Living in the UAE you will find yourself in one of the seven states (or emirates), which were formerly independent sheikdoms: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Qaiwain, Ras Al-Khaimah or Fujairah. Approximately 90% of the country consists of a desert terrain and mountainous terrain.
The UAE is a thriving part of the world that is playing an increasingly significant role in both international business and tourism. In some countries within the region, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi significant investment has been made into the infrastructure and opulent skyscrapers and hotels now characterize these areas.
The United Arab Emirates as an Expat Destination
The UAE has a very significant expat community, which makes up for almost 50% of the total population. Of the people living in the UAE a vast majority (95%) are Muslim. The majority of expats are drawn here as a result of the tax-free lifestyle on offer and for those on an international wage the standard of living is very high. Private education facilities, fantastic shopping and numerous entertainment options make this an interesting and enjoyable place in which to raise your family.
Cost of Living in The UAE
Last year saw a dramatic decrease in the cost of living in many cities in the UAE and in the 2012 Mercer cost of living survey no cities in the UAE featured in the top ten most expensive cities in which to live; Abu Dhabi (76) overtook Dubai (94) in the rankings and became the most expensive city in the United Arab Emirates.
One of the biggest benefits to expatriates of living in Dubai is the low taxation and this has a positive impact on the cost of a number of items, including vehicles, electronic goods and local produce. Utilities are also slightly cheaper here than they are in many countries as a result of government subsidies on electricity, water and gas.
As with many cities, accommodation will represent the biggest cost that expatriates face but, according to Mercer, accommodation costs in the region are decreasing: “The trend of falling accommodation costs continues across the Middle East region, driving the cities down the ranking along with the cost of living for expats. Dubai in particular is witnessing a drastic reduction in accommodation costs as the supply of property keeps flooding the rental market.”
Expatriates living in the UAE who search out luxury goods or international brand names will also need to be prepared to pay higher prices for those items.
Our relocation guide contains detailed living costs across different types of lifestyles and living options. Because our guides are written by expats who live and work in the countries themselves, you can be assured that the information is accurate, reliable and up to date.
The official language of the UAE is Arabic but English is widely spoken and the majority of expats living in the UAE do not experience any difficulties communicating with the locals.
Sub-tropical and arid. Temperatures range from over 50 degrees C in summer (April to September) through to -15 degrees in the evenings. Sand storms occasionally occur.
Living in The UAE: Expat Job and Career Opportunities
In recent years, through a program that is known as Emiratisation, the UAE government has placed significant pressure of companies to assist them to reduce unemployment amongst nationals. This has led to a reduction in opportunities for foreign workers and it can be very difficult to secure work. The majority of expats who are based here are on international contracts that were secured whilst in their home countries.
Key Facts Every Expat Should Know About Living in The UAE
- If you hold an Israeli passport or if your passport has entry/exit stamps from Israel, you will probably not be permitted to enter any UAE country.
- A permit is necessary for the purchase of alcohol from registered vendors. No alcohol at all is permitted in the Emirate of Sharjah.
- There is no free state education for those living in the UAE who are not UAE nationals.
- Many rental accommodation contracts are for at least one year and many landlords will request that the full year’s rent is paid in advance. If you leave the country before the end of the year the likelihood is that you will not get the money back.
- If anyone in the UAE requests to keep your passport, e.g. a hotel or your company, you should always say no. They don’t have the authority by law to keep possession of your passport.
Living in The UAE: City Guides
Expat Info Desk currently has a city guide available for living in Dubai. This exhaustive guide contains everything you need to know about relocating to this city and will assist you to:
- relocate efficiently and effectively with minimum stress.
- settle in to your new life quickly and easily and find the help and assistance you need, when you need it.
- identify areas to live in that suit your lifestyle and budget.
- find the right places to meet like-minded people.
- find schools that are suitable for your children and their learning needs.
- ensure that your family get the most of their experiences abroad.
- prepare for the new culture in advance and avoid any cultural traps.
- deal with any transition challenges.
- cut through red tape and avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.
Unlike a book, the guides are regularly reviewed and updated in order to ensure that the information is accurate and reliable and because the guides are written by real expats who live and work in Dubai, you can be assured that you are accessing the information that you need as written by people who really are in the know.