Moving to the United Arab Emirates can be a rich and exciting experience. The UAE, as the country is commonly known, is a federation of the 7 emirates, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. These emirates function in much the same way as principalities do, and each offers a unique and rewarding experience for the people moving to the area.
Interestingly, unlike many countries around the world, roughly 80% of the population of the UAE are expat workers. This lends itself well to one of the smoothest transitions in the world of international relocation. The vast majority of these expats moving to the UAE often move to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, though there are expat workers spread out across the entire country. Wherever you choose to relocate in the UAE, you’ll find yourself in a truly stunning, multicultural environment.
Life in the UAE
Life in the UAE is very different to what you may be used to in the West. For example, as a conservative Muslim country, things like alcohol and pork something that can only be obtained in the UAE at specific places with the appropriate licenses. There are other things to be aware of, such as the fact that Labour law in some emirates states that your employer must provide you with health insurance. There are several different insurance options available, so be sure to check what exactly your company is providing when you receive your contract.
It’s also worth noting that while Arabic is the official language in the UAE, English is the most widely spoken language. As long as you’re proficient in English, you can get by in the UAE just fine.
One of the reasons that the UAE is so massively attractive to expat workers is the fact that the UAE is a tax-free country. While the notion of keeping 100% of your income is very appealing to many people around the world, life in the UAE isn’t cheap. In fact, the cost of living in the UAE can be quite high, especially in the enormous urban metropolises of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Housing is one of the main reasons for this, with people paying for accommodation on a yearly, not monthly basis. This can often catch people out when they don’t read their contract closely enough, so make sure you check your contract to see if/how your company can support you with your housing costs.
Expat schooling in the UAE
The second thing you need to be aware of when moving to the UAE is the cost of schooling. Unlike many countries around the world, the UAE doesn’t offer expat workers a state schooling system; the only schools available are private international schools, which often come at a steep cost. The most popular schools also tend to be oversubscribed, leading to long waiting lists and expat workers having to send their children to schools slightly further away than initially hoped.
Fortunately, it’s never too early to start looking into schooling in the UAE if you’re relocating to the area; if this is something that you would like help with, we offer a school search service here at Santa Fe which can help you and your children get settled. It’s also worth being aware that some companies have taken the price of schooling into consideration, and may offer a monetary allowance for this; as with your housing, be sure to check your contract to see what your company is offering.
Once you’ve taken care of these two major expenses, you’ll often find that other necessities such as groceries, clothes and, of course, petrol, are all reasonably priced. If you’re considering relocating to this exciting country, make sure you contact our local office today.