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All about relocating to the UAE and Dubai

All about relocating to the UAE and Dubai

Why move to Dubai?

Relocating to Dubai opens up many opportunities for foreigners. The most famous of the Arab Emirates attracts not only tourists. Every year, many specialists of various professions move here for permanent residence. Everyone has different reasons: someone wants to live near the warm and gentle sea, someone is interested in high wages and loyal tax policy. But in any case, to decide to move to an unfamiliar city, you should first weigh all the pros and cons.

You can meet people from all over the world

In the Arab Emirates, no one feels like a stranger. There are so many immigrants here (according to the latest data, only 10-15% of citizens and 90-85% of residents and illegal immigrants live in the UAE). Of course, a real international is observed in Dubai. Living here, you can make a kind of journey around the world: learn about the traditions of different peoples, get acquainted with world cuisines (there are restaurants in any region of the UAE where you can taste the national dishes of their different countries), learn about the ways of life of certain national groups, get acquainted with the peculiarities of world religions. UAE relocation will replace traveling, reading encyclopedias and geography lessons.

You will have to drop the phrase “TGIF”

In Dubai, the weekend comes on Friday, as it is a holy day in Islam. Saturday is also a day off. The working week starts on Sunday. At the beginning, this mode of life is unusual, but then you can adapt.

English is widely spoken

The official language of the UAE is Arabic, but a huge number of expats live in the country, so English is perfectly understood everywhere.

The cost of living is very expensive


Dubai is a very expensive city, almost everyone who moved to the UAE declares this in unison. Lunch in an inexpensive restaurant — 35-60 dirhams, pizza — from 40 dirhams, coffee with dessert — from 50 dirhams, dinner for two in a good restaurant — an average of 150 dirhams per one. One trip in transport costs 5 dirhams. A liter of gasoline is 3.2 dirhams. It is not budget—friendly to eat at home: for example, bread costs 4.5 dirhams, eggs — 9.7 dirhams, chicken – 25 dirhams, potatoes — 3.6 dirhams.

Women’s night every night

In Dubai, in a beautiful paradise waiting for any person, there are interesting “women’s nights” or “Ladies’ Night”, and they are aimed at entertaining beautiful representatives of the weaker sex.

It is on Tuesday that traditionally women’s nights are held. There are, of course, others, but Tuesday has become a classic day for this kind of entertainment. There are numerous websites offering to get acquainted with the party plan, and on what day it will take place in this cafe, restaurant.

There are areas for women only

There is a Women and children only zone in the metro. A pink line on the floor separates it from the common area. Women can choose whether to go with men or without them.

If you break the rules, you will have to pay a fine of 100 dirhams. Every day, supervisors in Dubai punish about a hundred men who decide to use the female privilege of a comfortable ride.

It’s a very safe place to live

Dubai is among the safest cities in the world.

It is very important that the cameras in the emirate are located in many places. It helps to track crimes in three sectors: tourism, transport, retail. Here it is quite normal to leave your phone, purse at a table in a cafe and go buy coffee. Also, in Dubai, you can safely leave things on the beach to swim in the sea.

It is due to the fact that the Arab Emirates pay special attention to security (this is in the first place) that Dubai is so attractive for wealthy people. For many of them, this is the key point. Here you cannot worry about personal safety and for the safety of your property, real estate.

You will need health insurance

Health insurance

Free state medicine is available to residents of the UAE, it is at a very high level in the country. Tourists can also apply for insurance assistance. Make it better before arrival, but it will be possible to issue a policy on the spot.

Another option is to go to a private clinic on your own. The price level is approximately the following: a day in the hospital — 5,000 —7,000 dirhams ($ 1,360—$ 1,905), an appointment with a therapist — 300 dirhams ($82), a specialist – 350-400 dirhams ($95-109), a general blood test ‑ 90-100 dirhams ($24.5-$27), a PCR test — 100-150 dirhams ($27-41).

Wisely follow the rules

UAE relocation requires knowledge of local rules and traditions. Many of the prohibitions are related to religion, much is being done for the safety of everyone who is in the Emirates. Recall that the UAE is one of the safest countries in the world, the crime rate is almost zero.

