Britons should feel right at home in this nation of expats, who benefit from breath-taking scenery and tax-free incomes. The country climbed seven places between 2008 and 2013, jumping from 10th to 3rd most popular location for UK migrants as many sought a tax-free buffer against the unfavourable job market back home.
However, relocating to the UAE from the UK is a big change but offers a priceless experience for many. Differences in language, customs, religion and climate are all a challenge but those willing to tackle these initial issues will no-doubt find Dubai very welcoming, considerably more diverse and much more affordable than the UK. In addition, the thriving expat community offers vast opportunities for a great social life with an array of sporting options.
Media reports about Dubai are often misrepresented, for example, you can buy alcohol in bars and specialist venues that have a liquor licence granted to non-Muslims.
Expats don’t have to adhere to an Islamic dress code and you can buy some meat in the western section of some supermarkets. As rumour has it, kissing in public is generally frowned upon, as are offensive hand gestures that could even land you in jail.
While visas for permanent residency can be easy to obtain for those working full-time, it’s virtually impossible for those without. With this in mind, you really shouldn’t consider a move to Dubai unless you have a job which will lead to a work permit and in turn lead to residency, the right to rent an apartment and access healthcare and good schools for your children.
Dubai was previously seen as a mere business hub for the oil industry but today those revenues make up less than 7% of its income with the city radically diversifying the economy to include real estate, construction, trade, financial services and tourism.
This gradual transformation has slowly seen the landscape and population change with Dubai skyscrapers continuing to shoot up, piercing the stunning blue skyline while man-made islands create many new real estate and tourism opportunities. Citizens have also become a minority, as foreign workers are attracted to sustain the boom. Opportunities for people moving to Dubai are therefore plentiful and many have taken advantage of the low crime rates, enhanced spending power and reasonable property prices.
In fact, moving from the UK to Dubai will make you wonder how you ever managed to survive in a country as expensive as the UK. Everything from food to basic utilities is cheaper. Although you will find yourself paying a premium for alcohol and most fashion items.
Dubai is generally safer than most of the large UK cities and property is on the whole more affordable, although traffic can get very busy at times. Culturally, Dubai doesn’t have the most thriving music or arts scene although the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a good place to start and there are occasionally huge outdoor music concerts featuring popular acts from around the globe.
There are also nature reserves, scenic parks, a well-curated museum, a racecourse, some of the world’s most ambitious modern architecture to admire and golf courses aplenty.
Dubai is largely desert with temperatures exceeding 40 °C in the summer months and no rainfall except occasionally from December through to March. The city’s property prices crashed dramatically after the global financial crisis though the other Emirates offered assistance in 2012, mitigating the effects of the property crash and leading to prices rising again.
Until 2006 there wasn’t the option of freehold for foreign property owners but that has since changed. If you are looking to buy a property, taking out a mortgage can be a complicated affair so obtaining professional advice is recommended. It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are currently no property taxes in Dubai.
When it comes to educating your children, there’s a great deal of choice. School fees are a lot more affordable than the UK and those families looking for a British curriculum have around 60 schools to choose from. The American curriculum is also well represented with over 20 secondary schools teaching it including the very exclusive GEMS World Academy, the Dubai American Scientific School and the International School of Arts and Sciences. There are also two German, six French, six Iranian, eight Pakistani, 40+ Indian, Bangladeshi, Swedish, Japanese and Russian schools with special needs schooling being rarer and costing considerably more. Furthermore, many large foreign universities have also set up institutions at the Dubai International Academic City located 40 km southeast of the centre of the city.
Research has found that nearly half of expats who move to the UAE encounter problems because they do not have sufficient practical information about their new home. PSS International Removals are UK’s first choice for moving overseas and we have successfully helped thousands of people move to UAE. We are able to offer you a professional service including additional visa, employment, banking, currency, pension transfer, pet shipping, tax rebate, education, and flight and property advice through our network of trusted partners.