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Managing expatriates in the United Arab Emirates: the role of host- and home-country mentors on expatriate career outcomes

Rizwan Tahir (Department of Business and Management, Rochester Institute of Technology – Dubai Campus, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 8 April 2021

Issue publication date: 29 June 2021




This study aims to empirically explore how mentoring can help Western expatriates before, during and after the overseas assignment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


This qualitative study is built on 20 in-depth interviews with Western expatriates currently working and living in the UAE.


This study demonstrates that expatriate mentoring is an important area largely unexplored in the literature. The results establish that host-country mentors are fundamentally responsible for helping expatriates to develop common problem-focused coping tactics, whereas home-country mentors predominantly address emotionally focused coping tactics during the pre-departure and repatriation phase of the expatriation process.

Research limitations/implications

Over 30 years’ worth of research literature was searched within the following major databases: ABI/INFORM, ERIC and PsycINFO. These databases contained articles, mainly in English, of limited scope, i.e. more academic than practical. This may have led to the omission of some expatriate mentoring approaches applied in practice by human resources managers, especially in countries where English is not the first language.

Practical implications

Mentors in both the host and home countries are crucial in assisting and supporting expatriates in developing constructive coping strategies that enhance the likelihood of a successful expatriation experience.


There is insufficient research in expatriate mentoring, which this study aims to address by focusing on Western expatriates in the UAE, a vibrant Arab, Muslim country whose local business environment is very different from that of China, Europe and the USA, which have been the main focus of prior research.



Tahir, R. (2021), "Managing expatriates in the United Arab Emirates: the role of host- and home-country mentors on expatriate career outcomes", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 426-445.



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