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Articles

New Zealand > Articles

New Zealand

Enjoy Awesome Activities on New Zealand's South Island

Saturday May 18, 2013 (23:02:20)
Kaikoura coastline
New Zealand's South Island, though referred to as the "Mainland", should not be confused with other land masses that bear that name: we tend to associate that term with the most populous areas of any given country, and the South Island is certainly not that (less than a fourth of New Zealand's total population lives here, despite the South Island covering a third more space than the North Island).

The island largely enjoys a temperate climate (though with winter and summer months being the opposite of what residents of the Northern Hemisphere expect), though a variety of different weather conditions lead to both a diversified terrain and diversified lifestyles among the South Island inhabitants. Though there are plenty of opportunities on this picturesque isle for doing business, its main selling point may be the opportunities it presents for leisure and adventure.   more ...

Portugal > Articles

Portugal

Is the Algarve a Good Choice for Expat Professionals?

Saturday May 18, 2013 (22:54:06)

The Algarve's name originates from the Arabic Al-Gharb, meaning "The West", though travelers from the Western world will recognize it as the southernmost portion of Portugal. When placed on the world stage, the region has plenty to be proud of. For one, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations within Europe: this is an honor it has held since at least the 1980s, and the result of a steady accrual of fame that began when tourism in Portugal shifted away from the traditional thermal spa towns.

The Algarve's tourist numbers quintupled over the period from 1950-1960, and by 1986 it was reported as "the fifth largest net earner from foreign tourism in Western Europe" (and still being advertised, ironically enough, as the "best kept secret in Europe" despite this surge in popularity). The region's geographic position makes it convenient for day trips by Spanish shoppers, whose tightening purses may keep them from going further afield on holidays, and the earlier governmental decision to rename the region "the Allgarve" pointed to its ongoing efforts to court English-speaking visitors from the UK and elsewhere. If we zoom in on a specific region of the Algarve - Vilamoura - we find Europe's largest luxury tourist complex and marina.   more ...

Saudi Arabia > Articles

Saudi Arabia

Coping with the Extreme Heat in Saudi Arabia

Saturday May 18, 2013 (17:55:37)

Most of us are probably not under any illusions about weather conditions in Saudi Arabia, and know that living in a desert climate means dealing regularly with some of the most extreme temperatures that the sun can deliver. How extreme, you might ask? Well, the city of Riyadh once reported a record high of fifty-six degrees Celsius, which eclipsed even the daunting record of 51°C set in 1956 (specifically within Dhahran, along the Arabian peninsula).

Over the course of this millennium, in which every single year from 2001-2012 has featured in the top fourteen "hottest years on record" as determined by NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], much of the world has become accustomed to bracing levels of warmth. Yet even those of us who have experienced these temperature anomalies may be skittish about the normal weather conditions in Saudi Arabia.   more ...

South Africa > Articles

South Africa

Dealing with Crime in South Africa as an Expat

Saturday May 18, 2013 (17:24:46)
Johannesburg, South Africa
In 2010, South Africa quietly snuck into that group of developing economies formerly known as the BRIC nations [an acronym formed from Brazil, Russia, India, China], appending an "S" to the end of "BRIC" in the process. The World Bank's report on GDP in the following year places South Africa 27th out of 193 countries surveyed, and the nation currently accounts for a staggering fourth of the resource-rich African continent's total GDP. The country's economic viability in the post-apartheid era is becoming the subject of more and more high-profile discussions, with its mineral-laden terrain and busy mining industry remaining highly profitable. A new influx of professional expatriates to the country from Europe, Asia and the Americas seems highly likely.

However, expatriates' first encounter with South Africa in the popular media may focus on decidedly different metrics of national health and prosperity. Take, for example, the Academy Award-winning 2005 film Tsotsi, shot on location in Johannesburg, whose action centers on a young street hooligan who accidentally kidnaps a woman's baby in a car theft gone horribly awry. This film, complemented by similar studio films and amateur documentaries, shines an uncomfortably glaring light on the problems challenging any long-term goals for South African prosperity.   more ...

New Zealand > Articles

New Zealand

Current Employment Opportunities in New Zealand

Saturday May 18, 2013 (17:08:15)

Despite New Zealand's limited manufacturing and IT sectors, the country has much to recommend it as a workplace: whatever the local portrait of economic diversity may be, New Zealand was rated by the International Herald Tribune as the "most business-friendly country in the world", and more recently as number three in the World Bank's "Ease of Doing Business" rankings (edged out only by Singapore and Hong Kong). New Zealand workers' salaries are fairly competitive, with the average hourly wage in the private sector being $25.42 in local currency, and average weekly earnings of around $1,320. Many other economic indicators for New Zealand are also very positive, such as last year's 7% reduction in the number of unemployed (a number which places it among the best of the developed nations).

However, factors such as the cost of living and lack of obstructions to commerce are not the only draws to the country, and few "Kiwis" would make these the only items on a list of the best things about New Zealand life. One of New Zealand's most lucrative industries - tourism - will probably hint at another reason that many see it as a great country to relocate to. The islands' stunning natural beauty, and the local commitment to stewardship of this environment, are in a class all of their own.   more ...

