Dubai, a glistening gem nestled in the heart of the Middle East, is a beacon of prosperity and cultural diversity. Whether you’re a professional seeking unique job opportunities, a retiree dreaming of a peaceful and luxurious lifestyle, or you simply wish to reunite with your family, Dubai has something for everyone. But is Dubai the right place for you? Let’s explore.

Why Consider Shifting to Dubai?

  • Career Opportunities: With a rapidly growing economy, Dubai presents abundant employment prospects in various sectors like finance, real estate, tourism, and more. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a young aspirant, Dubai can be the launchpad for your career dreams.
  • Family Living: Dubai is known for its high living standards, state-of-the-art healthcare, world-class education, and low crime rates, making it an ideal place for families to thrive.
  • Retirement: The recently introduced Retirement Visa has added another feather to Dubai’s cap, positioning it as an attractive retirement destination. With its beautiful landscapes, top-notch public facilities, and limitless entertainment options, Dubai can be a haven for those seeking a relaxed post-retirement life.

The Process to Acquire Work Permit and Visa

Securing a work permit in Dubai is a well-structured process:

  • Application by Employer: Your employer must apply for initial approval from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).
  • Entry Permit: Once approved, you will receive an entry permit, also known as ‘Pink Visa,’ which is valid for 60 days.
  • Medical Tests & Emirates ID: Upon your arrival in Dubai, you need to undergo specific medical tests and apply for an Emirates ID.
  • Work Permit and Residence Visa: Once you pass the medical tests, your employer will proceed to apply for your labor card (work permit) and residency visa.

The fees involved may vary, but the standard fee for the work permit is AED 200 for all categories, alongside an additional AED 100 service charge.

Banking Essentials

Creating a bank account in Dubai requires:

  • A passport with a resident visa
  • An Emirates ID
  • A salary certificate or a no-objection letter from your employer

The advantages of holding a local bank account include:

  • Ease of transactions
  • Access to online and mobile banking services
  • Access to credit cards and loans

Consider banking with local bank and institutions like:

  • Emirates NBD
  • Mashreq
  • FAB
  • ADCB (Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank)
  • Dubai Islamic
  • Emirates Islamic
  • RAKBank
  • ADIB (Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank)

If you want to choose an international institution then you have options like:

  • Standard Chartered
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Credit Suisse AG
    And more

Deciphering the Tax System

The tax system in the UAE is relatively straightforward:

  • Income Tax-Free: Individuals are not required to pay taxes on their personal income, which makes Dubai incredibly attractive to expats.
  • VAT: A Value Added Tax (VAT) of 5% was introduced in 2018. It is applied to the majority of goods and services, except for essentials like basic food items, healthcare, and education.

Even though there are no personal income taxes, certain sectors may be subject to corporate tax.

Utilising Money Exchange Services

Money exchange services are readily available and offer competitive rates. Renowned entities like UAE Exchange, Al Ansari Exchange, LuLu Money and Al Rostamani International Exchange provide dependable services. You may need their services for:

  • Exchanging foreign currency
  • Transferring money overseas

Be sure to compare the rates and charges as these can vary.

Visa Acquisition and Emirates ID

Visas are typically sponsored by the company you’re working for or a family member. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Employment Visa: Applied by your employer.
  • Family Visa: If your income exceeds AED 4000 or AED 3000 (including accommodation), you can sponsor your spouse, children, and dependent parents.

The Emirates ID is mandatory for all UAE residents and is used to avail government services like billing, fines, etc. It is procured through the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) and costs AED 100 per year of validity (usually 2-3 years).

Unraveling the Cost of Living in Dubai

It’s crucial to understand the cost of living in Dubai, as it directly impacts your financial planning. The city is known for its extravagant lifestyle and opulent shopping experiences. However, it’s perfectly feasible to live comfortably without overspending.

  • Accommodation: The cost of housing is the largest expense for most people in Dubai. Rental prices can vary based on location, type of property, and furnishings. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost anywhere between AED 3,000 and AED 7,000 per month.
  • Utilities: The average cost for utilities, including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, can range from AED 600 to AED 1000 per month.
  • Groceries: The cost of food is relatively low compared to other developed nations. On average, monthly groceries could set you back by AED 800 – AED 1000.
  • Transportation: Dubai’s public transport system is both affordable and efficient. A monthly pass typically costs AED 350 which enables you to travel seamlessly between the metro and buses.

Keep in mind that your cost of living can significantly depend on your lifestyle and spending habits.

Navigating Health Insurance

In Dubai, it is mandatory for all residents to have health insurance coverage. Legally, your employer should provide you with health insurance. Dependents also require coverage, and it’s the sponsor’s responsibility to ensure this. 

Acquiring a Driving License

If you wish to drive in Dubai, you will require a local driving license. Citizens from certain countries (including the UK, USA, Australia, among others) can convert their driving license without having to take a driving test, due to mutual agreements with the UAE. If your home country does not have such an agreement, you will need to enroll in driving lessons and pass a driving test. The total cost of obtaining a license can range from AED 5,000 to AED 25,000 or more, depending on the number of lessons you require, the type of learning you’d prefer and the category of license you apply for.

Understanding the Education System

Dubai boasts an impressive array of educational institutions catering to various curriculums like the American, British, IB, and Indian systems. The fees can significantly vary depending on the curriculum and the student’s grade. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from AED 10,000 per annum for a kindergarten student at a less expensive school to over AED 100,000 per annum for a high-schooler (Year 10 – Year 13)  at a top-tier international school.

Planning for Retirement in Dubai

Dubai offers a five-year renewable Retirement Visa for expatriates and their spouses. To qualify, you must be 55 years or above and have health insurance coverage. Additionally, you must fulfill one of the following conditions:

  • Own a property worth AED 2 million or more.
  • Have financial savings of at least AED 1 million.
  • Have an active income of no less than AED 15,000 per month.

Savvy Saving Tips

Living in Dubai doesn’t always have to be expensive. Here are some tips to help you save:

  • Use public transportation or carpool services wherever possible.
  • Shop during sales or at discount outlets, which are seasonal as well (January – Dubai Shopping Festival and July – Dubai Summer Surprises)
  • Take advantage of free amenities such as public beaches and parks.
  • Choose prepaid plans for mobile services and Wi-Fi.

To conclude, Dubai offers a plethora of opportunities for a rich lifestyle, professional growth, family life, and comfortable retirement. Though moving to a new country can seem overwhelming, understanding the paperwork and administrative details can make the transition smoother. In the next part of this guide, we will discuss the lifestyle, culture, and what to expect when living in Dubai.

About Author

Chaahat Mulani

About Author

Chaahat Mulani, a Dubai-based high school senior, has a keen eye for capturing the essence of everyday life through her engaging articles. Born and raised in Dubai, she blends her artistic sensibilities with her business acumen to write lifestyle pieces and aspires to have a career in Screenwriting. Beyond her academic achievements and writing prowess, Chaahat finds joy in music, dance, fitness, and exploring art, embodying a balanced blend of creativity and discipline.