It is nice to catch up with you Ms. Barbara VanPay.
I am sure you are extremely busy managing successful regional/international businesses such as Recruiting Social UK Ltd and Smart HR. would like to hear from you on your extensive experience in Talent Acquisition, Management and Human Resources both in UAE and abroad. We believe that our readers would hugely benefit from the advice you share with us today.
1. Firstly what inspired you to work in the UAE having been in the UK for so
I was actually headhunted by a UAE firm to head up Human Resources for their
operations regionally, based in Dubai. At the time I was approached I wasn’t
looking for a move, but the UAE intrigued me. The UAE had already become a
popular destination for professionals seeking a new challenge. It appealed to
me because – 85% of those living and working in Dubai are non-citizens,
making it very culturally diverse and providing me a change to Western life
with an enriching experience.
The UAE has a fantastic year-round climate that rarely drops below 20 degrees.
Topped with beautiful sandy beaches and lukewarm water, who could resist?
I love to travel and the UAE is perfectly placed to reach destinations such as
Thailand, Seychelles, Maldives, etc
I felt that working in the Middle East, and the UAE in particular would look
great on my CV and serve my experiences both professionally and personally
The UAE does, of course, offer one major financial benefit– no income tax!
2. How do you compare working in the Middle East to working in the Western
Salaries in Dubai are usually similar to or greater than those paid in western
countries. But because there is no personal taxation, net income is usually
much greater, which is one of the major attractions of working in Dubai.
The packages are also structured differently. Packages are split into various
elements: basic salary, transport allowance, housing allowance, medical cover,
education for children and air tickets for home visits.
The working week in Dubai is Sunday – Thursday with Friday and Saturday off,
as opposed to the Western work week of Monday to Friday with Saturday and
In the month of Ramadan, the working day is reduced to six hours that doesn’t
happen in the West. Also, the holidays are different because in the West we
observe Christian holidays, such as Christmas and Easter whereas in Dubai we
recognize Muslim holidays, such as Eid Al Adha and Eid Al Fitr and local UAE
holidays such as UAE National Day.
3. What do you believe are some of the first struggles/challenges that an
expat would face when moving to the Middle East?
Like any major move, the UAE is no different. You have to come to grips with
the local laws, how the visa process works, finding your way around, making
friends, etc But the biggest challenge is adapting to so many different cultures.
With most moves you only have to adjust to one dominant culture but in Dubai
there is no dominant culture. It’s Indian, Arab, Western, Muslim, Christian… I
remember one of my first meetings in Dubai where there were 10 attendees
and 7 different nationalities. That sort of diversity is rarely found in other parts
of the world. Also, you have be very adaptable to accepting others peoples
ideas and approaches to business. You have to adapt to doing things
differently to meet the needs of the local audience. What is best practice at
home, may not always be best practice in the UAE. You need to be flexible,
open minded and culturally sensitive.
4. Besides money (and all wise people know that money comes and goes),
what do you believe are the top ways to engage your employees?
Listen to them. Be there for them. Make sure they know they are valued. Employees want to be part of the solution, they want to help solve problems, they want to be engaged and in return they want to be recognised for their contributions. Sometimes a simple, thank you goes much further than money.