In the modern world, the country where you were born no longer plays an important role. An active person with knowledge and skills does not have to agree to a low-paid job in their own country. You can look for more attractive options abroad.
For a long time, the developed European countries and the USA were the leaders in the labor migrants’ number. Citizens of poorer countries flocked here in search of a better life and work with a decent salary. Most of them wanted to stay in the state of their dreams but not return to their homeland.
Both Europe and the United States made it possible to obtain citizenship for many foreigners until the situation began to tilt toward the local residents’ rights infringement. This is especially evident in the example of European countries suffering from economic crises, terrorist attacks, etc.
Nowadays, Europe and the United States have ceased to be the object of labor migrants’ increased attention. A new powerful player has appeared on the market – the United Arab Emirates. Today this country, and Dubai in particular, is very popular among persons wishing to change their residence place.
Dubai is truly a universal land since both entrepreneurs and labor migrants can show up themselves here. The number of foreigners wishing to move to Dubai is so high that today the ratio of expats to locals is quite unusual (80-85% to 20-15%).
And there are good reasons for this, as Dubai has many advantages comparing to other regions and can offer them to expats. Although, of course, the most developed UAE emirate has some disadvantages too.
We have prepared 12 cons and 5 pros of Dubai for migrants.
12 benefits of Dubai for expats
Dubai has many positive aspects. The list may change depending on the purpose of your move to the UAE. However, the main advantages remain the same for entrepreneurs, employees, and luxury property hunters. In general, they are common for all categories of expats.
- City of opportunities
When choosing a country for permanent residence, a foreigner usually already knows what they want to get. These may be favorable conditions for doing business, high income employment, the opportunity to live in a rich, safe country, access to quality and affordable real estate, etc.
But the UAE is a unique country in this regard, as it provides expats with almost unlimited opportunities for a comfortable life. Moreover, all these opportunities are available both for an entrepreneur or a hired employee and for a rich person who invested money in local real estate and enjoys life.
All three paths will allow you to stay in Dubai, enjoying the region’s high living standard and safety, year-round access to the beach, and much more. Having received a UAE residence visa, you get almost equal rights with its citizens. And if you adhere to local laws, you will be able to live here for decades.
- Financial benefits (salary, business income, taxes, banks)
The Dubai government often receives accusations to create an Arab miracle, they use almost slave labor of the poor from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and other not rich countries. Such people earn only a few hundred dollars per month.
But it is rather difficult to blame the sheikhs because every year unskilled laborers come to the UAE in search of a better life. They agree to work hard on construction sites in Dubai because the offered low wages are still more than they can expect when coming back home.
Highly qualified specialists here can enjoy not only an excellent salary but also additional bonuses, including medical insurance, paid tickets for home visits, housing and car provided by the company, etc.
Businessmen who open a company here can also get excellent financial benefits. The living standard of locals and tourists here is extremely high, so with the right approach to business, you can count on excellent profits. The UAE is actually a tax-free jurisdiction, so both businessmen and wage workers can be sure that taxes won’t eat up most of their earnings.
Among other financial advantages of Dubai, we can highlight a developed banking sector. So, expats don’t have to worry about the safety of their savings.
- Constantly evolving real estate market
For more than 10 years, construction has not stopped in Dubai. New residential and commercial buildings are constantly appearing. All this has led to the fact that the emirate has no shortage of either office space or housing.
Foreigners have the right to acquire real estate in certain districts and dispose of it at their own discretion: rent, resell, bequeath to their heirs, etc. The cost of one square meter depends on the property area, its age, the district where the housing is located, and other factors.
Real estate in seaside areas and in the center of Dubai is much more expensive than in other sectors. At the same time, it is quite simple to choose a suitable real estate option at an affordable price, both for life and for business. If you don’t want to buy property, you can always rent it.
In addition, investing in UAE real estate allows you to obtain tax residency in this country.
- Convenient location
Dubai is a powerful trading hub due to its location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. From here, it will not be difficult for expats from different countries to visit their homes and travel during a well-deserved vacation. Dubai hosts two international airports that receive and send aircraft to all world capitals. This greatly simplifies the process of moving around the world.
- Excellent healthcare system
As soon as seven disparate emirates formed a single country, its ruler began to solve key issues of ensuring the normal life of the citizens. One of the most important points was the creation of a healthcare system practically from scratch.