So, what is not allowed in the Emirates:

  • Drinking alcoholic beverages, as well as being intoxicated in public places, including on city beaches. On the private beaches of some elite hotels, the waiters themselves offer different drinks, they will bring them directly to the chaise longue. But it is not recommended to walk outside your hotel in a drunken state and even with a hangover. The fine can be very large – up to 2,000 dirhams ($544.51) or even imprisonment.
  • It is recommended not to advertise extramarital sexual relations. In 2020, the UAE abolished the punishment for cohabitation without marriage. The wording about sex without marriage is vague and so far, there have been no cases of applying these amendments to the law. But just in case, it’s better not to talk about your personal life.
  • It is forbidden to photograph government buildings, palaces of Sheikhs. Near the palace, the guards will politely ask to remove the cameras. You can also not remove strategic objects. Just in case, it would be appropriate to ask for permission to take photos and videos every time.
  • It is very strict in the UAE about drugs. The list of narcotic substances may even include a medicine that a doctor prescribed for you. If you take medicine with you, you need a doctor’s prescription. Of course, it is not a fact that with a prescription it will be possible to import the medicine into the UAE, but at least the document will protect you from responsibility.

Get ready for the heat

This city has one major drawback – a very hot summer. At this time, the temperature rises to + 45, and sometimes higher. If you also take into account the increased humidity, then you understand that it is almost impossible to be outside.

Ramadan and Islamic holidays

Holidays in UAE

For the period of Ramadan, your life will change: many entertainment venues will be closed, it will be impossible to eat and drink in public places, and local residents will lead a predominantly nocturnal lifestyle.

This is the city of innovation

Dubai is a city of technological progress. It seems that the city is jumping ahead of the whole planet. In Dubai, you can visit international technology exhibitions. In addition, life is comfortable and modern.

Permanent traffic jams

Infrastructure, technology, business sphere and tourism industry in Dubai are developing rapidly. Today the city is one of the most progressive in the world, more and more tourists come here every year. But if we talk about road traffic, then here, as in other megacities, traffic jams often occur, which greatly complicates the process of movement. And this is despite the fact that the road network is well built.

Great variety of public transport

Dubai has a metro and a well-developed land transport network. A single Nol card is used to pay for travel, it is also useful to pay for parking. You can top up your balance at vending machines at metro stations and bus stops. The cost of a trip by public transport depends on its distance, focus on 4-8 dirhams (1.1–2.2 dollars).

Taxis in the UAE can be ordered through Careem, Uber, KiwiTaxi and the Dubai Transport Authority RTA app. Popular car—sharing services are Ekar, Udrive and FriendyCar.

Brunch is a must every weekend

Weekends are a great reason to relax and spend time outside the house, for example, go to brunch. And the ideal brunch is, as you know, the feeling of a lazy, leisurely late morning with bubbles in a glass. But when it comes to finding that perfect brunch in Dubai, countless offers can just drive you crazy.

Nearly tax-free lifestyle

A man with a child

Many people believe that Dubai is a real tax haven, since there are no taxes in the UAE. This is true, but with a few caveats. In the emirate, there are no taxes on personal income, business income, and employee salaries. There is also no tax for the rental of real estate. All profits remain with you and you do not need to make any deductions. However, there are some exceptions:

The banking sector (branches of foreign banks), oil companies in the emirate still pay taxes. In the oil industry, it accounts for 55% of operating revenue. But in some cases it can reach 85%. And banks pay a tax of 20% of operating revenue.

5% VAT was recently introduced.

The company’s registration in the emirate is renewed annually (approximately 5000-6000 $). This is called a license fee.

The main road to Dubai is a toll road. When passing under the special SALIK toll gate, you must pay 4 dirhams (a little more than a dollar).

Property owners, when paying for the maintenance of the building, the adjacent territory, also pay special fees, which are already included in the mandatory fee.

In restaurants, hotels, 10% of the cost of services are included in the bill.

For permanent residence in the UAE, fees amounting to 10 dirhams are also sometimes charged for the provision of various services. But this is not constant, but from time to time.

Your work is closely linked to your personal life

All data and messages do not come to your address, but to the address of your employer. The fact is that if you are not a citizen of Dubai, and you have received a work visa, then your employer has vouched for you. The easiest way to establish contact with you is to contact through an employer.

This is the number one lockdown.

