If you are a recent graduate or looking for new job opportunities, you must have at least considered the idea of looking beyond our little island. Moving abroad and gaining both personal and professional experiences is becoming an increasing popular notion among young Bahrainis. Because of the close proximity, similar cultures and ease of access, other GCC countries make great options for Bahrainis to explore. Fahad Naqi is one such Bahraini.

Fahad is an Executive at a Marketing Research Agency in Dubai, where he is responsible for all the field projects in the GCC region and manages both qualitative and quantitative research projects for international corporations. In 2014, he moved to the Dubai for what would be one of the most valuable learning experiences of his life.

We had a chat with Fahad to learn about his experience and answer a few questions that fresh graduates and jobseekers, who are looking into moving to Dubai as their next career step, may have.

First off, how did you land the job offer? What was the process like?

I had just come back from a volunteering internship in China, for which I had to quit my stable job, surprising many of my friends and family. The internship was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and never regretted it. Once I was back, I was unemployed and looking for jobs for a good amount of time until one of my friends mentioned an opportunity in Dubai that she thought fit me and sent my CV across. I got a call from the company the very same day, asking me to fly to Dubai for an interview. After an intense one and a half hour of interview, they called me back the next day telling me that I’ve got the job.

For Bahrain graduates who are considering moving to Dubai, what should they know before they make that decision?

Living in Dubai is not as glamourous as you may think it is and the lifestyle is quite expensive compared to Bahrain. Settling in was tough and took a while. You would need to have some sort of capital before making the move for some upfront expenses.Make sure you don’t go for the luxury but because you actually love the job you’d be doing.

The best advice I have for people looking for jobs is keep yourself busy and be active. Start clubs, join societies, establish connections wherever you can. Companies REALLY do care about your extracurriculars. No company asked me about my studies, NOT ONE. But they all asked about my extracurriculars and personal development.

I would recommend joining smaller companies as there is more scope for growth, learnings, challenges and opportunities for mentorship. And lastly, only make that decision if what you are offered there is better than what you could get here.

How is working in Dubai different from Bahrain in terms of work environment and culture?

The companies are very direct and upfront in terms of the work conditions and packages offered from the get go. Work environment over there is a lot more professional. The standards for work and expectations are quite high. The pace of things is a very fast and you are expected to get things done and constantly do your best. It is very competitive. Work life is amazing, with a lot of opportunities for growth and learning. You get to really network with important people and the ‘who’s who’ as many international company have their main offices in Dubai. You can make some really good connections to help progress your career. Having worked in Dubai also changes people’s perspective of you as a professional. You learn to make things happen and run to and grab opportunities as you see them.

Did you experience any sort of culture shock? What should Bahrainis know about settling in there?

The fast pace of life and work and how quickly things move was very different from what we are used to here. It sometimes seems soulless compared to Bahrain’s warmth.You need to know that if you move to Dubai, 80% of your life would be work. So you really have to consider if you want your life to be mainly committed to work. The lifestyle is quite individualistic and materialistic. I don’t think anybody that is family oriented, cares about family life and culture can stay in Dubai for a long term. Meeting people and building a social network would take some time but there is a huge Bahraini community.

Najma Ghuloom

A curious mind and a wandering soul, in love with the idea that learning never stops. Constantly on the lookout for stimulating ideas and transformative thoughts. A great believer in the potential of enlightened human lives and currently trying to make that happen through Majra.

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