The visit of the US mission hospital significantly contributed to the development of the UAE medical system in the early stages. The first country’s medical institution appeared in Dubai. Over several decades, the government managed to build a magnificent health care system with hundreds of hospitals and pharmacies, expensive equipment, and excellent specialists with western education.
Locals have the opportunity to use free medicine, but expats do not have such a right. Therefore, they have to pay much money for treatment. Fortunately, immigrants can significantly save on treatment by taking out annual medical insurance. Often this document is included in the social package that the employee receives from the employer.
- Ease of obtaining a residence visa
Migrants working abroad often complain that they have to stay there illegally because the legislation of many countries does not provide for temporary visas. The United Arab Emirates solved this problem by introducing residence and investor visas. These documents give an opportunity for businessmen who have opened a company in the UAE, employees of Dubai companies, and expensive real estate owners to live in Dubai. The validity of various visas ranges from 3 to 10 years with the renewal possibility.
Entrepreneurs and property owners apply for a visa on their own. Hired workers have to wait until the company they are going to work issues such a document.
A residence and investor visa does not require a huge package of documents (mostly identification documents will be needed). Visa processing time is usually from one to two weeks.
- High security level
Mostly all big cities, especially with large numbers of migrants, have security problems. Dubai did not follow their example and still remains one of the safest cities in the world.
Serious crimes, such as murder or rape, are extremely rare here. Most of the incidents are petty thefts, and they are typical only for certain not very wealthy districts.
A sufficient number of police officers constantly patrol the city, so that you can walk here both day and night. There are also quite severe punishments for criminals in Dubai that stop persons who intend to break the law. It is especially pleasant to live in such a safe city for families with small children.
- High quality of life
In fact, Dubai is known as a city of contrasts. Here, you can see poor immigrants working on construction sites and living in bad conditions and wealthy people living in villas by the sea or in luxurious urban penthouses.
But in general, the living standard for the majority of Dubai residents is extremely high. Moreover, this applies not only to the UAE citizens but also to expats. That is why you can make a good career, build a successful business and get rich in this country. In addition, people living in Dubai can enjoy all the benefits of a prosperous region: developed healthcare, educational and banking systems, entertainment opportunities, etc.
- Low prices on many products and services
Recently, Dubai has become a popular destination for shopping tours. And this is no coincidence because here you can find many goods and services at low prices, including clothes, furs, leather goods, cars, taxi services, servant and nanny services, computers and household appliances, etc.
Expats living here claim that food is also not very expensive. In addition, it is present in abundance both in stores and in the markets. Therefore, if you are going to cook on your own, you will not experience any serious problems.
Car owners will definitely like the fuel cost, which is much cheaper here than in many countries.
True, some groups of goods and services are very expensive. For example, real estate (especially new buildings) in Dubai is not cheap. Some expats also don’t like the free alcohol sale ban, which leads to restaurants and bars jacking up their prices.
- Lots of entertainment options
Expats should not think that their life in Dubai will be limited to work and to sit at home within four walls. There is a lot to do in this city.
You can visit beautiful public beaches, walk in parks, go sightseeing, frolic in entertainment centers, go to the cinema or theater for premieres, play sports, etc.
The nightlife in Dubai is also quite intense. There are so many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs here that it is unlikely you will have time to visit all of them at least once. Some establishments offer delicious cuisine and a pleasant atmosphere conducive to relaxation, and others provide the opportunity to enjoy watching an interesting program. Many restaurants and bars lure customers with live music or themed parties. In general, you will definitely not be bored here.
- Developed public transport system
Even though the UAE is rapidly developing in all areas, public transport is still a problem in most of the emirates. Dubai is a pleasant exception in this regard.
Firstly, it is the only UAE city with a subway system. Moreover, it pleasantly surprises with its cleanliness and the train comfort.
Secondly, many new buses run through the city streets, and even non-poor local residents use them. The city authorities have thought out the scheme of bus routes well. Bus stops are air-conditioned and allow everyone to spend minutes waiting in comfort.
Those who do not like either the subway or buses can take a taxi. There are countless taxi services in the city. There is even a special taxi service for ladies with pink cars and female drivers.
- No need to learn complex Arabic
The Arabic language is quite complex, especially the written one. Fortunately for expats, living in Dubai, doing business here, and working in a highly paid position is possible with a good knowledge of English.
