Introduction: In a range of Dutch cities, in recent years a policy has been developed which is specifically directed to knowledge workers or expatriates – often simply called expats. Special expat information centers were opened in, among other cities, The Hague, Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Leiden and Eindhoven. Rotterdam, the city which forms the central focus of this research, established an Expat Desk at the end of 2008. Although differences exist regarding the exact design of such expat desks, they share the objective of giving expats a ‘red carpet welcome’ to make their stay more comfortable and to make them feel at home in the city. The expat desks’ services vary from offering help with the application for a residence permit to providing practical information about housing, health care and education. The establishment of specific expat desks in the Netherlands reflects an international trend of countries and urban regions competing for international human capital (Ewers 2007: 120). National and local governments increasingly try to create favorable living and working conditions for expats. In contrast with other types of migrants, expats experience an enabling policy environment, rather than a restrictive one. The German sociologist Thomas Faist (2008) argues regarding highly skilled migrants that there has been a shift from a ‘red card’ to a ‘red carpet’ strategy. Despite the increased attention to expats in national and urban policy, up until now not much is known about the experiences of these ‘welcome guests’ themselves. Are they attached to the city they live in? And what do expats think should be done to make the city a more attractive living environment? To answer these and other questions, we conducted research among more than one hundred expats in Rotterdam and The Hague.

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CIMIC: Citizenship, Migration & the City
Department of Sociology

van Bochove, M., Rusinovic, K., & Engbersen, G. (2011). On the Red Carpet. Expats in Rotterdam and The Hague. CIMIC: Citizenship, Migration & the City. Retrieved from