Boasting one of the largest ratios of expats to nationals in the world, it’s no wonder the University of Liverpool’s student analysis is reflective of this trend – with 66 per cent of its online students residing in the UAE primarily hailing from other countries in the Middle East, India, Egypt and the UK.
What is interesting about the data is that it points to a trend among these non-nationals to enrol on professional postgraduate programmes shortly after relocating to the region.
So what is it about the UAE and its employment opportunities that demand such a broadened scope of experience and learning?
A massive construction boom, an expanding manufacturing base and a thriving services sector are helping the UAE diversify its economy, and in turn, the region is attracting highly skilled, ambitious and career-focused individuals.
Where the United States of America (USA) was once called the “land of opportunity,” the go-to region of the last decade has been the Gulf peninsula. The economy in the UAE has continued to prosper, while the scope of job opportunities has simultaneously broadened across a range of sectors including financial services, construction, healthcare, energy and engineering. In particular, the oil and gas sector is booming, with the latest gross domestic product (GDP) figures from 2012 showing a 6.3 per cent expansion in oil and gas — the strongest growth since 2006.
Reports from employees in the region paint a positive picture of the work environment, suggesting that not only is it the land of opportunity but that it is also a hotbed for the “super employee” – a highly skilled, ambitious and career-focused expatriate employee who is combining work and study.
What we’ve seen from students enrolled in the University of Liverpool’s online programmes is that this particular type of employee is hugely ambitious; they are motivated by developing both personally and professionally. Lifestyle, salary and success are all drivers but what really stands out is their desire to continue learning. In most cases this means balancing an advanced academic degree with their career and personal responsibilities.
This appetite for continuing education can possibly be explained by the environment they find themselves in — one that is bursting with like-minded peers, many of whom have left their own countries to grasp the opportunities offered by this emerging and prospering marketplace. Like their peers, they have also realised that a higher level of knowledge and expertise is required to succeed.
The Dubai Financial Market General Index was the second-best performer in 2013, and the UAE has been benefitting from billions of dollars of investment into various sectors. The government has set out its desire for the UAE to “be among the best countries,” according to Vision 2021, its ambitious national charter. Testament to its ability to achieve this is the recent announcement that Dubai has been chosen to host the 2020 World Expo trade convention, beating off rival bids from Brazil, Turkey and Russia. Currently there is already $350 billion of active construction projects, and as a result of huge investment in the region, it will be the first time many expats working in management and infrastructure roles will have the opportunity to lead large-scale, big-budget projects.
Those who come to the UAE are here to work and succeed, as evidenced by the popularity of our online postgraduate programmes, which mirrors the dedicated work ethos and culture of success. This interest in the UAE will continue to increase as more sectors grow and emerge, and globalisation encourages companies develop a base in this fascinating and flourishing region.