Young Upstarts

All about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, ideas, innovation, and small business.

5 Things To Consider Before Moving To The UAE

While the UAE is one of the most expat friendly countries in the world and attracts expats from all over the globe, understanding the intricacies of Emirati culture, business and professional climate is essential if you want to get off to a good start. That’s why it’s important that you know exactly what to expect and how to navigate the waters of this totally new country before you leave.

Here are a few things anybody moving to the UAE should consider before making the move.

You’ll Need to Get the Proper Visa.

Anybody thinking of going to the UAE should be aware that they will need to apply for the proper visa first. You also have to understand the visa regulations for the exact emirate you’re going to, since each emirate is responsible for issuing visas and might apply rules differently. So, make sure that you contact the appropriate bodies in the emirate you were thinking of moving to understand where you stand and what will be expected of you.

Broadly speaking, people moving to the UAE for work will be required to apply for a residence visa, Emirates ID card, and a work permit. Your employer will be the one responsible for submitting your visa application. If you want to apply for a residence visa for parents or in-laws, then you’ll have to show that you’re making at least DH20,000 per month or DH19,000 with at least a 2-bedroom accommodation. The visa will be valid for a year and is renewable.

You will also be required to get all important marriage and birth documents legalised through the UK Foreign Office before you leave. Note that women who want to sponsor their families can only do so if they work in very specific positions. You also cannot sponsor partners either, since you have to be married in order to live with a partner in the UAE. And if you were thinking of applying for citizenship, know that it isn’t as simple in the UAE as it is in the UK. In order to get citizenship, you will need to be married to an Emirati for a minimum of 10 years. You can also gain citizenship if your father is a citizen.

Note that you can’t get a pensioner visa in the UAE, however, you can retire in the country if one of your children is working there and has sufficient income to sponsor you. If you end up retiring in the UAE, know that you’ll still have access to your state pension. However, it will be frozen at the exact level it was when you moved or began to collect it, so you won’t get annual increases.

You should also know that there is no public healthcare system for non-Emirati citizens and that you’ll have to sort out health insurance for yourself. Your employer should be the one taking charge of your medical insurance. If they don’t, then you can also try applying for a health card which will allow you to access cheaper treatment.

Getting a Job in the UAE.

While there are opportunities all over the country for expatriates looking for work, most of the jobs will be found in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. While the cost of living in these two cities is rather expensive, salaries in these cities largely make up for it.

While the oil sector remains one of the biggest employers in the UAE, the economy is very diversified and you can find jobs in all sorts of industries. Some of the UAE’s biggest industries include:

  • Aluminium
  • Construction
  • Fishing
  • Textiles
  • Shipbuilding and repair
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • Healthcare

Other sectors that are growing rapidly include education, engineering and construction, IT and telecommunications, retail, trade and logistics, and automotive manufacturing to name just a few. A lot of graduate jobs in the UAE, especially those revolving around the energy sector, are in need of candidates with a background in engineering, mathematics, science and technology. Some of the biggest employers in the region include companies like Microsoft Gulf, EMC and Omnicom.

If you want to improve your chances of finding a position, it would be wise that you do some research on the local job market before you leave. You also have to consider which route you’re going to choose when it comes to finding a position. Some expats might decide to get a job through a multinational company from their home country, but most will prefer to go through a recruitment agency to find a position.

Many job positions can be found online or through recruitment agencies. Other services will facilitate the whole process for you and connect you with the right recruitment agencies who will help you access a variety of jobs in UAE. All you’ll have to do is submit your CV with any pertinent information about you and they will connect you with multiple recruitment agencies. You will then be able to check the progress of your application by checking who the CV was sent to and do some follow ups.

You should also be aware that you might see things on job postings you wouldn’t see back home. For instance, it isn’t unusual for job postings to ask for people from a specific set of countries, a specific age, or a particular gender, so be prepared for that. Also know that you can always submit speculative applications, but you might need to have some connections in order for them to go through. Also, you will usually be required to undergo an interview and a medical examination before you’re offered a position.

Understand Local Work Conditions.

It’s very important that you understand the local working conditions, since there are some significant differences between the working climate in the UAE relative to the UK. For instance, while full time employees work 8 hours days, the working week is from Sunday to Thursday. Saturday and Friday are rest days. You should also know that working hours are restricted during Ramadan.

Also, most workers in the UAE get 22 days paid annual leave. There are also multiple national holidays and they fall on different days every year since they are set based on moon sightings. There are 10 national holidays in total every year, but note that you won’t get an extra day if a particular holiday falls during the weekend.

And last, but not least, know that you won’t be taxed on income when working in the UAE.

Tips for Families.

If you’re moving in with your family, there are a few things you’ll have to consider as well. First, you should know that there is no phased entry for students in the UAE and school officially starts in September for the wide majority of international curriculum schools and April for certain Asian countries like Pakistan, India or Japan.

School is mandatory for children during the year they turn 6 and most UK curriculum schools accept children by the age of 3. If you happen to move in during terms, then you may be able to register throughout the first and second term, but it all depends on the curriculum and where you’ll be moving to.

Note that you’ll be required to produce a “Transfer Certificate” from the school your child was enrolled with in order to register. The UAE school of your choice will provide you with a sample document that will need to be completed by the School’s principal and have the school’s stamp as well. The school you’re applying for will also specify the rules for attestation as well.

While it is advised to wait until the EID and visa process is completed, many schools will admit students while the process is underway. And if there are issues or delays with the application, regulatory authorities will usually be lenient and will allow for an extension on your Transfer Certificate, which is only valid for 30 days. However, you’ll need to get in touch with either Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority or the Abu Dhabi Education Council if you’re moving to either of these two cities.

Finding an Apartment in the UAE.

One of the things you’ll need to be aware of before moving to the UAE is the major differences between how UK and UAE rents work. In the UAE, most rents are paid on a bi annual, annual, or yearly basis and you’ll need to provide post-dated cheques in order to rent. So, if you were thinking of paying by the month, you will have trouble finding a landlord that allows you to do that in the UAE. While it is not uncommon for landlords to change rent prices, you should be aware of your rights. Know that your landlord will need to give you at least a 90-day notice before they increase the rent. Also know that there are various organisations, like the Real Estate Regulatory Agency, that will make sure that your rights as a tenant are respected.

The UAE is a great place to live in and offers tons of opportunities for expats looking for something new. Make sure that you follow the few instructions in this article if you want your transition to be as smooth as possible and make sure that you take advantage of everything the UAE has to offer.


Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

Tagged as: ,