Move toAbu Dhabi

Ross Barfoot

Corporate Partner & Global Head of Education at Clyde & Co Global

Career progression is one of the reasons why my family and I have stayed for so long because my career progression has been so great. I came out as a senior associate and I am now a partner at an international law firm.

A different lifestyle, a new culture, the weather; there are many reasons why an individual makes the leap to move abroad, but the most prominent factor for young professionals is to explore new opportunities that will enable them to grow and progress in their chosen vocation.

Ross Barfoot was one such young professional who made the big decision to leave home in the UK and come to Abu Dhabi in February 2008 and over the course of 14 years, the lawyer has seen his career blossom in the nation’s capital.

“Career progression is one of the reasons why my family and I have stayed for so long in Abu Dhabi because my career progression has been so great. I came out as a senior associate and I am now a partner at an international law firm.

“In the past, lawyers who would leave the UK would go to the British Virgin Islands or the Cayman Islands. However, the career opportunities in Abu Dhabi are tenfold. I work harder here than I did in the UK but the work that I have been involved in has been fantastic.

“I've been very lucky to be involved in the maturity of Abu Dhabi as a legal market and having to support clients both internationally and locally on how they can do business here, how they can comply, seeing how the laws changed, how clients approach the business and our approach on how we advise them. The experience and exposure to new practices in Abu Dhabi is something every lawyer should wish to garner.”

Joining Ross in his relocation to Abu Dhabi was his family. Arriving as young children, they have enjoyed their entire schooling in Abu Dhabi, an aspect that Ross says should entice any parent to move to the city.

“When we came out here my daughter was nine months and my son was a little bit older. They are now 17 and 15-years-old and they have enjoyed their whole educational career in Abu Dhabi, starting off in kindergarten before moving onto FS1 and now they are doing GCSEs and A Levels.

“As a parent, I have always been very impressed with the quality of schooling in Abu Dhabi. There was a very good number of quality schools before we even arrived here with great reputations internationally. My kids are at The British School Al Khubairat which we were aware of before we moved out as it has always ranked very highly among UK independent schools. It maintains a very high standard and I have and am very happy to keep my kids enrolled there for their entire educational career.”

Outside of academia, Ross maintains his kids have benefitted from being exposed to a multi-cultural and safe environment in which to grow up and has no doubt that his children will return to Abu Dhabi should they choose to experience life abroad.

“Living in Abu Dhabi has definitely broadened their horizons. Not only have they got the experience of living in a country that is not their home, their schooling has enabled them to meet people their age from all over the world. It has been wonderful to see them making friends with people outside their own social and cultural norms.

“My kids love Abu Dhabi and while I think my children will leave for university in the UK, I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to return and work here. My eldest son who is 27-years-old and living in the UK wants to come back with his fiancée. They are just waiting for the right opportunity.”

Having lived in Abu Dhabi for 14 years, Ross has seen many of the changes that Abu Dhabi has undergone with its reputation being transformed from a supposed hardship posting to a destination that expats are heading to in their droves.

“When I first came, a lot of people viewed Abu Dhabi as a hardship posting back in 2008. It most certainly isn't the case in 2022. It truly is a destination. People want to come out here, live and raise families and grow their careers.

“I see the city as being very inclusive and very tolerant. It's a lovely place to live and work and I am very lucky to call Abu Dhabi home for so long.”

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