I (AFP) - Nearly half the expatriates in the United Arab Emirates are considering relocating as the global economic downturn hits the second-largest Arab economy, according to a survey published on Sunday.
The survey by YouGov, an Internet-based market research firm, also found that 54 percent of the 779 foreigners questioned were nervous about job security. "The shock of the current economic crisis on the lifestyles of UAE consumers has also begun to shift the perspectives of many residents," said the report by YouGov, which conducted the survey between January 20-29.
"Forty-six percent indicated that the current economic climate in the UAE is making them consider relocating to another country," up from 38 percent in December, it said. More than half of those surveyed said either a close friend or family member has lost their job in the last three months, mainly in the real estate or finance sectors, it said.
YouGov said consumers were cutting down on spending and avoiding shopping malls because of the economic crisis.
After a six-year oil-fuelled boom, the UAE " where foreigners make up 90 percent of the workforce " was hit by the global financial crisis, which has caused project delays, hundreds of job cuts and forced many expats to leave.
The UAE, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, has also suffered from a sharp decline in the oil price, which has lost more than 100 dollars since a peak of 147 dollars in July.
Figures released in December said the UAE population stood at 6.4 million at the end of 2007, but that only 14 percent were nationals.
Foreign workers mainly come from South and Southeast Asia, many of whom are low-paid, while Westerners are attracted by tax breaks and a potentially lavish lifestyle.