As the social and economic climate of the Middle East is changing, more and more people are moving there for work. They’re finding themselves immersed in a very different way of life, unlike that presented by most tourist brochures. Outside the resorts, away from days spent in museums or on tourist trails, what is life there really like? For some people – those ready to fully embrace the experience – it’s a voyage of discovery more exciting than any vacation.
Coping with relocation
Any major relocation can be a shock to the system that many people find it difficult to deal with at first. If you’re shipping belongings, they can take a while to arrive, so you may well find yourself living out of a suitcase for a while. Finding room for a few familiar ornaments among your clothes can make the place feel more like home. A shopping trip soon after you arrive can help you decorate your new home in your own style while beginning to connect you with the artistic traditions of the region. It will also be a chance to connect with your locality rather than just shuttling between home and work.
Moving to the Middle East will mean having to make some cultural adjustments, especially if you’re female, though not every area has strict dress codes. You’ll need to read up on local etiquette, especially regarding what not to say or do. Beyond this, however, you’ll need to adjust to interpreting people’s behavior differently. You’ll find, for instance, that members of the same sex tend to be a lot more physically affectionate with each other, with no sexual implications, and you’ll find that when it comes to finance, there’s a lot of emphasis on honor and trust.
It isn’t difficult to find expat communities in most major Middle Eastern cities. English language schools are available in some places and you’ll also find social clubs and sports clubs. In some countries there are places with special licenses to serve alcohol to Westerners, but be careful to make sure you’re on the right side of the law, and never consider getting behind the wheel of a car even after just one drink, as the police tend to be very strict about this. If you find a good expat community, you’ll also find yourself introduced to locals with excellent English.
Due to its booming economy and rapid diversification, the Middle East is proving increasingly attractive to business people, with many choosing to live there at least part of the time. If you follow Mukesh Valabhji on Twitter you’ll have come across his tweets about trading in the region and about its value to the investment community. His specialty is luxury real estate, a sector that has been flourishing in the area in recent years.
Moving to the Middle East may be a challenge but it’s also a big opportunity, and many people find that once they’ve made the initial adjustment they love every minute of living there.