Things To Know Before Moving to Dubai

  • June 18 2024
What To Know Before Moving to Dubai

Are you thinking of moving to Dubai? Do you have questions about the moving process? How is the job market and the healthcare system in the UAE?

What are the things required for moving to Dubai? How’s the work culture there? Or what are the modes of transportation?

These are a few things you should know in advance before moving to Dubai.

In this detailed guide, we will answer everything for you. Here's a checklist that offers a comprehensive expat guide on what to know before moving to Dubai.  

Key Attractions and Reasons for Moving to Dubai

attractions in Dubai

Approximately 11.5% of Dubai’s GDP comes from tourism, compared to the 8.9% average for the Middle East.  

Dubai is a city with lots of attractions and compelling reasons to consider relocating there. There are many appealing features that contribute to making Dubai an excellent choice for both living and working.

Here are some notable highlights and reasons for moving to Dubai:

  • Burj Khalifa: The building provides breathtaking views from its observation deck, making it a must see for both tourists and locals.
  • Dubai Mall: Ranking among the world’s best shopping centers, it offers an array of shops, eateries, an aquarium and even an indoor ice rink catering to shopping enthusiasts and entertainment seekers.
  • Palm Jumeirah: This artificial island has multiple hotels, dining options and beaches offering a great experience for tourists and residents alike.
  • Desert Safari: Get on an adventure with activities like dune bashing, camel rides and traditional Arabian performances in the desert.
  • Cultural Fusion: Dubai serves as a melting pot of cultures where individuals from around the globe coexist harmoniously. This creates an inclusive environment.
  • Employment Prospects: With its thriving economy, Dubai presents job opportunities across sectors such as finance, technology, healthcare, tourism and construction.
  • Safety Standards: Renowned for its lowest crime rate and strict regulations, Dubai ensures a safe living environment for its residents.
  • Quality of life: Dubai provides a top-notch quality of life with its amenities, exceptional healthcare and educational resources. 
  • Tax free: Enjoy tax free income in Dubai allowing you to keep more of what you earn.
  • Warm Weather: The warm and sunny weather throughout the year in Dubai is ideal for sun lovers.  

Read also: Best Places to Invest in Rental Property in Dubai, UAE

Renting vs. Buying: What’s the Best Option for Me?

buying vs renting

If you're thinking about moving to Dubai, this is one of the most important matters that you should consider. It's crucial to weigh the options between renting or buying a home.


rent an apartment in Dubai

  • Flexibility: Renting provides flexibility making it easier for you to relocate if your circumstances change.
  • Lower Initial Costs: Renting only requires a security deposit and rental payments which are typically upfront costs compared to buying a property.
  • Maintenance: Landlords usually handle repairs and maintenance tasks reducing your stress.


  • Long Term Investment: Purchasing property can be an investment since real estate prices in Dubai often go up over time.
  • Stability: Owning a home offers stability and the freedom to customize your space as you see fit.
  • Initial Costs: Buying comes with initial expenses such as a down payment, mortgage fees and maintenance costs.


2 Important Factors to Consider

  1. Job Security: It's important to have job stability since it impacts your ability to cover rent or mortgage payments.
  2. Duration of Stay: If you're planning on staying long-term, buying could be more advantageous. For short stays, renting is usually the best choice.

For detailed information, read our guide about buying vs. renting an apartment in Dubai (what’s the best option for expats).

Job Market & Visa Requirements

passport and visa

Here, the question is: does moving to Dubai and living there require a job offer?

Yes. Even if you won’t necessarily need a job to live in Dubai, it’s still a good idea to get an offer of employment before you leave your home country.

Getting a job will not only help you pay the costly rentals in Dubai, but your company will also be responsible for paying your health insurance and visa.

Also, proof of employment is required for many local tasks, including opening a bank account.

Now, let’s talk about the job opportunities...

UAE is one of the richest and most hospitable countries in the world. Foreign nationals hold 8 out of 10 occupations in Dubai, and the government actively encourages the creation of new jobs.

Local Culture

toursim and culture in Dubai

Every country has its cultural norms, traditions and way of life. Despite being a country that loves open mindedness, the government functions within an Islamic framework that is deeply rooted in Islamic traditions and values.

