Feedback from Ex-pats Who Have Moved: How Do Emigrants Live in Dubai?

Feedback from Ex-pats Who Have Moved: How Do Emigrants Live in Dubai?

02.10.2022 (updated 01.26.2023)

  • AX Blog
  • Feedback from Ex-pats Who Have Moved: How Do Emigrants Live in Dubai?

Dubai is a city where people come to relax and work. First-class service, high-quality products and goods, a developed economy and an uninterrupted banking system, high-level medicine and security, rich culture and clear and comfortable taxation make it an ideal place for a happy life. But the emirate does not captivate with this alone. The high standard of living and the cosmopolitan population of Dubai are the main arguments in favor of the idea of ​​moving. Many foreigners like it for its climate, as on average, there are only 23 rainy days in the emirate a year, and according to statistics, 4.7 rainy days occur in March. The average annual seawater temperature is 21.9°C.


Foreigners in Dubai

In the emirate, unlike many other emigration destinations popular among foreigners, there is no area specifically for ex-pats. When in the early 2000s, natives of the former USSR began to move to the city en masse, they made a decision based on their financial capabilities and requests. It is more comfortable for some to live surrounded by shopping centers and for others to be closer to the sea or school and office. At the moment, the average prices in the most popular areas of Dubai per square meter are as follows:

Reviews of Emigrants

There is no exact data on how many ex-pats currently live in Dubai. Since it is Dubai that is the most populous city in the country (today the population is 3.5 million people), and these figures are constantly increasing, we can conclude that the number of ex-pats of the emirate is also growing steadily.

We asked three foreigners who moved to live in Dubai to share their experiences. And here’s what they had to say:

Ekaterina, 29 years old:

“I moved to Dubai four years ago with a friend, as she found a job here and suggested that I also look for one and move with her. The friend returned to our homeland a year ago, but I stayed because I like it here. I work in a real estate agency. This is one of the areas where foreign employees are in great demand. I have legal status and I plan to buy an apartment on a mortgage shortly. For the time being, I am renting an apartment in the Al Satwa area – it is comfortable to live here and from here it is convenient to travel by car to the center, where the office of my agency is located. Perhaps I will also buy an apartment in the same area – it is not entirely suitable for families with children, but there are many cafes and restaurants and besides, it is always noisy and crowded, and I like it. I would not recommend this area to my clients who love peace and solitude.

I am still a young novice specialist and my salary depends on the number of transactions. On average, I receive around AED 15,000 ($4,000) per month. This is not very much by the standards of Dubai, taking into account the rental, but I am sure that over time I will earn more. The main thing is that I like life in Dubai.”

Natalia, 36 years old:

“We moved to Dubai with the whole family two years ago because of my husband’s work – he is an IT specialist and opened his own company here. “We” means my husband, me, and a ten-year-old son (he is now twelve). We are also thinking about moving my mom here if everything goes well.

At first, we rented accommodation in the Deira area, but we didn’t like it there – it took a long time to reach my husband’s work, my son’s school, and shopping centers, plus the area is quite old, with a large percentage of the population being local, we didn’t find friends there. We now live in the Green Community, which is very convenient. My husband’s office is in the Jebel Ali area, which is very easy to access from here, and my son goes to a school in our area. We bought our small townhouse. We really like this area, as there is a lot of greenery here, as well as families with children from different countries, it is calm and safe and I am not afraid to let my child go for a walk with children of his age.

It was hard to adapt to having to speak another language. We were warned that our son would most likely go to an English-speaking school. There is only one school that uses our mother language here, in the Deira area, but we decided that it was better for the child to immediately adapt to the environment, so we prepared him for learning in English. Even before the move, he studied a lot with a tutor and, fortunately, got used to it very quickly and even found friends. My husband also speaks fluent English, but I struggled with it so it was the hardest for me, but now I’m taking private lessons. We all love it and we don’t plan to leave.”

