"Moving to Dubai FAQs" Top 5 Page for this destination Dubai Travelogue by colin_bramso

Dubai Travel Guide: 3,967 reviews and 11,582 photos


We're regularly asked by people in all kinds of businesses how they can move to Dubai and what salary levels are.

Dubai has been hit like the rest of the world by the financial meltdown and there have been many redundancies, although many places have been hit harder than Dubai.

Finding a job has long been difficult and very competitive and is probably worse now because so many people with Gulf experience are looking for a new job.

The way the system works is that first you need an employer, who sponsors you for a residence visa and work permit. The only other way to obtain a residence visa is to buy a property in Dubai, but that does not give you a work permit. The latest rule (they change constantly!) is that owners of property bought for AED1 million or more will be eligible for six month multi-entry visit visas.

The reality is that Dubai isn't the place it once was for earning & saving good money, in fact in many jobs the salary is less than it was 20 years ago! Salaries have not been keeping pace with the rising cost of living, especially accommodation costs. Rents have been rising by up to 100% a year and although they have recently dropped dramatically they're still expensive.

Salary package varies enormously, depending on where you're from, your experience & qualifications, the industry, the company, the position. The Labour Law stipulates that all employees must be given annually a return air ticket to their home country and one month's vacation. They must also provide you with a Residence Visa, Labour Card and Health Card. Beyond that the package can vary from only a salary, from which you have to pay all your expenses, right up to a full expat package with everything you can think of included. I know people earning AED 650 a month with no other benefits and others AED60,000 a month with accommodation, car, medical, school fees & everything else added on.

Do as much research as you can, here on VT and by googling. Check out the local newspapers online, such as www.gulfnews.com and www.khaleejtimes.com Check out which companies from your country are operating in Dubai - maybe you can get an interview in your own country and ask for a Dubai posting.

Thousands of people are coming on a visit visa to look for a job, from the Philippines, sub-Continent, western and eastern Europe. They're able to attend interviews and you have to compete with them. So ideally come to Dubai on holiday, see as many relevant employment agencies and companies as you can while you're here. You are much more likely to be offered a job if they can interview you in person.


Whether Dubai's cost of living is expensive or not depends on where you come from. What do things cost in your home country, what are your living standard expectations? I think taxis are very cheap, Brits think they're incredibly cheap, Indians think they're expensive.

People from some countries will share accommodation or rooms, even beds, while people from other cultures won't.

The big expense is rent, which is high by most city standards. School fees, water, electricity, internet are also expensive as is alcohol and clubbing. Private health insurance is a sensible purchase - cost is about the same as Australia, others may think it's cheap or expensive depending on their home country. Food, petrol, cars, clothing, are all cheap.

Dubai has been hit by the world-wide recession of course, so rents have come down. As they're so volatile I can't give examples so you should check www.gulfnews.com for classified ads. for Dubai & the other Emirates.

School fees according to Gulf News:
Indian curriculum Dh2,750-Dh9,000 pa
British Dh28,000-Dh42,000
Australian Dh22,000-28,000
American about Dh47,000
Books, bus, uniform etc are extra.

For electricity/water for a two bedroom apartment budget an average of Dh500/month. For internet Dh149 - Dh349/month. Pay TV Dh150 upwards.


We're frequently asked on the Forum about life in Dubai - often as vague as "What's Dubai like?" Sometimes specific questions, such as "Can my wife wear western clothes?" or "Can my wife and I go out together?"

From its very beginning Dubai was a trading centre, exposed to foreigners and other cultures. Its people are welcoming, relaxed, they're comfortable to live in a cosmopolitan, international city.

Let me remind you that this is a Muslim country and that should be respected. Having said that, women are not restricted - they work, drive, go out on their own, can mix freely, go to nightclubs, can wear clothing of their choice - within reason.

Bikinis are fine on the beach or around the pool, but revealing clothing in the city is obviously neither sensible nor acceptable. If you are inappropriately dressed you may be refused entry to, for example, shopping malls.

Public displays of affection are not permitted.


"My boyfriend's been offered a job in Dubai & I'm planning to go with him. Can we live together."

We've had that question many times.

The answer is in two parts and the second is the most difficult to solve.

