Discovering Dubai: So much more than a business hub

April 29, 2024

If someone had asked me when I started my MBA where I wanted to work after completing my studies, Dubai or the Middle East wouldn't have crossed my mind. However, thanks to the people I met during my studies, my perspective shifted dramatically. I realized how ignorant I was about the professional opportunities and quality of life this region offers, which often surpasses what one might find in major European cities. Joining FTI Delta as an intern last summer and returning as a full-time employee confirmed everything I had heard about Dubai's allure.

I’m Alex Sotiropoulos, a 29-year-old Greek, working as a strategy consultant in FTI Delta’s public sector team and, despite it's been only six months since I arrived in Dubai, I already feel like a local. The city's multifaceted offering and its warm embrace of expatriates make it easy to settle in. My experience in Dubai shattered all my misconceptions about life in this vibrant city both as a business hub and a place to enjoy life.

An awe-inspiring business hub

As a Consultant in the public sector team, focusing on Cities & Infrastructure practice, I've been amazed by the breadth of cases we handle and the potential impact they have on local societies. Unlike the cost-cutting focus in mature European economies, the Middle East is a hub of growth and diversification. This environment not only fuels creativity but also brings a greater sense of responsibility to the work you do. Sitting down with state officials to design plans that will affect the next 15 years of development in a region might be common but never gets old and never falls short of excitement.

It’s no secret that our job demands continuous push for excellence, attention to detail, and many times long hours. On top of that, moving from Europe I was worried about the adjustments I would have to make to my lifestyle. Yet, I was positively surprised. I feel Dubai provides a conducive environment for both professional growth and a fulfilling personal life. The three key factors that make this possible are security, social connectivity, and lifestyle diversity.

A surprisingly enjoyable lifestyle

Besides living in one of the safest cities on earth, with a job and a tax system that provides financial security here, I also experience a different level of peace of mind in my everyday life. The efficient government operations and digitalization of processes allow me to plan my life efficiently and many times have been a stark contrast to my experiences in Southern Europe.

Secondly, setting up a social circle in Dubai has been surprisingly effortless. With expats from over 200 nationalities, there's a constant influx of people looking to connect both professionally and socially. This diversity adds richness to everyday experiences and fosters a sense of community even in such a fast-paced environment.

As a byproduct of the above, I realized that the biggest misconception I had in my mind was the lifestyle that the region has to offer. Dubai isn't just about artificial luxury; it's a treasure trove of natural beauty and diverse experiences. From trips to nearby natural wonders to indulging in extreme sports, there's something for everyone. The only challenge is deciding what to do next amidst the plethora of options.

And yes, the summer heat can be scorching, but the perfect weather for nine months of the year more than makes up for it. Plus, there's always the cinema theatres for a chilly escape (probably the only place you cannot go without a sweater all year long!).

In conclusion, working at FTI Delta’s public sector team has been a transformative journey, professionally and personally. I’m grateful for the learnings on the job, but most of all for the people who came along with it and became part of my life outside the office. I’m sure there’s a lot more to explore, and I can’t wait to do so!

Alex Sotiropoulos

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