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Moving to the United Arab Emirates Top Tips

Nov 16. 2022

Here’s our top five tips on moving to the United Arab Emirates and starting a new life there: 

1. Make sure you have private medical cover
It is notable than in the UAE there are more private hospitals than public. When it comes to healthcare, anyone who isn’t an Emirati national only has access to emergency treatments. If you plan to live in Dubai, unless you are an Emirati national, it is mandatory that you have private medical cover.

Employers will often provide access to private treatments, but not always- so it’s important to clarify if this is included in the package your employer is providing.

2. Research living costs
The United Arab Emirates doesn’t boast a low cost of living. A one bedroom apartment in the city centre of Dubai will set you back £1,500 a month. A bottle of beer can cost £11.40. 

There is of course the benefit of there being absolutely zero income tax, so whatever you earn you take home, but do make sure that your income will cover your cost of living.

3. Be prepared for the cultural shift
The UAE has a good supply of restaurants and bars with drinks licenses and many have happy hours. Just be mindful that there is a certain amount of stigma around drinking and it isn’t accepted in the same way that many UK companies will accept colleagues going for ‘after works drinks.’ In the UAE it’s best not to talking about it at work.

The legal age for consuming alcohol in Dubai is at least 21. There is zero tolerance for underage drinking, public drunkenness, and drink driving. Nor can you drink in the street or be publicly drunk as it’s an offence under UAE laws. If you’re moving to the United Arab Emirates it’s important to know and respect the rules.

Also remember that weekends are different. As Friday is a holy day in Islam, weekends in the UAE are Friday and Saturday. Sunday is the first day of the work week.

If you’re a woman making the move, research the cultural and legal restrictions of the UAE. For example, you’ll need to cover your shoulders, knees and neckline if you’re at work or in a public space (except the beach.)

4. Seek a professional service when it comes to moving household effects
If you’re moving household effects with you to the UAE, it’s important to use the services of a professional international moving company who are experienced in handling shipments to and from the UAE. Look for accreditations like BAR and FIDI and book a house moving survey with them so that you can obtain an accurate quotation. Using a professional moving company for your move to the UAE, who are used to dealing with the rigours of the international moving process will save a lot of heartache in the end.

5. Fluency isn’t essential, but make an effort with the language

English is very widely spoken in the United Arab Emirates as there is an extensive community of expats. However, as with most moves abroad, if you can learn even the smallest amount of Arabic, you’ll find it easier to bond with the locals. Just showing an interest in speaking the country’s mother tongue shows a respect for the place and its people.


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