Dubai attracts tourists and so-called “digital nomads” not only with its warm winter climate, but also with mild coronavirus restrictions, allowing visitors to go to beaches, swimming pools and restaurants, as in normal life, which seems like a mirage in most other countries.

It’s a paradise for bird watchers

A man with birds

Dubai is a great place for bird watching and very few people have experimented here because there is a belief that there are no birds in the desert; but this view has changed as migratory birds use this destination as their main travel route due to its geographical location and favorable climate. Every year ecologists and ornithologists flock to Dubai with their bird-watching equipment to capture the beautiful creatures on their cameras. Dubai has several famous parks, home to some of the rarest bird species in the world.

Dubai uses robots as jockeys

Robot jockeys are small robots used in Arab countries to race camels instead of humans. Before the development of robot jockeys in 2004, in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar, young children were used as riders, and this was often done in violation of their rights and was associated with high injuries. Under pressure from human rights organizations, the authorities of Qatar and the UAE banned the use of live people as riders during camel races, and robots took their place in the saddle.

You need a license to drink alcohol

Most of the crimes around the world are due to excessive alcohol consumption. And in Dubai, to buy alcohol, you need to get a special license. It is issued only to those who do not profess Islam and have reached the age of 21. The license is issued to tourists for a month, and to Dubai citizens for a year (but only if the income is at least 3,000 AED). At the same time, alcohol is not sold everywhere, but only in special places: hotels, restaurants, bars. But it should be borne in mind that not all hotels and restaurants in the UAE have a permit to sell alcohol. As for the stores, alcohol is sold only in the retail chains MMI, African + Eastern.

What are the types of visas and entry permits?

Despite the fact that the government of the Arab Emirates strictly ensures that illegal migrants do not flood into the country, so it carefully checks the documents before issuing a visa, the procedure itself is quite simple. It is quite possible to deal with it on your own. If you are afraid for a favorable result, then there are enough firms and travel agencies in any country that are ready to act as an intermediary in this matter.

The decision to issue a visa is made by the Immigration Department of the Emirates. He may well refuse to issue the desired document without even explaining the reason for his refusal. Usually, a visa is issued within 4-5 days, but often this process can take a week or even several weeks, especially during high tourist seasons, so it is not worth delaying the submission of documents.

Work Visa


It is issued in case of obtaining a job in the UAE. As a rule, an Employment Visa belongs to the category of workers, but in some cases, it also applies to investor visas.

Issued on the basis of a request from a company registered in the UAE.

Business visa

It is issued to those who plan to visit the country in order to resolve work issues, participate in business negotiations, etc. The basis for issuing such a visa is an invitation or other documentary confirmation of the purpose of the visit.

A business visa to the UAE is single-entry and cannot be extended.

Investor Visa


It is issued on the basis of a confirmation of the opening of a business, the acquisition of real estate or investment in the economy of the state.

Student visa

Emirates universities are accessible to foreigners. A tourist visa will not be enough for you to get an education, but it is very problematic for students to get a resident visa. It was for them that the educational visa was introduced, which was initially issued for 60 days, and then, if necessary, extended for the same term 4 more times. It costs a little more than 1 thousand dirhams; the extension is paid separately in the amount of 620 dirhams.

Dependent Visa


A visa of dependent persons can be issued exclusively for the next of kin, in order to obtain it, a certain set of accompanying documentation is required. A UAE resident visa for a spouse, child, parents or other related persons requires the provision of documents that confirm the relationship. You will also need certificates of the availability of the necessary funds for the maintenance of relatives in the UAE and documents confirming the availability of housing (this may be a lease agreement or a certificate of ownership). All the listed documents must be legalized.

Freelance Visa

It is issued if an employee wants to move to Dubai or another emirate and can perform his work remotely.

Green visa


The 5-year “Green Residence Visa” is available to investors, entrepreneurs, skilled workers, freelancers from all over the world and is aimed at improving the flexibility of the UAE labor market. You can get it without involving a sponsor or employer. Benefits and a 5-year residence permit are available to family members of the “Green Visa” holder. After the cancellation or expiration of the document, its owner will be able to stay in the country for up to six months.

What documents are required to start the visa process in Dubai?

