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In Job cities: discovering Dubai

04 November, 2014

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Date of Publication: 04 November, 2014
Dubai has suffered the economic crisis like every other city in the world, but ultimately it’s a place of financial charm, and many foreign companies and international financial institutions still decide to relocate there. If you want to become an expat in Dubai, be ready to face a truly mysterious city.

First and foremost: the city is a melting pot of people coming from all over the world. The Western civilization and the more traditional local society make for a striking scenario. And many find it overwhelming.

Moving to Dubai requires a lot of paperwork that, of course, is easier if the company that hires you is also taking care of your visa. But if you are moving with your family and you are responsible for their visas, things can get complicated, with different rules applying if the sponsoring spouse is the wife. Plus, in order to be eligible to sponsor your family, you’ll have to show proof of a rental contract in your name or in that of your company.

Depending on your own country, attesting documents can also be tricky: be sure to plan your bureaucracy strategy ahead and check with the UAE Embassy for everything you need to have (e.g. degree certificate and other relevant educational qualifications will be needed as a general rule, but it may vary depending on your contract).

Cost of living

Life in Dubai is not cheap. As much as you’re going to get your tax-free salary, you have to be very careful not to burn it under the desert sun. A two-bedroom apartment in the expat neighbourhoods is going to cost you about AED 100,000-150,000 per year. And many rental contracts will require you to pay the annual rent upfront.

Home staff is comparatively cheaper, as is the transportation system and, of course, the fuel.

Food and dining costs depend strictly on your preferences: go local and you’ll be able to save quite a bit.


It is illegal for a man and a woman who are not married to cohabitate in the UAE. Dubai is no exception, but given the great number of Western unmarried couples who live together, this law is not enforced neither adhered to. However, it is better to keep a low profile. In some cases couples opt to wear “wedding rings” and call themselves husband and wife.


A far cry from being a “dry” emirate, Dubai is not the easiest place where to buy alcohol. As a rule, the easiest option is to buy and drink it at a hotel restaurant (the only facility that can sell alcohol). Purchases for private consumption are possible only with a liquor licence that you can obtain with a letter from your employer, plus a copy of the residence permit and passport.


The first working day of the week in UAE is Sunday and the weekend is over Friday and Saturday. Most of the government and public offices are closed on Saturday; however this does not always apply to the private companies. For example some work half day on Thursday while others are off for two days on weekends or just on Friday only.

We avoided to mention the weather, as you’ll already know it is very hot and almost unbearable from May to September due to humidity – but air conditioning is everywhere to soothe you and your soul.

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