expat to the authorities – and the kingdom says employers of illegal expats will be treated with ‘zero tolerance’.

It looks like China is strengthening its laws that will enable its security forces to investigate and monitor expats more effectively while they are living and working in the country. However, critics including the US government say the move could suppress political dissent and silence foreign-owned firms in the country.

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