08/08/2009 10:51 PM
Abu Dhabi: Singapore expatriates in the UAE said they found a balanced life in the UAE.
"Back home life is faster and stressful. But here, the pace of life is comfortable with all the modern facilities," Gweyn Foo, 27, an analyst in the real sector said.
She attributes the UAE's comfortable pace of life to a family-oriented culture.
"There are not many activities for unmarried people like me, especially in Abu Dhabi. Because everything is family-oriented here. I find people make a wonderful balance between work and family here," said Foo, who has been working in Abu Dhabi for the past two years.
She spoke to Gulf News on the sidelines of Singapore National Day celebrations on Friday evening at Intercontinental Hotel, organised by the Singapore Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Joyce Baz, 54, a trade and investment adviser who has been living in Abu Dhabi for 29 years, echoed the same opinion. "Really life is stress-free with a lot of holidays and free time,"
She saw the growth of Singaporean community in Abu Dhabi. "There were few Singaporeans when I reached here in 1980 and I was wondering why my compatriots didn't come to utilise the opportunities here," she said.
Her friends had discouraged her while she was coming to Abu Dhabi as an employee with a Japanese airline.
"They said it was desert, you had to live in tent and you have to travel by camel carts," she recollects the compatriots' impression of the UAE in 1980.
But, when she landed at the Abu Dhabi airport, she realised it was a misconception, because she was taken to her accommodation by a four-wheel drive. "Later, a booming economy and growing job and business opportunities attracted many Singaporeans. The opening of the embassy in 2008 made the community more vibrant," Baz said.
The UAE is now home to the largest overseas Singaporean community in the Middle East, numbering about 1,200, Low Pit Chen, Charge d'Affairs at the Singapore Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said in his speech at the function.
"There are more and more Singaporeans coming to work in the UAE and taking on senior appointments in government and private sector in diverse fields."
About the cohesiveness of the community, he said, in the past year alone, the Singaporean community had come together many times to celebrate different cultural and ethnic festivals or just found an excuse to get together!.
Chen presented the proceeds of the dinner, raised from the ticket sales and donations from generous corporations and supporters, to the representatives of the Future Centre for Special Needs, a non-profit organisation that runs a school and rehabilitation centre in Abu Dhabi for children with special needs.
Dileep Nair, Consul General of Singapore in Dubai, told Gulf News the number of Singaporeans in the country increased by about 300 per cent in the past four years.
"Four years ago, the population was about 400 and now it is about 1,200. Most of them are living in Dubai, about 800 to 900," Nair explained.
Bilateral trade totalled US $ 9.6 billion in 2008 which was a 21 per cent increase from the previous year.
The UAE is the second largest Middle East investor in Singapore. There are over 200 Singapore companies in the UAE.
The UAE is Singapore's top tourism market in the Middle East.
Last year there was a 24.6 per cent increase in tourists to Singapore from the UAE.