As a result, there are expectations regarding modest behavior for all residents in Dubai. Foreigners and expatriates are expected to show respect for customs by dressing.  

While the concept of modesty in Dubai is more lenient compared to other areas, individuals are still encouraged to dress in attire that covers them from shoulders to knees.  

While beach and resort clothing may be suitable in tourist areas, it is important to uphold modesty when in public spaces.

Overview of the Healthcare System

The healthcare system in Dubai is a bit challenging for foreigners to access it. As a result, it is important to have solid medical insurance coverage to protect yourself against any unforeseen health problems.  

This means you must have health insurance!

Well, it’s a good idea to talk about medical insurance with your new employer if you are moving to Dubai for work.  

Similarly, to visit a doctor in Dubai, you must be aware of your insurance company and policy number. Also, your employer is required to supply you with health insurance.  

Make sure the hospital or clinic is covered by your insurer before making an appointment with a doctor.

You can get a list from your HR, or you can contact the insurance company to find out for yourself.

When visiting the medical center, make sure to find out your insurance number as you will need it. You should also be prepared to bring your Emirate ID, as a copy will be made upon your arrival.

Making an appointment is simple, most locations accept reservations through WhatsApp or via online platforms.  

Read also: Top 10 Hospitals in Dubai

Work Culture and Expectations

Dubai culture

In Dubai, your personal and work life are closely related.

Everything, we mean everything, is sent to your employer rather than your home address if you are an expat.

This is justified by the fact that your employer is the most trustworthy source of information because they are also most likely to be your sponsor.

There's more...

Your employer’s approval is required before you open a bank account in Dubai. A no objection letter from your sponsor is required, and depending on your bank, you could also need a pay slip/salary certificate.

Let's discuss the work culture now...

An average workday in Dubai lasts 8 hours. In the tourist and service industries, a typical workday lasts 9 hours.

Sunday used to be the start of the work week but since 2022, Monday is the first day of the week just like in other countries. The average vacation period varies from 12 to 25 days.  

Either you or the employer may end the agreement at any time after the probation period. Notice should be given to the other party one month in advance.

If the employee quits their contract before they have completed a year, the employer has the right to seek payment for all associated costs (such as travel expenses and paperwork).

Public Transportation Options

Dubai metro line

There's no escaping the traffic in Dubai, especially in peak hours.

There is a lot of roadwork going on in a city that is always developing, innovating, and competing to build the next big tower.

Traffic is heavy because nearly everyone drives a car. When their 20-minute commute turns into an hour-long trip, expats should prepare themselves by thinking of ways to escape rush hour. Unless you choose public transportation.  

When it comes to public transportation, Dubai offers a wide variety of options: the metro line, buses, taxis, water taxis, trams, ferries, you name it!

By far the most widely used mode of transportation is the Dubai metro. It is not only economical but also extremely clean.  

In addition, different taxis apps are also available in Dubai.

There’s 5% VAT on Everything

The era of tax living ended when VAT was introduced in 2018. Despite being set at 5 percent, this levy appears low compared to the rates in other countries that already implement VAT or similar forms of taxation.  

For example, in the UK, VAT stands at 20 percent. This tax is applicable to a range of products and services including dining out, fuel purchases and hotel accommodations.

Connecting with Other Expatriates

expats in Dubai

Due to the large number of foreign residents in Dubai, numerous expat communities and clubs have emerged throughout the city.  

You can join business groups to network with like-minded individuals. Certain business groups host courses and frequent networking lunches.

You can also establish connections with nationals of other countries, such as Turkey, Pakistan, India, Syria, etc., through national-specific associations and clubs.

Read also: 10 Reasons to Live in Dubai: It’s Not What You Think It Is!



How is the job market for expatriates in Dubai?

The employment opportunities for expatriates in Dubai are promising. Numerous multinational corporations are active in the region presenting a range of job prospects across industries such as finance, technology and hospitality.  

Expatriates commonly secure roles in management, engineering or sales although the competition can be fierce. Possessing great skills or relevant experience can give candidates an edge. Dubai’s expanding economy and tax-free earnings serve as incentives for professionals who seek career growth and a comfortable lifestyle.

