Life in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a unique experience. Home to a diverse range of nationalities, a nightlife that rivals that of London and New York and absolutely zero income tax, the Gulf state has a lot to offer. Luckily, it's not too difficult to move everything you own around the world, especially if you use the form above.
There is much to recommend about life in this country. where the sky is almost always blue. Here are the top five reasons to live in the United Arab Emirates:
- It ranks second in the region in terms of happiness and 26th in terms of of happiness. the world. Happiness index. But the country aims to become one of the five happiest countries in the world and has even appointed a Minister of Happiness in 2026. So why not get on the love train?
- The climate and beaches are incredible. If you like sunbathing after a day of work, the United Arab Emirates is for you.
- In fact, everything is wonderful, from the artificial islands off the coast of Dubai to the highest islands in the world. Tower, Burj Khalifa. There is also much natural beauty, including the wonderfully named Empty Quarter (Rub' al Khali), the largest continuous sand desert in the world. If you've always wanted to see the vast expanses of sand from Disney's Aladdin in real life, now's your chance.
- As an expat, you're in good company. Although the population of the United Arab Emirates is approximately 10 million, over 88% of residents are from abroad (United Nations, 2021). This means a huge variety of interesting cultures and foods and, best of all, you won't be alone: embassy data shows that 120,000 people from the UK and 50,000 from the US live in the UAE.
- Don't there are almost no taxes there. In 2018, the government introduced VAT on most goods and services for the first time, at the low rate of 5%, but that's about it. No income tax. Everything you do is up to you.
- As tempting as these reasons may be, remember that you might be surprised if you decide to take the plunge in this Gulf state. Homosexuality remains illegal in the UAE, while women may face serious challenges given the country's stance on abortion, rape and domestic violence.
If you can overcome this culture shock and find a decent job, you will be in a prime position to take advantage of what United Arab Emirates have to offer, the States have to offer. We'll help you get the most out of your move with these ten most important things you need to know.
1. What is the difference between the different emirates?
The United Arab Emirates consists of seven emirates that gained independence in 1971 and founded the country after the British army stopped protecting the region. If you're moving for work, you'll probably go to Abu Dhabi (which includes the capital of the United Arab Emirates, most of its population and 87% of its territory) or Dubai, the country's spectacular business hub.
Abu Dhabi is home to the impressive Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the city of Abu Dhabi, the country's largest place of worship and the largest economy in the United Arab Emirates. In 2022, the emirate's gross domestic product (GDP) was around £184 billion, which is a lot for an area less than a quarter the size of the United Kingdom.
Dubai's GDP now stands at around £87 billion, and when we consider this fact, along with the emirate's incredible skyline and man-made islands, we can begin to understand why Dubai International Airport is one of the ten busiest in the world.
2. Don't forget to visit the other emirates
Although the urban centers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are endlessly pleasant, the other emirates also have their own unique charm and are worth exploring, especially since their photographs are ideal for Instagram. Landscapes.
In addition to Ajman, a predominantly agricultural region, there is Fujairah, an emirate with picturesque landscapes and mountains, which is also home to 'Al-Badiyah. Mosque located. Built over 650 years ago and still in use. And although, as a foreigner, you are prohibited from buying land or owning most businesses, you can enjoy many water sports, such as windsurfing, water skiing and scuba diving.
You can also take a sea and sun themed trip to Ras Al Khaimah, an emirate with 64 kilometers of coastline, and the world's longest zip line at Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the United Arab Emirates.
Be careful when visiting Sharjah, where the law requires everyone to dress conservatively and prohibits drinking in public (and only in private if you have permission). You are also prohibited from having contact with members of the opposite sex if you are not married to them.
But if none of this matters to you, offer that Sharjah has everything a museum has to offer, from vintage cars to a palace and an aquarium, and for those who are more interested in exploring nature, there is a mangrove forest, a walk and a magnificent bird of prey centre.
The United Arab Emirates combines Islamic history and culture with many Western attractions, and nowhere is this more evident than in Umm Al Quwain. The emirate has a majestic 18th century fortress and historic architecture, as well as a water park with an area of 250 thousand m² and a daily capacity of 10 thousand people. Dreamland Water Park offers more than 30 rides, slides and attractions and is open year-round.
3. What is healthcare like in the UAE?
As an expat, your company will likely give you access to private healthcare. In fact, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where you will most likely work, the law requires expats to purchase private insurance.
If you find yourself in another emirate and not this one. If you do not have private insurance, you can rest assured that the public health system will continue to provide high-quality care. However, according to Allianz, it can be difficult for foreigners to find their way around and there is overcrowding. To take advantage of it, you also need a health card from the Ministry of Health, which is similar to the CPF.
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4. Make sure you can afford to move.
