AN EXPAT PERSPECTIVE
“I lived in Abu Dhabi for seven years and worked as a general manager of a construction company. Setting up a company out there was an incredibly bureaucratic e perience it took us four to ve months to do it. Working in construction was amazing – you would never work on projects in the UK that were the size of those in the Middle East – but sometimes you did wonder, ‘Do they need this?’
“Giving 51 percent of my business to an Emirati partner worked for me. You always have side agreements, and you give that percentage of ownership, not the pro t. We were sponsored by a sheikh, and he gave us all control of the business – as a lot of Emiratis will. In reality, all they are is a name on a bit of paper and they get a retainer or a percentage of the payment.
“Within the expat community, everyone tries to help each other because it’s a transient society. If something goes wrong, you don’t have a family network around you, so everyone is there for each other in both a business and a social sense.
“Living in Abu Dhabi can be like living in a village, it’s such a small place. You could be having a discussion with a client on Thursday afternoon and then on Friday morning you’re sitting around the pool with him having a beer, or bumping into him in the supermarket – you can’t hide.”