Dynamics of the 'moving' trend from Saudi Arabia

UAE in general and Dubai in particular serve as shining examples of how the right environment for business and enterprise can attract the best talents

By Tariq A. Al Maeena, Special to Gulf News
20:00 February 15, 2014

A local Saudi daily recently carried the laments of the executive manager of the female branch within the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce. She was bringing to the fore several factors she believed were not in the interest of promoting Saudi business and why so many females and males today prefer to take their start-up ventures to the more accommodating pastures of the UAE and especially Dubai.

She claimed that a number of businesspersons were moving to Dubai because of complicated government procedures for launching new projects in the Kingdom. “Procedures between the municipalities and the ministries of commerce, industry, labour and Civil Defence simply take a very long time.

This causes delays in launching projects, which causes huge losses,” she said, adding that currently, Saudi businesswomen’s investments in Dubai are mainly in the sectors of media and advertising, marketing, fashion and training.

She said that while the chamber has communicated with several ministries to facilitate procedures, and some issues had been resolved, she believed that simplifying complicated government procedures would take a much longer time and that migration to Dubai by Saudis was not limited to investors, but young Saudis of both genders were also migrating to the emirate for better opportunities.

A female executive at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry concurred. She said that she had received information on a number of businesswomen who had either migrated or were in the process of migrating to Dubai.

“Due to the recent residency correction campaign, a number of businesswomen have faced difficulties investing inside the country. Procedures and directives have increased investment costs, which has driven many to migrate to Dubai,” she said.

Such impediments cause many to leave the comfort zones of family and friends and move to another country. Lama Younis is one such Saudi woman who has decided to seek her fortunes in Dubai. A graduate from Saudi Arabia’s Effat University in 2005, with a degree in Counselling Psychology, she pursued her graduate studies in the United Kingdom and obtained her Master’s degree from Middlesex University in London where she double majored in Criminology and Forensic Psychology.

Lama’s professional skills and strong educational background were determinant in her joining an institute in Dubai in 2007. Lama has travelled across the entire Middle East, providing qualified and expert consultation and educational services.

Later, at Harvard, Lama explored the emotional human vulnerability and the fact that threats to inner psychological stability are as dangerous as physical wounds. Lama has also completed the final requirements for her PhD in International Childhood Studies at Birkbeck, University of London.

Now settled in Dubai, Lama, who is a full-fledged criminologist, forensic psychologist and traumatologist is also the proud founder of Hissah Enrichment Centre — one that is dedicated to the elevation and engagement of adults, youth and children through relevant and innovative approaches designed to empower and transform individuals, families and communities.

Her mission is to enrich interpersonal skills, to develop personal empowerment and to improve social relationships on personal and professional levels for adults, youth and children across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Lama’s professional expertise and an internationally certified staff ensure that the centre is unique in the Middle East and responds to the region’s growing need to provide education, training and consulting in areas related to coping with societal change and strengthening personal and professional relationships in the workplace, home and the community.

Lama says: “Honestly, I chose Dubai for a few reasons. The first is that as a woman, it’s easier to set up a business in Dubai than in Saudi Arabia. There is easy accessibility for all GCC clients. Dubai is also accessible to our employees and the other centres. We are in cooperation with London whose personnel can fly in and out anytime. Also, the market in Dubai is great, as you have so many nationalities who fit into our services just great. And I am just an hour away from home (Riyadh). I can go on but mainly those are my reasons.”

Lama’s account is in line with that of many talented Saudis who escaped the stifling bureaucracy of unimaginative civil servants and red tape that constantly pestered them in Saudi Arabia and chose Dubai as an outlet for their creativity and passions. The UAE is the benefactor of such expertise from an Arab neighbour and it knows how to attract the ambitious and the innovative.

It is just too bad that their gain comes at the expense of Saudi Arabia. I doubt though that any civil servant in Saudi Arabia is sitting up and taking note.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Follow him on Twitter at