Abu Dhabi and Dubai among top ten cities for digital expert expats

21 May 2019 Consultancy-me.com 4 min. read

A new BCG survey has found that highly in-demand digital experts are also among some of the most willing to migrate for career opportunities – with both Dubai and Abu Dhabi featuring at the top of the international preference list.

In a global poll of more than 25,000 digital experts in 180 countries, strategy and management consultancy Boston Consulting Group and online recruitment alliance The Network have found that workers in the profession are on average more willing to relocate abroad for work – with 67 percent of those surveyed open to such a move compared to only 55 percent of the general workforce.

Digital experts – given as workers with expert-level knowledge in areas such as data mining, engineering, and analytics, both back and front end programming and web development, digital design including UX, and artificial intelligence and robotics and engineering among other areas – are also of course some of the most in demand, with the global shortage of skilled digital talent growing by the day.Top Ten Most Attractive Cities for Digital ExpertsAs such, and with sizeable salaries on offer, digital workers can often afford to be more selective when it comes to location, but don’t however seem deterred by a hot and sandy environment – with both Dubai and Abu Dhabi ranking among the world’s ten-most preferred destinations. While, oddly, the UAE didn’t feature among the top ten countries, Dubai placed in sixth behind just London, New York, Berlin, Amsterdam and Barcelona.

Abu Dhabi meanwhile placed in tenth – three spots ahead of San Francisco and two ahead of emerging Silicon Valley tech hub rival Tokyo, despite the US being the favoured destination country overall and the survey also finding that digital experts are more inclined toward large employers, somewhat contrary to the popular imagination of digital experts and their association with start-ups.

Forming part of the firm’s Decoding Global Talent survey, which canvassed the work and mobility sentiments of a monumental 366,000 people worldwide, the top city preferences at the pointy end for expat digital experts almost entirely corresponds with non-expert workers (in terms of order), yet Abu Dhabi bucks this trend – ranking four positions higher to push Tokyo, the tenth-most  popular overall, out of the top ten for digital experts.Most attractive destination for digital experts by geography

The strength of the overall findings however breaks down somewhat when taking into account origin countries and the sizeable disparity between respondents in developing economies and prosperous ones, with more than three-quarters of digital experts resident in countries such as India and Brazil willing to relocate for work for example compared to than four in ten from China – which is roughly on par with the national non-expert average.

Commonly, digital experts are also not so keen on moving too far from home, with for example seven of the top ten countries that European digital experts would move to for work being within the region. “When we dug deeper into the data, we also saw that in many parts of the world people with expert digital skills are most interested in moving to a nearby country or to a place where they share the language or culture,” said Rainer Strack, senior partner at BCG.

One interesting quirk of the survey – although the US was the most desired destination overall, and featured as the top destination for those of Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Central Asia (with North Americans in turn looking to the UK and the Asia Pacific to Australia), respondents from the Middle East and Africa in fact voted Canada as their top pick, perhaps reflecting concerns over visa potential and perceptions of a more tolerant Canadian society.