By all accounts, Dubai is a strange place. It is a city of 2 million people, 90 percent of whom are ex-pats from places all over the world.
Basically built on desert sands, Dubai was created by the United Arab Emirates to become a magnet for all commercial interests in the Middle East. "The vision is how to have economic relevance when the oil runs out," says Larry Harding, founder and president of High Street Partners.
Anyone working in Dubai will make "good" money and pay few taxes, says Harding, but you are also "cocooned from the real world."
What's hot: If living in an artificial enclave doesn't bother you and you want to send money home, companies in Dubai are looking for IT people that run the gamut from cutting-edge skills for fiber-optic build-out and app dev for mobile and wireless. Also, support for ERP applications from Oracle and SAP are in demand.
While legacy tech skills are not in demand, being able to teach IT and implement IT into fledgling government agencies is. Dubai recently launched eGovernment, an initiative to train government workers through online and classroom programs.
To attract high-tech businesses, the UAE's Dubai Silicon Oasis project is creating a 7.2-million-square-meter set of facilities. The oasis is meant to attract companies dedicated to the production of information and communications technologies using semiconductors.
U.S.and multinationals tech companies: From an Apple center to Intel sales and marketing offices, Dubai has become the hub of Mideast global commerce. "Anybody who is anybody is here" is the most commonly heard phrase during interviews with consultancies and tech companies about setting up an office in Dubai.
Red tape: The UAE makes it comparatively easy for people and companies from Western countries to come in and set up shop in Dubai. If you are a U.S. enterprise or employee, it's easy to get a visa, but you need company sponsorship first.
To stay in Dubai for any length of time, you need both a work permit and a residency visa. If you come without corporate sponsorship, you can get a temporary visa while you look for that sponsorship. "When you get off the plane, you will see two lines: the easy visa line for Westerners and a very long line for the others," says Harding.
Language: English is the language of business. Fluency in a European language is not particularly helpful. For example, even the Germans who have a huge presence in Dubai speak English, says Harding.
Finances: Inflation is the biggest problem affecting Dubai. If you were earning your U.S. salary while living in Dubai, it might be too expensive. However, almost all of the major companies offer additional stipends for housing and food.
However, there are no taxes -- no income tax, no real estate tax, and no sales tax -- which greatly increases your buying power. Also, utilities are subsidized by the government.