Straight from the camel’s mouth – what life’s really like in the Middle East for a British expat (part 2)
Nick, 50, moved from the UK to the Middle East in 2011. After two years in Saudi Arabia, he now works in Bahrain as the After Sales Manager at leading car retailer, Jaguar Land Rover. He lives with his wife, while his daughters remain in the UK to study and work.
Why did you choose a career in the automotive industry?
I joined the car industry mainly by accident in 1994. I had a valeting business dealing with local dealerships, one of which – Nissan - offered me the role of Service Manager when it came up as I was good with people and organised.
How did you get to where you are today?
After starting at Nissan, I moved to Peugeot in 1998, then onto MAN Tuck & Bus Commercials in 2001. I spent a decade with the Cordwallis Group as MAN & VW Group Service & Aftersales Manager.
In 2011, the recession was well underway, and I decided to seize the opportunity to try something new, taking the job of Western Regional Service Manager in Saudi Arabia.
After two years in Saudi, I returned to the UK to take up the position of Eastern Regional After Sales Manager for Renault Commercials – a position I’d always wanted. However, after a year of driving 4000 miles a month and working evenings and weekends, I found myself longing for the work-life balance of the Middle East, so moved back to Bahrain.
Can you describe your first experience of living and working in the Middle East?
I got off a plane at 4am in 45 degree heat!
Saudi was a completely alien environment with huge differences that I was not prepared for. However, it proved to be a positive, life changing move for me and my family.
How does working in the ME compare to working in the UK?
I love the fresh challenges of my job here, and the lifestyle is fantastic – especially the tax free salary!
The culture here is quite different from the UK though, so you definitely need to come with patience and an open mind.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about moving to the Middle East?
There are huge differences between countries in the Middle East, so I’d advise anyone thinking about making the move to speak to someone who’s lived and worked in the particular country – not just the region – before moving.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Retired! I probably won’t be living in the Middle East, but that’s not to say that I haven’t loved my time here.