Annual Migration

It’s that time of year when western expats living in Abu Dhabi are making the decision on whether they should stay or go.     June sees a natural end in the expat year as schools finish and 90% of wives and children escape the excessive summer heat and depart Abu Dhabi for greener pastures during the summer months.    

The 10% that choose to not to home during summer months, usually fall equally into two brackets,  they are either in the first flush of love and cannot bear to be apart for eight weeks or they have done the whole visiting family thing and turned more than a little bitter regarding their motherland, granny and relatives in general.  The first flush bracket boast the distinct lack of traffic on the roads and how close they become as a family over a long relaxing summer while the bitter about homers, retreat to their summer house in Phuket .

Out of the 90% of families that leave in June to return in September, only 90% will return to Abu Dhabi.   The 9% deficit may have looked on their term in Abu Dhabi as a pre-agreed term a period of 4-6 years, an opportunity to earn and save money before returning to their native country and building their dream house or they may be moving to pastures new, such as Singapore, Hong Kong or USA.    The returning 81% will have enjoyed their sojourn at home but for financial reasons are returning to Abu Dhabi to either pay back the dream home they built during the boom or to avoid the deepening depths of debt that is coupled with unemployment and poor employment opportunities.

Of that 81% there are at least 25% that say that the coming year will be their last year in Abu Dhabi and of that remaining 60%, 50% say that they will stay two more years.    Ergo, in two years only 30% of the people I now know in Abu Dhabi and that form part of a circle of friends and a community will be left, or else I will!      So adopting this rationale, if only three in ten people that we know today in Abu Dhabi will be around in two years time, and you don’t like those two anyway, it makes for a very transient society indeed and of course this comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Which some may argue the pro’s the con’s, it has to be said that an expat society is by far the easiest society to fit into, as meeting and greeting becomes second nature and ones gets used to the come day, go day nature of friends and colleagues.  There are thousands of other expats in exactly the same situation so it’s hard not to be able draw obvious parallels with other people, often with people that you find you have more in common with than friends at home, besides, if you don’t, there’ll be new people arriving soon.

Of course the disadvantages are obvious, and while one knows the reality of living in a transient and often volatile expat community, it still comes as a shock when a friend says goodbye.   It changes the dynamic of life for those that are left behind and are forced to strike up a friendship with the neighbour on the other side and it’s that, that makes coming back to Abu Dhabi a new experience each September.

So whether you’re in the 90% that are off for summer, the 81%, back for more, the 10%  (5% love birds, 5% bitter birds), 9% movers, 60% one year lefters, 30% two years left-ers or the remaining 30% don’t know and not thinking about it just now bracket,  there is one thing for sure.  Nothing stays the same in Abu Dhabi ,  the sun, sky and sand are always there, but the people are sure to change,  so bite the bullet, make the move, enjoy the company of your friends until June, because in this uncertain world, the only thing that’s certain is change and it might well be a very different place in September.

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