If you decide to apply for a visa to the UAE yourself, then you need to start by submitting a request to the visa application center of the United Arab Emirates. You will receive an answer almost immediately: an email with a link will be sent to your email. By clicking on it, you immediately get to the right page, so there will definitely be no misunderstanding what to do next. The mandatory conditions for obtaining a visa are:

  • filling out the questionnaire (in English);
  • uploading scanned passport pages, color, recently taken photos (3×4 cm format);
  • payment of the consular fee (about $ 100), which is non-refundable, even if you are refused a visa or you change your mind about going to this country;
  • the payment of the deposit amount (it can be quite high, especially for young tourists who are going to stay in inexpensive hotels) is refunded to you if you leave the Emirates on time.

The conditions for obtaining a visa and the list of required documents may differ depending on the type of visa you are requesting.

After you have fulfilled all the primary conditions for obtaining a visa, you will only have to wait for an answer. Sometimes the UAE Immigration officers may require additional documents to make a decision, they may find an error in the scanned papers you have already sent or a completed questionnaire.

What documents do I need to take with me when moving to Dubai?

To move you will need:

  • visa;
  • a valid passport with an expiration date of at least 6 months (when traveling with children, they must have their own passports);
  • medical insurance.

Moving Your Property: What Options Do You Have?

Delivery by air

You can deliver your property to Dubai from another country by both air and water transport. There is no need to transport furniture to the UAE: it is easier to rent furnished apartments in Dubai. In addition, foreigners can purchase furniture and basic necessities in local stores, for example, IKEA, Pan Emirates, Home Center, The One, Dwell. Expats can also buy used furniture on portals such as , , Cash and .

Hiring an international moving company

Aviation can significantly reduce the delivery time, but it is expensive – we use it for urgent transportation of certain categories of goods (medicines, expensive items, jewelry, perishable goods). A more economical way to deliver goods to the UAE is by sea transport. To do this, containers with cargo and equipment are delivered to seaports – from there ships are sent to the Arab Emirates.

Carry bags with you during the flight

Things that you can take with you on board the plane:

  • documents;
  • handbag or briefcase;
  • portable computer;
  • folder for papers;
  • umbrella or cane;
  • outerwear;
  • printed publications for reading in flight;
  • medications with a prescription.

What items cannot be brought to Dubai?

Dubai is a developed city, so you should not take a lot of things when moving.

Should you take a passport of the country in which you live? In general, there is no mandatory recommendation on this, so you can leave it at home. A passport is enough.

There is absolutely no need to take warm clothes with you. None.

In general, you do not need to take a lot of things. Everything you may need; over time you will be able to buy already in the UAE.

The list of what is prohibited to import into the UAE includes:

  • Narcotic drugs.
  • Goods of those countries that have been boycotted.
  • Raw ivory and rhino horn.
  • Gambling machines.
  • Three-layer fishing nets.
  • Radioactive things.
  • Original cultural values.
  • Printed publications insulting Muslims.

What to focus on after moving to Dubai?

A girl in Dubai

The easiest and fastest way to get to Dubai is by air. The city is home to one of the most beautiful and comfortable airports in the world, so when you get off the plane, you will immediately get acquainted with the first attraction of Dubai. It is better to take plane tickets in advance, because at the last moment, firstly, they may not be, and secondly, their cost will increase. Do not take too many things with you. You will not need a winter wardrobe – it is always hot in the UAE, it is useless to carry equipment with you – it may not fit local outlets, especially if it is made in the USA. You can dress in Dubai during the sales period in branded items and at a low cost. As you can see, you can limit yourself to a minimum of things. If you certainly want to take a pet with you to the UAE, then get ready for difficulties: he must have all vaccinations, be registered in the database, and also need a permit.

Where to find accommodation in Dubai?

Permanent residence assumes, first of all, the presence of a roof over your head. And there are two options here: buying a house in Dubai or renting it. Recently, the emirate’s real estate market has been experiencing a real boom, and everyone will be able to find what they like: from a modest small studio to a penthouse, from apartments in a skyscraper to their own villa on the seashore.

It is also important that real estate in Dubai is characterized by high liquidity and fast payback (on average from 7 to 12 years). Therefore, even if you decide to move over time, you will always be able to return your investments with interest or receive passive income through rent.

The price is influenced by the usual factors: the prestige of the area, transport accessibility, the availability of furniture, the area of the apartment, etc. This applies to both renting and purchasing real estate in Dubai.