All locals know English without exception. Business documentation in Dubai is often bilingual. Road signs, cafe menus, and much more are understandable for English-speaking citizens. True, not to face problems in Dubai, you will have to improve your knowledge of English (both oral and written) to a high level.
Your children will be able to learn not only English but also Arabic, since this subject is compulsory in all private schools. However, there are no exams for it.
5 disadvantages of Dubai for expats
It would be unfair to say that Dubai is completely devoid of flaws. Although, there are not so many of them here, and they are not so terrible to refuse to move to the UAE.
It was quite challenging to make this list for you because the cons of Dubai, which seem quite serious to some expats, are not a problem for others. We have selected the 5 most serious disadvantages that most migrants complain about.
- Unfavorable climate
On the one hand, it’s good that in Dubai, you don’t have to suffer from severe frosts, cold winds, heavy snowfalls, continuous rains, sudden temperature changes, etc. Also, you can save a lot on your wardrobe because you don’t have to take care of warm shoes and outerwear, which have never been cheap.
On the other hand, we can hardly call the weather conditions in Dubai too favorable. The local winter is still quite pleasant (the average temperature is +25 °C), but summer is quite difficult to endure for unaccustomed people. The summer months experience extremely high temperatures (+35°C – +45°C) and high humidity, although it may not rain for months. Sandstorms, which cause respiratory diseases, are also annoying.
Fortunately, all premises in Dubai are air-conditioned. If you are less outside in the summer, you will endure the heat much easier.
- Exotic traditions and legislation
The United Arab Emirates, including Dubai, live under Sharia law. It provides for the death penalty for serious (according to Muslim beliefs) crimes: premarital sex, drugs distribution, preaching atheism or a religion other than Islam, homosexual relations, adultery, etc. Foreigners do not have the right to violate local laws. Ignorance of these laws will not relieve you of serious responsibility.
There are restrictions on frivolous clothing, open expression of feelings (whether love or anger) in public places, communication with local women, and taking pictures of them.
Ramadan is a difficult month for foreigners in the UAE. During this period, you should not take food and drinks on the street, regardless of your religious beliefs. Many establishments in the city are completely closed.
Locals do not impose their traditions on expats but require to respect them. Therefore, it is better to familiarize yourself with the norms and the legislative framework of Dubai before your arrival.
- Traffic jams and original local driving style
Cars in Dubai are not too expensive, and international driving licenses allow to drive without additional permits. The traffic rules are almost the same as the rules of most countries, and petrol is very cheap. Therefore, many expats immediately rush to buy a car not to depend on public transport. However, they immediately face problems getting on the road.
The fact is that most drivers in Dubai are not too reverent about the traffic rules. Speeding, changing lanes or turning without an appropriate signal, carrying children in the driver’s arms, and other violations are common here. The only rule respected by local drivers is not to drive while intoxicated. For such a violation, it will not be possible to get off with a usual fine.
Another problem in Dubai is traffic jams, and even those who use public transport suffer from them.
Dubai, with the exception of a few green sleeping areas, is not a calm and quiet city. Many expats complain about the high noise level, which you cannot escape even at home. Its main sources are:
- endless construction
- many travelers in the high tourist season who like to walk until the morning
- endless car streams and horns that local drivers love to use when stuck in a traffic jam
- a call to prayer, sounding from mosques five times a day
A large, densely populated city will almost never delight you with the silence and peaceful atmosphere inherent in the suburbs. If you are not ready for such a life rhythm, perhaps, it is better to settle in neighboring quieter Abu Dhabi.
- Inability to obtain citizenship
Under the new rules, the UAE residence visa validity period can be up to 10 years. After this period, you will not be able to apply for citizenship. However, you can renew the visa if there are reasons (you still own expensive real estate, continue to run a business, or be employed in Dubai). You can extend your visa many times, but even a long stay in Dubai will not allow you to become a citizen. Even the children of expats born here do not become citizens. In this regard, the UAE remains a closed country and is unlikely to change in the near future. Fortunately, a residence visa is enough to legally live in the UAE indefinitely.
! Living in Dubai has many benefits and only a few disadvantages. You can see this for yourself if you choose to live in this active and developed region of the United Arab Emirates. We will be happy to assist you in the business migration to the Emirates, including registering a company and opening bank accounts in the UAE. Please get in touch with us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.