Valentin, 56 years old:

“I have a construction business in my homeland. I bought a small villa in Dubai to spend my holidays here with my family, and when we are not here, it is rented out by a management company. The villa is located in the Umm Suqeim area, close to the beach, so it is easily rented almost all year round, and I am slowly earning from its purchase.

Everything suits us here, especially since we have not yet moved here completely, although we often think about it. Perhaps I will move the family, and I will fly away and return because I can’t completely leave my company to someone else yet. In any case, we are considering this option.

As a builder, there is one thing I don’t like here; I can’t renovate my villa the way I want to. For example, we wanted to glaze the balcony of one of the bedrooms, which overlooks the garden – we were not allowed to, as they said that this violates the architectural ensemble. I was also not allowed to put up a fence, although I understand that there is no need for it since it is safe in the country, this is some kind of habit of shielding oneself from prying eyes. The process is always the same – before carrying out any repairs, even internal ones, you need to send an application to the management company. They can either approve or deny the application, but even if they approve it, I cannot do it myself, since I am not registered here as a professional builder. They provide a list of accredited repair companies to choose from, and only after choosing one of them, I may be able to do something. In my case, of all the things I requested, I was only allowed to widen one doorway. This is perhaps the only unpleasant and incomprehensible moment that I encountered here, but it does not affect the quality of my life.”

How to Adapt to the Arab Environment

Even though the UAE is a state in the Middle East, Dubai is a cosmopolitan city. Only 15% of its population are locals, the remaining 85% are ex-pats who have moved here from around the world. At the same time, in addition to Sharia law, the system of English law is applied in the country, so that citizens of European countries do not feel cut off from their familiar environment.

But still, you need to remember that Dubai is a Muslim emirate, so you need to honor customs here. So, walking in short skirts and shorts is allowed on the beach of the hotel if you are on vacation, but in the city, and even more so when communicating with the local population, it is better to choose more restrained clothes. The same goes for food and drink, for example, during the traditional fast of Ramadan, when Muslim believers do not drink or eat during daylight hours. In tourist areas, remarks will not be made, but conspicuously eating food in front of a fasting person can be perceived as an insult.

Work for An Ex-pat

Ex-pats are in great demand in the growing tourism industry, as more and more tourists come to the emirate every year. Industries in which it will be easier to find a job, for those who speak a foreign language, are trade, the hotel sector, real estate, and tourism. Of course, if you do not understand Arabic, you need to know English, at least to enable communication with the employer.

According to the Dubai Expat Blog, the most in-demand occupations for ex-pats in general are:

  • IT specialist, software developer, graphic designer;
  • architect and engineer;
  • specialist in marketing and social networks;
  • sales representative and customer service specialist;
  • an employee in the field of public catering;
  • real estate agency consultant;
  • medical worker (doctor, nurse, dentist, pharmacist);
  • hotel employee;
  • HR specialist;
  • Secretary and receptionist.

What Will You Have to Adapt to?

The first thing that almost all ex-pats who move to Dubai warn about is the heat, which becomes a test for many. For several months of the year, being outside in direct sunlight will be quite tiring, especially for those who move to the emirate from the northern and rainy regions. The second thing you should pay attention to is the difference in prices. Yes, gasoline in the UAE is much cheaper than in many other European or Asian countries, but some purchases will cost more than at home. For example, a year of a child’s education in primary school at an international school costs an average of 45,500 AED ($12,500), a dinner in a restaurant for two is about 250 AED ($70) and renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is 5,155 AED ($1400). Another item of expenditure will be health insurance, which grows in proportion to the number of family members. At the same time, all ex-pats note the quality of goods and the level of service in Dubai, which are worth the money. If living in the UAE is your dream, please contact our team at AX CAPITAL, a real estate agency in Dubai! Our agents will advise you on how to legally move to Dubai, help with the selection of real estate and explain all the bureaucratic subtleties. Take a step towards a new future!

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