Moving to Dubai
Source: Flickr | Michael Theis
Dubai is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates and quite possibly the most famous of all Arabian metropolises. This fame has arisen from the city’s great oil wealth; from the massive construction projects that have resulted - including the world’s tallest skyscraper and man-made islands.
From the reputation for excess among Dubai’s young and wealthy to the large numbers of expats attracted to Dubai by the prospect of sharing in the city’s prosperity, moving to Dubai has never been more of a good idea.
Immigrants can take advantage of huge shopping malls, a 21st century transport network and world class healthcare and education facilities. Since 2002 expats have been able to buy property in Dubai and are subject to very low rates of taxation. Tax free salaries are one of the reasons to move to Dubai, like, now.
The official religion of Islam is adhered to by the overwhelming majority of the population and also has a large influence on the law. As such, the dress code is rather conservative (though becoming increasingly Westernised) and alcohol can be bought and consumed in a limited number of licensed venues.
Source: Flickr | McKay Savage
Located on the coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai has the kind of desert climate which makes air conditioning a necessity; it is everywhere. This is just one of the several things you should know before moving to the UAE.
Although the Dubai economy has its roots in oil, expats will find there are plenty of jobs available in other sectors as well, including education, technology, aviation and a thriving hospitality industry.
The city has been an important trading post for hundreds of years. The historic district, nestled among the modern towers of glass and steel and preserving the 17th century residences of Persian merchants, marks the end point of ancient caravan routes.
Unemployment is extremely low due to the fact that residents must have a job to have a residence visa, or be sponsored by an employed family member. Expats from other Arab countries tend to get most bilingual jobs, but learning Arabic will definitely be an asset. Recruiters are the way to go for most jobs, but applying on company websites is also worth a shot.
Needless to say, the oil and gas industry is well-paid. Two major employers in this sector are ENOC and Schlumberger.
Aviation and aerospace is another large industry requiring skilled workers. Emirates, the official airline of Dubai, is a major employer for expat pilots and flights staff, as well as supporting industries. This industry is particularly welcoming to bilingual or trilingual workers due to the wide variety of people coming through the region.
Source: Flickr | lkarasawa
Due to the large number of families living in Dubai, education is a booming sector. There are over 100 private schools in Dubai, with more opening every year to meet demand. Teachers and administrators can make a much better living than in their home countries, and benefits often include free education for their children.
Living costs in Dubai are similar to other large cities worldwide, though with the accommodation generally provided, expats in the city find themselves with quite a bit of disposable income to save or pay down debt. With an average monthly disposable income of around 11,500 AED, travel is affordable and frequent entertainment and fine dining are an option.
A three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant will cost about 150 AED, and a quick bite at a cafe can be had for 20-30 AED. Grocery shopping is reasonable, with a liter of milk costing about 5.5 AED, and a loaf of white bread costs about 4.5 AED.
Source: Flickr | Joi Ito
Bottled water and soda will run 1-2 AED each. Alcohol is available at certain stores and is reasonable. A bottle of mid-range wine is 70 AED, on average, and an imported beer is about 29 AED at a hotel.
Phone and internet options abound in Dubai. A 6 mbps home internet connection with no cap will cost 290 AED, and many packages with TV are available for 100-200 AED more per month.
Prepaid mobile minutes average about 0.59 AED, but many plans are available once your residence visa is processed.
Transportation options are plentiful in Dubai. The public bus is about 5 AED and taxis are cheap, as well, at 2 AED per kilometer. Car rental starts at 1400 AED monthly and petrol is less than 2 AED/liter. Taxis can add up, though, as things are spread out geographically and the fares account for tolls.
Accommodation is by far the most expensive aspect of living in Dubai. However, most employers cover the accommodation costs, and electric bills and utilities are only about 250 AED per month.
A one bedroom apartment in the city center will cost you about 7,500 AED per month or about 5300 per month outside the city center. The three bedroom apartment in the city center will cost you over 15,000 AED per month or about 10,600 per month outside the city center. Discovery Gardens and Jumeirah Lakes Towers are some of the more affordable places for families, but watch out for traffic!
Source: Flickr | Serge Bystro
Purchasing a home in Dubai is an option in certain areas of the city, with new studio apartments starting at 500,000 AED and 3 bedroom villas at 2 million AED or more.
Family-Friendly: Emirates Living - this area is close to Sheikh Zayed Road, the main artery through Dubai, and near several international schools and American University in Dubai. Hospitals are nearby, and malls are conveniently located.
Arabian Ranches is another family friendly area located a little further out, but it is still convenient for commuting. In addition, it’s relaxes, yet close to amenities such as golf courses and international schools.
Upmarket: Jumeirah - known as the “Beverly Hills of the Middle East,” this area caters to wealthy locals and expats. It’s close to such attractions as Burj Al Arab and Wild Wadi Water Park. Dubai Marina, another area built around artificial canals, and close to Dubai Marina Mall and the Marina Promenade.
Hip & Trendy: Downtown Dubai - Although pricey, this area is near the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, and is known for the quality of its construction.
Up & Coming - the Jumeirah area has something for everyone, and new developments are going up all the time. From malls to beaches, this is the place to be.
Cost of moving
Here is a list of shipping cost estimates for moving to Dubai, based on an average move for an average family. This does not include the cost of flights and visas/passports.
|London to Dubai||£3,731 GBP|
|Vancouver to Dubai||£4,434 GBP|
|Sydney to Dubai||£4,478 GBP|
|San Diego to Dubai||£4,580 GBP|
|New York to Dubai||£4,796 GBP|
|Toronto to Dubai||£4,974 GBP|
|Berlin to Dubai||£5,116 GBP|
Schools and Education
There are over 150 private and international schools in Dubai. There are many different schools with American, British, and Canadian curriculum as well as the curriculum of Asian countries. Public schools in Dubai are generally reserved for native Arabic speaking students.
The most prominent international schools are British and American some examples of these are GEMS schools (both British and American curriculum), Dubai British School, and the American School of Dubai. Tuition rates generally cost 50,000 AED a year or more.
Universities in Dubai
Dubai has campuses of many prominent universities such as Middlesex University and the University of Wollongong. In addition, there are local universities such as American University in Dubai and Zayed University. The language of instruction is usually English, and expat students are frequently admitted.
Comparing Dubai with Abu Dhabi
Dubai is a city on the rise. It’s not as laid-back as Abu Dhabi, and has plenty to do. It is more expensive than Abu Dhabi, as the government of Abu Dhabi subsidises more expenses, like petrol and electricity costs. In addition, Abu Dhabi is smaller, so transport costs can be lower, though Dubai has the advantage of a Metro.
A day in the life
When not working, Dubai is a great place to socialise with friends. Weekend mornings tend to be quiet in town, but the brunch scene is bustling. Brunch in Dubai lasts from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and almost every hotel has a spread. Prices range from 200 AED to 500 AED with alcohol, but there are frequent 2-for-1 promotions. A popular, if pricey, option for brunch is Atlantis the Palm, but you’ll no doubt find the spot that you enjoy the best.
After brunch, you can go to one of Dubai’s beaches and relax or go jet skiing - Al Mamzar Beach and Jumeirah Beach are popular with Jumeirah Hotel and Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa nearby.
At night, there are frequent lectures at local universities, and many nice pubs in the hotels around town. Regular concerts are on with international acts and are typically held later at night to take advantage of cooler temperatures.