There are many reasons why United Arab Emirates became a very popular expat destination for work, studying or tourism.
Located in the heart of the Middle East, UAE is one of the most liberal and westernized countries in the Gulf area and is home to more than 150 nationalities. While Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the bustling centre for the region in a commercial and tourist perspective, the country as a whole has a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle and career development.
Indeed, UAE is the country that effectively offers more job opportunities than any other in the Middle East and its local authorities actively encourage foreign business as demonstrated by the many free zones all over the country where expatriates can open a company without the requirement of a UAE national sponsor or shareholder (for more information about business setup in UAE, click here).
With a combination of a tax free income, expat friendly environment, sunny climate, proximity to top Asian tourist destinations and high standards of living, UAE is definitely the right place to relocate in.
But the country is also an exceptional market of investment. Many are, indeed, the producers that have decided to invest in Dubai or in another Emirate without opening a company in UAE.
Through commercial agents or distributors, they can in fact benefit of the great potentials that UAE market offers, promote or sell their products at a minor risk and very advantageous prices (to know more information about business intermediation services, click here).
Established on 2nd December, 1971, United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates, which are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.
The president is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan who is also ruler of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, which city serves as the capital of the federation.
With a total area of 83 600 square kilometers, of which Abu Dhabi makes up approximately 87 percent, UAE is located at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, as well as sharing sea borders with Qatar and Iran.
The climate is sub-tropical with hot summers and warm winters. During the hottest months, from May to September, temperature may oscillate between 35 and 50 degrees C, accompanied by high levels of humidity. The situation gets better from October till end of April, with pleasant temperatures ranging from 20 to 30 degrees C and low humidity. The country is well organized to make these conditions manageable for its residents, however, as air conditioning systems are inevitably placed everywhere (accommodations, offices, taxis, trams, bus stops, malls).
Rainfall is infrequent and usually occurs between November and March, with an average annual rainfall of 152 mm.
Arabic is the official language of the country and it’s mainly used within the government and in the business, but English is the language most used to communicate with the wide mix of nationalities that populate the country.
With a population of about 8.3 million, UAE has one of the highest demographic rate in the world mainly due to immigration. Only 11 percent of the population is local, while the rest are all expatriates from south and east Asia, other Arab countries, Europe and West.
UAE boasts to have a very qualified healthcare system and some of the best facilities in the world, with highly specialized doctors coming mainly from western countries. Prices are generally expensive without a health insurance card, a strict requisite for obtaining the employment visa.
The real estate market is quite active in UAE and expats can opt to buy or to rent many different kind of properties, from apartments to villas (with some exception for specific areas). The costs increased notably in recent years but they are experiencing a reverse trend after the recent fall of oil prices. Many buildings include facilities such as swimming pools, gym, sauna and covered parking.
The world’s leading banks and their subsidiaries have established their presence in UAE through multiple branches. You can find some of them also in the malls, where you can easily open a bank account, get a debit/credit card to withdraw money from one of the many ATM machines located everywhere and to use them for your transactions, whether online or off.
One of the major incentives to move to UAE is its tax free environment, especially for personal income. However, there might be municipal fees on properties, hotels and restaurants, above all after the introduction of VAT at 5% (for more information about the effects of VAT in United Arab Emirates, click here)
Cost of Living
In the main cities of UAE the general cost of living is comparable to that in many of the world’s biggest countries’ capitals. Even if there is almost no taxation, some costs may seem high, such as accommodation or for imported foods. All electronic goods are, instead, less expensive than in the West and utilities are regulated by the government of each emirate, so the costs may vary according to the location.
With increased investment in educational institutions, UAE is one of the most attractive destinations for foreign students. There are numerous private international schools for expatriates, along with top colleges and universities providing a western education. School rates are expensive. and their affordability depends on your income.
There are different types of Visas based on the purpose of your stay. If you are willing to visit UAE for tourism, you might first verify if you need to apply for your visa in advance or if it can be granted on arrival (contact us for more information).
Students attending a tertiary level university can obtain a student visa if all the criteria required by the specific institute are fulfilled.
Employees are sponsored by their company, that bears all the costs of the residence visa and, in some cases, also of the family dependents.
Please note that a residence visa is required in order to perform a variety of tasks, like obtaining a driving license, opening a bank account or renting a property on yearly basis.