Greece > Articles

Greece

Evaluating the Current Financial Situation in Greece

Saturday May 18, 2013 (16:59:49)

It is truly tragic that, in a few short years, Greece has shifted in the public imagination from being the birthplace of democracy and timeless philosophical inquiry to being called a "broke" nation, and being cited as a prime example of the socio-political fractures in the Eurozone. Since the 2010 rise of Greece's national debt to nearly twice the Eurozone average, and the subsequent degradation of Greece's government debt to 'junk bond' status in 2010, things have not been particularly rosy for the country's finances, prompting serious skepticism among foreign investors and potential professional migrants to the area.

In the wake of this crisis, talk about Greece's abandoning the Eurozone eventually became so common that the witty portmanteau "Grexit" [pairing "Greece" and "exit"] was even coined as a shorthand description for this situation (and the mere popularization of the idea prompted many to withdraw their Euro currency from Greek banks). The status of Greece as a continental pariah - just read any of the German Bild Zeitung tabloid's recent editorials for lurid proof of this - has also not helped since other regions seen as being under Greek influence, specifically Cyprus, are seen as repeating many of the same mistakes. As of late 2012, in the wake of the second EU financial 'rescue package', Greece's GDP growth was at negative 1.8%, while the budget balance was at minus 5.4% of the GDP.   more ...

Saudi Arabia > Articles

Saudi Arabia

Bringing Your Partner With You When Working in Saudi Arabia

Saturday May 18, 2013 (16:39:21)

Saudi Arabia hosts at least two of the world's most profitable industries (oil refinement and production), and as such it is regularly in need of foreign expertise in these fields. Expat professionals, who have secured work in Saudi Arabia, though this may present the opportunity of a lifetime for them, should be aware that full integration into Saudi society may not be on the table. Though Saudi Arabia is not technically a theocracy like Iran or the Vatican (in that the king is the sovereign rather than the leader of the priestly caste), it is nonetheless a country built upon strict Islamic principles, in which separate resort-style compounds house workers from non-Islamic nations, and letters of approval are needed for trips of 10km outside of a major city.

Though day-to-day living within the expatriate compounds is a world away from that of Saudi nationals (these enclaves are also generally ignored by the muttawah or clerical police), some aspects of the country's dominant religious conservatism will come into play when entering the country.   more ...

Panama > Articles

Panama

Morning Time In Puerto Armuelles, Chiriqui, Panama

Monday May 13, 2013 (23:37:57)

by Ric Falgout

I wake up to the songs of the small area of rain forest adjacent to my back yard. The tropical song birds are my 6:00 a.m. wake up call. No more do I hear the sounds of the city that I left behind in the U.S.A. Here life dances to the beat of a different drum.

My first task is to let our five English Springer Spaniels greet the morning. They hit our acre size yard at full speed and after taking care of their morning business they make a bee-line to the avocado tree to see if any have fallen during the night. It seems that my English Springer Spaniels have a taste for avocado, mango, and coconut.   more ...

Bulgaria > Articles

Bulgaria

Doing Business in Bulgaria (With a Chainsaw)

Monday May 13, 2013 (18:54:19)

I'd bought 8 houses in this village 80 minutes drive from city Sofia. The agent takes me to meet our new local security guy who will also be foreman of the five men who will clean up the houses & gardens. Mico. Huge, square, ugly & scary. Ex paratroop sergeant. Looks a real b*****d. Very glad I'm not working for him. I agree to pay for a large chainsaw - over 400 euros.

3 weeks later - agent collects me from my hotel in city Sofia. Really small fellow with him, wearing a massive denim jacket with the sleeves turned up. No English. Sits in the back. 'Who's this?' 'Here is Hristo. He is Bulgarian powerlift champion at his weight. 7th in world. I was his trainer' I turn round. The little guy smiles shyly, knowing we are talking about him and takes off his jacket - amazing arms like big legs.'I could not explain on phone. We have problem. Mico is drinking all day with the men. No work. But we will sort it out and get chainsaw back. You do not have to be involved.'   more ...

Belgium > Articles

Belgium

Working for the EU in Brussels

Sunday May 12, 2013 (00:56:22)

Although the European Union has not formally declared a capital city, the degree to which "Brussels" has become shorthand for "EU" should tell us much of what we need to know about the city's relation to that expanding federation of states. The history of Brussels' assent to this lofty position is a long and convoluted one, stretching back to the post-World War II Brussels Treaty / mutual defense pledge signed by the Benelux nations, the U.K. and France. In the 1950s, when Luxembourg remained the seat of the nascent EU, the Common Assembly (now the European Parliament) still convened in Strasbourg. Indeed, much jousting back and forth between Strasbourg and Brussels occurred in the 1960s before the 1965 Merger Treaty combined the European Economic Community and two other energy-related governing bodies into one union.

Today, the city of Brussels owes much of its economic success to its hosting of the EU facilities, as well as its indisputably international character: almost half of all Brussels residents hail from other EU member states outside of Belgium, due to either employment with the EU proper or with the numerous businesses and services that profit from its presence. Plenty of staff must be on hand for the international schools that serve the needs of EU functionaries' children, while business hotels are similarly busy.   more ...