For example, you can rent a studio or a single apartment in a relatively remote area from the center of Dubai (Discovery Garden, International City, Remraam or Town Square) for 15-26 thousand dirhams (from 4 to 7 thousand dollars) per year. But for the same apartments, but in the center, they will cost from 32 to 130 thousand dirhams (8,700 – 35,000 dollars). Renting a two-bedroom villa in the Amazonia area will cost about 70,000 dirhams (US$ 19,000).

What types of residential property are available for expats in Dubai?

Real estate

Renting an apartment in Dubai may well compete for the title of the most expensive. So, the cost of one-bedroom apartments in the center starts from 5600 dirhams. For a three-bedroom apartment, you will need to fork out at least 10 thousand dirhams. In addition, it is customary to rent apartments unfurnished here, so the furniture is another (and rather big) expense item. Long-term rental housing is searched on the sites Dubizzle, Property Finder, Bayut, Zoomproperty.

Communal services will cost at least 650 dirhams, Internet — from 350 dirhams. Usually housing is rented out immediately for a year, but sometimes the payment is divided into two parts. They are often asked to leave a deposit at the conclusion of a lease agreement. If you want to buy a property, then the price per square meter starts from 8 thousand dirhams.

What is the cost of living in Dubai?

As in any other city, the cost of living in Dubai can vary greatly depending on the area of residence and the lifestyle that you are used to leading. Prestigious central areas naturally require high costs, while places more remote from the main attractions will be much cheaper. And first of all, it concerns real estate.

If you calculate all the expenses, the average cost of living in Dubai alone will be approximately 4,000 dirhams per month, which is equivalent to 1,100 US dollars. A family of 4 people will need to spend about 12,000 dirhams ($3,300). Of these, about a third will be housing costs. Monthly food costs will be approximately $ 130 per person (unless, of course, you plan daily visits to the restaurant), it is quite possible to spend no more than $ 85 per month on travel. But, again, prices can vary greatly, because a lot depends on what level of comfort you are used to, the area of residence, etc.

Getting a driver’s license in Dubai

In Dubai, it is very difficult without a car, so take care to get an international license or get a local one. If you are in the UAE on a tourist visa, you need an international license, if you get a resident visa in the UAE, you need to get a local driver’s license.

TV and satellite

Internet and TV services are offered in packages of utilities. You can connect free calls to landlines, about 200 TV channels and the Internet at 500 Mbit/s for 390 dirhams (106 dollars).

Getting a bank account

Getting a bank account

The banking system of the Arab Emirates is famous for its reliability. Many people dream of opening an account in a bank in the UAE, but it is mainly possible for residents. If you are going to move to Abu Dhabi, then you have already taken care of a resident visa. The presence of such a document will allow you to open an account in the bank in which you want. And, if non-citizens are offered only a funded type of account, then you will not face such restrictions, having the opportunity to open the type of account that you need.

The minimum balance when opening a bank account for an individual or legal entity in Dubai should be AED 3,000 (USD 817). However, if we are talking about creating a salary account, then there are no requirements for a minimum balance. A personal account can be opened within 1-3 days in any bank of the emirate, while the approximate time for opening a company’s bank account in the UAE is from 2 weeks to 2 months (depends on the type of organization).

Phone and Internet

There are two major operators in the UAE — Du and Etisalat.

If you want to use the number longer, buy a regular SIM card with your passport. They can be found in the offices of mobile operators, at supermarket checkout counters, in kiosks at metro stations.

A tariff with 20 GB of mobile Internet costs 200-250 dirhams (55-68 dollars). You can top up your account in the mobile application, terminals or using vouchers. They sell them in communication salons and regular stores.

How to pay for all utilities in Dubai?

Utilities include not only sewerage, water and electricity, for which DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) is responsible, but also mobile communications, television and Internet.

The cost of a kilowatt-hour in the UAE is 0.23 dirhams, a gallon of water (about 4.5 liters) is 0.03 dirhams. On average, utilities for medium-sized apartments (~85 sq. m.) will cost 600 dirhams or $ 160 per month. But be prepared for the fact that due to the constant operation of the air conditioner in the summer, this amount may be more.

Relocating to Dubai is an opportunity to get acquainted with a new culture. In addition, such a decision can give career prospects. The main thing is to prepare well for the move. Collect the necessary documents, learn the laws and plan a flight to Dubai.

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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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