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The country’s response to coronavirus is a key reason for the result, a new study indicates the UAE has emerged as the 13th most preferred destination where foreign nationals would like to work, up from the 19th spot in 2018, with the country’s response to coronavirus cited as a key reason for its enhanced attractiveness.

In the same survey of approximately 209,000 people in 190 countries by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Bayt.com, Dubai ranked third in the city rankings, up from sixth in 2018. Abu Dhabi ranked fifth, sustaining last year’s position.

“The UAE’s status as being less impacted by the pandemic than other countries is a key factor behind its heightened appeal on the world stage, with several notable cities now considered much less appealing compared to two years ago,” said Christopher Daniel, managing director and partner, BCG Middle East.

“Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among the latest success stories in the global city ranking, solidifying their improved positions on the back of the UAE proving to be a regional haven in a year of crisis,” he added.

For Dubai specifically, respondents cited renewed Expo 2021 potential and the swift restart and support of the private sector during recent times as particular attraction points, according to Decoding Global Talent, Onsite and Virtual joint report by BCG and Bayt.com, elaborating on the study’s findings.

Abu Dhabi’s ranking has been attributed to the government’s commitment to overhaul its processes, the proximity of people to leadership, high government investment, and a new economic development strategy.

Broadly reflecting the composition of UAE’s population, 90 percent of the country’s survey participants were expats with an average age of 38.

“Given that the national workforce is heavily comprised of foreign workers, the country attracts a highly mobile workforce and 94 percent of UAE workers were also willing to work abroad in 2020 compared to 50 percent globally,” explained Daniel.

While there is now less willingness to move to a foreign country globally, respondents demonstrated a high level of enthusiasm to stay home while working for a foreign employer, with 57 percent of global respondents and 50 percent of Emirati nationals indicated they wouldn’t be willing to move for work.

“The job market has witnessed many changes over the past few months. The Covid-19 pandemic has placed companies in every industry under pressure to make the transition to virtual workplaces. As such, the vast majority of professionals and businesses have adopted remote working, enabling them to remain competitive and ensure continuity,” said Ola Haddad, director of Human Resources at Bayt.com.

“Restrictive immigration policies have already weakened the mobility trend,” said Rainer Strack, BCG senior partner and one of the authors of the study.

“Covid-19 is a new variable that is making people cautious about considering international relocation. With the rise of remote working, many may feel that they can further their careers virtually, without needing to move at all,” he continued.