Are there international schools in Dubai?  

education in Dubai

Yes. Dubai has a variety of international schools offering diverse educational programs like British, American and IB (International Baccalaureate). These institutions enroll students from different nationalities and uphold high academic standards.  

Additionally, they provide an array of activities encompassing sports and arts. Parents opt for international schools due to their curriculum that prepares children for universities across the globe. There are the most prominent international schools in Dubai:

  • Nord Anglia International School Dubai
  • Deira International School
  • Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai


What healthcare options are available in Dubai?  

Dubai provides a variety of healthcare options including government hospitals and clinics that offer quality care. Private hospitals and clinics are also available for those seeking care with advanced facilities and shorter wait times.  

Many residents rely on health insurance to cover expenses. Also, Dubai offers other healthcare services like dentistry, maternity care and surgeries to ensure complete healthcare coverage.

What visas do I need before I move to Dubai?

Before moving to Dubai, you typically require a residence visa and a work permit usually sponsored by your employer. If you plan to start a business, an investor visa is necessary.  

Family members can be sponsored for family visas well. It's important to have an entry permit when initially entering Dubai. It's advisable to stay updated on requirements as they may change.

Is Dubai a safe city to live in?  

Yes. Dubai is recognized as a safe city with low crime rate and dedicated law enforcement. The city’s adherence to laws and regulations contributes significantly to maintaining safety and orderliness.  

Residents and visitors alike feel secure wandering the streets after dark due to the emergency services and modern infrastructure that enhance the overall safety of living in Dubai.

What cultural norms should I be aware of in Dubai?

When visiting Dubai, it's essential to be mindful of these customs:

  • Dress Modestly: It's advisable to wear modest attire when in public areas. Ensure your shoulders and knees are covered.
  • Respect Religious Practices: Show respect for customs during Ramadan. Refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in spaces during daylight hours.
  • Code of Conduct: Avoid engaging in an unnecessary show of affection. While holding hands is generally acceptable, kissing and hugging are discouraged.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Limit alcohol consumption to licensed places like hotels and bars. Avoid drinking in prohibited locations.
  • Etiquette Guidelines: Greet individuals with a handshake and use your right hand for eating well as giving and receiving items.
  • Photography Regulations: Always seek permission before capturing photos of people—women—and refrain from photographing government buildings or military structures.


What is the best way to get around in Dubai?

The best modes of transportation in Dubai include:

1- Dubai Metro: This fast transport system is cost effective, reliable and serves many destinations such as tourist attractions and the airport.

2- Taxis: Taxis are readily available throughout the city. They offer an affordable means of transportation. You can easily flag them down on the street.  

3- Uber/ Careem: Use apps such as Uber and Careem for booking rides.  

4- Buses: Dubai has a connected bus network that links different parts of the city offering a budget-friendly travel option.  

5- Car rental: Opting for car rental is convenient if you wish to travel beyond the city limits with companies operating at both the airport and within the city itself.  

6- Trams and Ferries: The Dubai Tram connects areas like Dubai Marina and JBR while ferries provide water routes along Dubai Creek and the coastline.  

7- Walking and Cycling: Walking and cycling are simplest modes of transportation in areas like Downtown Dubai and Marina thanks to dedicated pathways and pedestrian-friendly zones.

Read also: Tips for Renting an Apartment in the UAE

Final Word

Jam Marina

Are you planning to move to Dubai? Renting an apartment in Dubai is one of the preliminary steps towards ensuring smooth and enjoyable living.  

From high-rise apartments in top class locations such as JBR, Jumeira 1, and Dubai Marina to affordable options in neighborhoods like Mirdif, Bur Dubai and Al Nahda offers a range of rental options.  

Whether you are looking for an apartment with breathtaking views or a spacious family villa near schools and parks, our skilled Al Majid skilled real estate experts are ready to help you.

We have a complete understanding of the market and can help you throughout the entire rental process from choosing potential properties to maintenance and repair.

We are dedicated to providing you with a place that suits your way of life and financial plan. Reach out to us at +971 4 271 5252 and locate your desired home in Dubai!