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Expats Leaving Dubai Is Bad News for the Economy

The population could shrink by 10%, hitting the Gulf’s business and shopping capital.

A deserted restaurant in Dubai's marina district in March.

A deserted restaurant in Dubai's marina district in March.

Photographer: Karim Sahib/AFP via Getty Images

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It took Sarah Sissons less than a month to call an end to 25 years in Dubai. The 39-year-old moved back to Australia in May with her husband and daughter. She first came to the Gulf business hub as a teenager, when her father was a pilot for Emirates,  and never really left.

“Dubai is home for me,” said Sissons, who owned a small cafe and worked as a freelance human resources consultant. But “it’s expensive here and there’s no safety for expats. If I take the same money to Australia and we run out of everything, at least we’ll have medical insurance and free schooling.”