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How to live as an expat in the UAE
Points to consider while moving to the Emirates.

The UAE has a well-established expatriate population, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Internations has compiled the following list for Emirates 24|7 from the recommendations and advice of those experienced expats to help you make a smooth move to the UAE.

Before you move

1. Plan your finance and paper work
Everyone knows of the UAE’s generous lack of personal income tax but many people don’t realise how initial set-up costs can be. Some forethought, research on living costs, and savings in the bank, will help you more easily transition to your life in the UAE. Also, getting an early start on all the necessary paperwork for visas and other bureaucratic processes is a great way to ensure you have the relevant documents when the time comes to present them.

2. Visit the Emirates and talk to expats

You wouldn’t move somewhere unknown in your home country, so you should be even less willing to move internationally without visiting your destination first. To get a feel for the UAE, spend a few weeks there, determine which areas you’re fond of, and talk to other expats who’ve been living there for more than a year.

3.Find an apartment

This will also help with your financial planning. Bear in mind rent is often paid in advance for the year and don’t forget to work out how far your apartment is from bus stops and Metro stations.

4.Enroll your children in a school

The international schools have long-waiting lists, so get in as early as possible.

5.Learn a bit about Shariah and cultural norms

Dressing in appropriately modest clothing is necessary in most parts of the UAE except for a few expat-populated suburbs and beaches, where you can get away with board shorts or bikini. Drinking alcohol in public is forbidden and public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon and may land you in a conversation with a security guard or police officer. Be careful how you drive and pay your debts. Serious violations of the last two can result in prison sentences. With a little bit of consideration and respect for your new home you won’t get yourself into any trouble – most people don’t have any problems adjusting.

Making the move

6.Don't take your furniture

Given the array of locally available options, it just doesn’t make financial sense to ship yours.

7. Check delivery costs and currency

For those personal items that you must have in your new UAE home: double-check paper works and be sure of costs, delivery times, and trackability.

8. Leave your pet at home

Your beloved pet is much better off with a caring relative than making the journey to the UAE, only to be hauled back again a few months or years later. Pets are expensive to transport internationally and it’s best not to buy one in the UAE either if you’re not staying long-term. Animal shelters are home to many an abandoned rabbit, cat, and dog due to the temporary nature of expat life.

Living in the UAE

9. Make yourself at home

Meet people, make friends, and integrate yourself and your family into your new home! Join your company’s social events, get in touch with the expat community, organise play-dates for your children with those of other expats, explore your local area, and enjoy!

10. Travel!

Take advantage of the UAE’s position between Europe, Asia, and Africa, and its great airlines. From Dubai’s airport, for example, you can reach: Mumbai in 3 hours; Cairo in 4 hours; Moscow in 5 hours; Bangkok in about 6 hours; London in about 7; and in about 8 hours you can be in Casablanca!