Life in the UAE is not cheap. Statistics compiled by Numbeo show that renting a three-bedroom apartment in central Abu Dhabi or Dubai costs more than £2,500 a month, and even everyday expenses such as coffee cost around £5 and beer up to £10.
If you are from a big city like London or Los Angeles, be prepared for these types of prices. As always, make sure your salary fits your lifestyle. This calculation is facilitated by the total absence of income tax in the United Arab Emirates.
5. Life in the UAE is a cultural change, but yes, you can still drink.
The UAE can be your dream place, as long as you stick to the rules. First of all, remember that the weekend is Friday and Saturday (Sunday is the first day of the working week), since Friday is a holy day in Islam.
If you want to have fun with alcohol on a Thursday night, do it, but don't talk about it at work because there is still a stigma attached to it. There are many bars and restaurants with liquor licenses and most bars in Dubai offer happy hours. Ladies can also enjoy Ladies Night, usually on Tuesdays, and there are plenty of brunch options with all-you-can-eat food and drinks.
Be careful if you are used to this lifestyle. , United Kingdom: The legal drinking age in the United Arab Emirates is 21 and identity is verified. Drinking on the streets is also illegal and there is a zero tolerance policy towards drug use, which can lead to deportation or arrest.
6. In fact, be prepared for many unexpected laws.
Although you can find bars, clubs and restaurants with drinking permission everywhere except Sharjah, you should watch out for other unusual restrictions. You can go to prison if you gossip, swear (whether in real life or on WhatsApp), raise money for charity without a license, bring food containing poppy seeds or take photos of people without their permission.
You can be deported for all of these crimes, and you can even be forced to leave the country (and risk a five-figure fine) if you take photos of traffic accidents.
Sex outside of marriage is also prohibited, meaning you and your partner must get married before moving to the UAE, otherwise you will spend at least a year in prison. .
7. What is life like for foreign women in the United Arab Emirates?
Although it is generally safe to walk the streets, there are some conditions that apply to being a woman in the United Arab Emirates. You don't have to wear a hijab, but make sure you cover your shoulders, knees and décolleté when you're at work or in a public space, unless the location is the beach.
On public buses, sit facing the women's section and try not to make direct eye contact with men you don't know.
Also keep in mind that women were often rejected, or even arrested, after accusing men of rape or domestic violence. Abortion is also illegal in the UAE, unless the life of the person giving birth or her baby is in danger. This can lead to up to a year in prison.
Aside from these restrictions, living as a woman in Abu Dhabi (or almost any other emirate) is considered valid. . very similar. life in the West. You can drive, drink and move around the country on your own without any problems.
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8. What is it like to work in the UAE?
If you move to a Gulf state for work, you will probably go to Abu Dhabi or Dubai, where most of the jobs are located. Most of these roles are performed by men, who make up the vast majority of the population and workforce. The UAE government reported that in 2021, 91% of men aged over 15 were employed, compared to only 52% of women.
While the country's economy and tourism, which depends largely on oil, government agencies and construction, is booming, especially in Dubai, which was the sixth most popular tourist destination in the world in 2023 , according to studies by Mastercard and Euromonitor International.
But expats from Abu Dhabi or Dubai usually come to the UAE to work in accounting, finance or IT, unless they work for a multinational company like Microsoft, AstraZeneca, DHL, FedEx, Marriot. or Hilton Worldwide, who have offices in the country.
There are many additional resources when it comes to working in the United Arab Emirates. In addition to tax-free income, many companies also offer their employees housing assistance, subsidies for their children's schooling, health insurance and even free plane tickets home.
However, be careful: the UAE has different labor laws. If you're thinking about joining a union or going on strike, don't. This is a criminal offense that can result in your deportation.
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9. Do you need to learn Arabic?
If you learn a little Arabic, it will be easier to interact with your colleagues and locals. As in any country, learning a few languages shows that you respect the place and its people. However, English is widely spoken and the large number of expats in Dubai and Abu Dhabi means there is always a community available should you need it. By using an online forum like InterNations, you can easily stay in touch with other people in the same situation as you and even ask for advice before your trip.
There are also plenty of Pub forums and British restaurants in Abu Dhabi and Dubai if you want to eat Banger and Mash or Toad in the Hole.
10. What do I need to do to live in the United Arab Emirates?
You can get a free 30-day visa if you are a citizen of several countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada. and Ireland, and extend it for another 30 days during your stay. You're probably looking for something long-term. In this case, you will need a sponsor.
It can be anyone who lives permanently in the UAE. , but if you're moving for work, this will probably be the business for you. Your sponsor will apply for a 30-day residence permit on your behalf before extending your stay while you are in the country. All you need to do is provide a copy of your passport; Your company should take care of the rest.
Expatriates living in the UAE can provide you with financial support to bring relatives, such as your spouse and children, with you . We must therefore leave no one behind. Also make sure you get an ID card from this government website as everyone living in the UAE is required to have one.