Firstly, it is illegal for an unmarried couple to live together in Dubai. Having said that, many couples do and they have no problem. However, you need to be sensible about it; for example don't attract the attention of the authorities by having noisy late-night parties that cause the neighbours to call the police!

The second thing is much more difficult. To live in the UAE you must have a Residence Visa. To get a Residence Visa you must have a sponsor - for example, your boyfriend's employer will be his sponsor. But your boyfriend will not be able to sponsor you. Only legally married people can sponsor their spouse, and the paperwork to prove you're married is daunting.

To live here you have to get around this problem, for example by finding a job yourself so that the employer will be your sponsor. Or of course, you could get married which would solve all the problems :-)


Other regular questions are "Is Dubai safe for a woman?" and "Can a woman go out on her own?"

The answer is that Dubai is still one of the safest cities in the world. Having said that, no city is completely crime free so simply use your common sense, as you would in any city.

Women can and do wander around on their own in all areas, including the narrow alleyways in the old souk areas and in the older parts of the city. It's normal to see women on the beach on their own or in groups.


Alcohol is only available in hotel bars, clubs & restaurants. Some hotels have British-style pubs - for example the Red Lion at Dubai Metropolitan on Sheikh Zayed Road, the Chelsea Arms at the Sheraton Dubai Creek and Aussie Legends at Rydges Hotel in Satwa are well-known pubs. Many hotels have night clubs/discos.

Non-Muslim residents with a Residence Visa can obtain a Liquor Licence with which they can buy alcohol in Liquor Stores/Off Licence/Bottle Shop (or whatever else you call them in your country).

Dubai Duty Free at the airport sells amazingly cheap alcohol and you are allowed to bring 4 bottles per person into Dubai.

There are hundreds of excellent, and inexpensive, restaurants all over Dubai but as they're not connected to hotels alcohol isn't available. If you can't have a meal without a drink you're going to miss out, because there are sonme excellent independent restaurants. They do sell a wide choice of fresh fruit juices and of course mineral water - fresh lemon & mint juice or cold watermelon juice goes down just as well as alcohol.

Note: there is zero tolerance for dinking & driving. Jail and deportation is almost automatic.


"What is there to do?" is another regular question.

It all depends on your interests of course, but there's plenty to do & see in and around Dubai. For example: the heart of Dubai the Creek, great beaches, many different water sports, amazing new shopping malls, wonderful old souks - the gold and spice souks are 'must sees', Heritage Village, museums, the traditional shopping areas, karting, dune bashing, dune boarding, desert safaris, cruises on the Creek, snow skiing, ice skating, city tours on open-top buses, eating out, clubbing, pubs, driving to other emirates through ever-changing desert, snorkeling/diving on the east coast, plenty of sports clubs.

There are regular world-class sporting events - Desert Classic golf, Dubai Open tennis, the Dubai World Cup, which is the world's richest horse race, offshore powerboat grands prix, motor racing...the list goes on and on. There are concerts and shows - The Vienna Opera, Moscow Ballet, symphony orchestras from Europe, stage shows such as Chicago & Broadway, stars such as Phil Collins, Lionel Ritchie, Bryan Adams, Chris de Burgh, Destiny's Child, Black Eyed Peas, Robbie Williams, Shakira...


How to get around Dubai? There is a growing network of bus routes with modern air-conditioned buses buses. The Metro train system began operations on 09/09/09 aound the city and along Sheikh Zayed Road to Jebel Ali. There are two lines, red and green, with several interchange stations.

Or there's your own car. To buy then is inexpensive, to run them is inexpensive, fuel is inexpensive.

Or you can use taxis, of which there are thousands. They're air-conditoned, have meters, the drivers quite often don't know the way to wherever you want to go. That's partly because a lot of them are new to the country and have no idea where anything is. It's also partly due to the fact that the roads change literally day to day, the pace of development is so frenetic, so we're all guessing where we're going half the time.

Getting from one side of the Creek to the other is a breeze though. The abra water ferries go back and forth all day long and the trip costs one dirham. There are several abra stations on both banks, in the old souk areas. There is also a new air-conditioned water bus service.

  • Page Updated Jan 18, 2013
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