It is time for Hong Kong’s youth to explore a career path in the Middle East

Former broker Chim Pui-chung may have never travelled to the Middle East, but his 22-year-old grandson Oscar Chim has found a niche in Dubai

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 11:22am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 3:15pm

Many youth from Hong Kong love to travel the world, but mainly to enjoy the sights and sounds and to indulge in a bit of shopping. Now it is time they try something more adventurous and consider working overseas to gain some real world experience.

Perhaps in a place other than the US or Europe; something exotic like the Middle East.

Oscar Chim, 22, the grandson of the well known broker and former lawmaker Chim Pui-chung, is among the few Hong Kong youth who have shown an interest in developing a career in the Arab world.

While his grandfather has never travelled to the Middle East, the young Chim is now working in Dubai, the heart of Islamic finance in the Middle East.

This should come as no surprise as Chim was interested in learning foreign languages from a very young age and was enrolled at the Middlebury-Monterrey Language Academy in Vermont for intensive summer language immersion programmes. He started with French at 11 and followed it with Arabic a year later.

He so fell in love with Arabic that he got a bachelor’s degree in modern Middle East studies at the University of Pennsylvania, while also taking an additional course in Islamic finance.

He now works at Americana Group, a major food and beverages company in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

It is no secret that Chinese investors and visitors in recent years have been exploring the Middle East.

“With so many Chinese visitors [to Dubai] now many restaurants have started keeping a Chinese language menu,” he says. “They like dim sum so much that they have tweaked the ingredients to include chicken instead of pork favoured by the Chinese [because Islam prohibits pork].”

According to Azmat Mui Moosdeen, chairman of Hong Kong Middle East Chamber, Chinese investors are mostly interested in infrastructure and property projects in the region, with the United Arab Emirates attracting the most investment.

Forum spotlights UAE as gateway for Chinese investors into the Middle East

The chamber on Monday will host a Belt and Road forum on the how the New Silk Road project can encourage more Chinese investors to look for opportunities in the Middle East.

Even Hong Kong headquartered Cosco Group’s Cosco Shipping Ports is involved in a huge port project in the UAE, which is a gateway for Chinese trade in the Middle East, handling about 60 per cent of China’s exports to the Middle East. China has now become the UAE’s second-biggest trading partner after India.

Besides trade, technology is also emerging as an area that can lead to strong links between China and the Middle East. Last May, the first Arab China Tech Summit was held in Dubai, which brought together start-ups from MENA and top Chinese technology investors and entrepreneurs.

It is worth noting that Alibaba Cloud is looking to expand operations in the Arab region.

China’s Didi Chuxing invested in Careem in August last year, which is Uber’s rival in the MENA region.

Technology, infrastructure and trading are attracting a lot of Chinese to the region. For youngsters like Chim, who can speak the language and are aware of the cultural values of both the Chinese and Arabs, there are a lot of opportunities.

If our youth are worried about the lack of entertainment, they need not fear. Chim says there are lot Korean soap operas and films available on television in Dubai for K-pop fans.

Now that the main essentials of food and entertainment have been sorted out, it is time our youth explore the world; in this case the Middle East.