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11 Things to Know Before Moving to Dubai

Moving to Dubai airplane view

11 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Dubai

Dubai is undoubtedly one of the best cities in the world. It attracts hundreds of expats every year. According to a survey, the local Emirati community makes up about only 20% of the population. Most of the people are attracted to the lifestyle in Dubai, imagining themselves in supercars and posh penthouses overlooking the city. In recent years, the number of people relocating to Dubai has increased exponentially and is expected to be on the rise for the next few years.

We all know starting a new life in a different city is quite daunting and Dubai is no exception. You need to plan months before actually hopping on the plane. So, to help you out we have compiled a list of 11 things to know before moving to Dubai. If you are about to relocate to Dubai or planning to, make sure to check out all the points listed below:

1. Employment before relocation

We highly recommend you to get a job in Dubai before moving there. Many people do relocate to the city without a job and try their luck afterward, but better safe than sorry, right? Considering the price of regular commodities and services isn’t modest, it is always good to have some cash on your person. Taking all this into account that, we suggested that you find some form of employment while planning to move to Dubai. You can apply for the job beforehand and probably attend the interview or screening during a pre-visit.

In the event that you are alright with your finances and can go about with a source of income for some days or weeks, take the plunge. It’s also important to note that you will need a working visa to remain in the UAE. Now, whether you can get a visa on arrival in the UAE depends on your nationality. For example, citizens of GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia) don’t require a visa or permit. They will be permitted entry into the UAE once they produce their passport or national ID card.

The government of UAE offers a 30 and 90-day visa on arrival based on an individual’s country of origin. For example, US citizens with a regular passport are not required to apply for a visa beforehand and can get a visa upon arrival. We recommend that you check visa details on the official website before planning your relocation to Dubai.

2. Fast-paced life

Life in Dubai can be summarized in one word – busy! Much like other metros around the world, this city never sleeps. Everyone in the city is running around with a ‘to-do’ list and a stressed-out look on their faces. People coming from laid back cities or smaller towns are often intimidated by the hustle in the city. So, it is very important to be prepared for this hectic life, if you’re not already used to it. The more you accept this fact, the smoother your life will go in Dubai.

3. No income tax

In Dubai, you will not be charged for what you earn. Everything you get from your employer goes straight to your pockets. We can’t say what may happen in the future but this is how it is in the present. You are not required to pay any income tax in Dubai. But, this does not mean that Dubai is a tax-free haven.

Since the 1st of January, 2018, the government has imposed a 5% Value-Added Tax (VAT) on all commodities and services. So, the place is not entirely 100% tax-free. However, no income tax is a huge bonus. This is also one of the main reasons why Dubai (and the rest of the UAE) attracts so many expats.

4. Get familiar with the labour laws

It is always helpful to learn the labour laws of any country before relocation. In Dubai, when you organize your work contract, make sure to ask for what you deserve for your skills and abilities. Try not to demand beyond your worth. You can request annual full circle trips back home and accommodation allowances. Keep it in mind that not all firms will provide lodging expenses, but may offer you higher pay while considering housing and transportation costs. Also, make sure to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations on incentives and bonuses.

Dubai law

5. Abide by the rules

This is a no-brainer. You should always follow the laws of the country or city you visit, and Dubai is no exception. In fact, you have to be extra careful here. Unless you want to land in trouble, that is. If you commit even the simplest of offenses, you will end up getting arrested or deported. Trivial things like a public showcase of affection being prohibited might seem peculiar to many but ignoring such things might get you in trouble. As the adage goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.  So, always try to stay on the right side of the law and avoid things like getting drunk in public, buying counterfeit merchandise, clicking pictures of strangers without permission, and similar acts.

6. Weekend is different

Yeah, you read that right. The week begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday. Therefore, Friday and Saturday fall on the weekend. This is on the grounds that Friday is a sacred day in Islam and you are not supposed to work on this day. So, Friday can be considered your day off (in most cases) as you might end up working on Saturday sometimes. You might need a little time to become accustomed to it, but once you’re there, it feels just like a regular week.

7. Traffic in Dubai

Traffic in Dubai is a pain, just like most of the metropolitans around the world. There are no other words to describe it. The public transport in Dubai is no better. The Dubai Metro runs only two lines, so a majority of the areas in the city cannot be accessed by the metro. You might be inclined to use a bus for travel but make sure you start early. Buses often tend to get stuck in the traffic and a typical bus ride will take almost twice the time as a cab ride.

Traffic during peak hours (beginning of the day and after sunset) is especially frightful. For example, traffic towards Sharjah from Downtown Dubai after 5 PM. At first look, you might think that the highway has turned into a car park. Traffic in Sharjah, however, is much controlled. This is the reason why many prefer to reside in Sharjah.

Another important point is driving with or without a license. If you think you can get away while driving without a license or an unrecognized license, think again. Driving without a license is a serious felony in Dubai and the offenders are punished severely. Make sure to apply for a license as soon as you land in the city if you don’t have one. If you think that your license will be recognized by the city’s traffic officials, get it verified before jumping into the driver’s seat of a vehicle. We also recommend that you learn about the traffic laws of the UAE before you start driving.

8. Be smart about your accommodation

As mentioned before, driving in Dubai is a serious agony. So, the best course of action in order to avoid the onslaught of traffic is to find yourself accommodation which is near to your place of employment. The closer you live to your office, the better it is as you’ll spend less time stuck in the traffic. You will also not lose your precious morning sleep. However, it is important to note that your lodging budget will change considerably based on the locality you choose to live in. So, do the proper groundwork before finalizing your accommodation.

9. Manage your expenses

Life in Dubai is expensive. Well, it’s not like living in London or Paris but you can still consider it pricey. It may actually seem quite affordable if you have lived in other major metropolises like New York, Singapore, or Seoul. According to a report in The National, living in Dubai is 28% less expensive than New York. With the introduction of VAT in 2018, the price of commodities saw a marginal hike but it’s almost similar to US or UK markets.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to have a financial plan so that you don’t end up losing more than you’re earning. Your employer may offer you a much higher salary but that amount might just be sufficient to pay for your bills and live a decent life. So, manage your earnings and expenses well.

Dubai city view

10. Prepare yourself for the heat

Summer in Dubai is not at all pleasant. You might have already heard how hot the city can get during the summer. Nonetheless, you will realize how hot it truly is when you actually start living there. This heat is one of the biggest reasons why Dubai is replete with indoor parks and malls.

Every public and private space in the city is fitted with air-conditioning which helps in bearing with the heat. If you are not used to this, you will take some time to adjust. Another option to escape the heat is to escape the city. Most of the people spend the entirety of their summer vacations outside the country in a colder destination of their choice.

11. Watch out for gas stations

There is no doubt that petrol and diesel are less expensive than any other place on the planet. So, you don’t have to worry about fuel expenses much. What you really have to worry about is to locate a gas station while running low on fuel. This is because Dubai has an absence of gas stations in what you consider as common areas. They are in inconvenient areas and when you need them urgently, they are unreasonably far. Additionally, more often than not, you will have to wait in long queues. If you wanna skip the lines, try going in at early morning hours or late at night.

Finally, the most important piece of advice for people who wanna move to Dubai is – get rid of all your prejudices. Once you have done that, you are ready to start your new adventure in a city that is teeming with life. Dubai is truly unlike any other city in the world. Every corner of this metropolis is full of fun, energy, and wonders.

Life in Dubai is never boring. Every day in the city brings a new set of adventures. Just keep an open mind, respect the culture, and have fun. The doors of the city are always open to those who want to call Dubai their new home.