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Thinking of relocating to the UAE
Relocating to a new city or country can be a big step especially when you have a new job to face as well. You can only really get a good feel for a country when you have been there, but please keep reading our guide on the United Arab Emirates to give you an overview of this country and what it has to offer, from the essentials to the desirables....
The UAE has a population of over 4.5 million with a land area of 83,600 sq. km and a capital city Abu Dhabi which is the largest of the emirates. Abu Dhabi is the largest of all seven emirates with an area of 67,340 square kilometers, equivalent to 87% of the country's total area.
Dubai is the second largest Emirate in the UAE, a leading commercial centre and the centre for hosting trade fairs and conferences in the Middle East. Dubai is the economic capital of the United Arab Emirates and has evolved considerably over the past years. Dubai lies between Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. It has become an important world centre for business, and a destination for millions of tourists annually.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is located on the south-eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, with Qatar to the west, Saudi Arabia to the south west, and Oman to the East. The UAE is a constitutional Federation of seven sovereign Sheikhdoms; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah.
The UAE has a very stable economy, with one of the world's highest per capita incomes of nearly US$25,000 per annum. The country boasts nearly 10% of the world's proven oil reserves; more than 90% of which are owned by Abu Dhabi. The economy is no longer solely supported by the energy sector, but they have seen a rapid development in trade from manufacturing, tourism and construction.
Dress Code: The UAE, with its continued development plans and large expat community, accepts and welcomes western culture. However, with regards to dress, the UAE still has a very modest and traditional approach, especially at religious times, such as during Ramadan. Many of the Emirati women will be fully veiled in an Abaya and plus a headscarf called a "Sheyla", and many of the men will be dressed in a traditional white gown known as a "dishdash".
Although Western women will not be expected to wear traditional garments, an effort should still be made to cover up shoulders and not wear skirts or trousers that are too short or transparent. In your compound, on the beach or by the pool, swimming costumes, shorts and even bikinis are quite okay. It is respectful to wear loose-fitting clothes that cover the limbs. You will be much better received this way, and will avoid a lot of unwanted attention. While you can probably find suitable clothes in your own wardrobe, if you want to buy suitable clothing in the UAE then try the long cotton robes for sale in the shopping malls.
During working hours corporate attire consists of business suits for men and working women tend to wear items similar to those they would wear in their home country.
Drinking: The UAE is an Islamic country, which prohibits drinking alcohol in public other than at licensed hotel restaurants and bars.
Religious Customs: Religious customs should be respected at all times. Islam is the official religion in the UAE and is widely practiced. The Islamic holy day is Friday, and Muslims are required to once in their lifetime make the pilgrimage (Hajj) to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Muslins are required to pray 5 times per day; the times may vary according to the position of the sun. Most people pray at their local mosque but it is not unusual to see people praying by the side of the road.
Ramadan: During the month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Arabic calendar, eating, drinking and smoking in public are forbidden by Muslim law between sunrise and sundown. At sunset the fast is broken with the Iftar feast.
Health: You do not need a health certificate to enter the UAE unless you have visited a cholera or yellow fever infected area in the previous 14 days. Restrictions do change on a regular basis and we recommend you check up to date health regulations before you travel with your local doctor or travel clinic depending on which country you are travelling from.
Legally employers are required to provide accommodation or an accommodation allowance to all employees, this amount is at the discretion of the employer. In general most rent is paid 12 months in advance by either one cheque or several post dated cheques and rent can only be increased on an annual basis upon renewal of your contract. In the UAE there is a rental cap, so rent increases can only be upto a maximum of 7% in any one year. In 2005 the UAE brought in a new law that now allows expatriates to buy property in certain investment areas. If the financial uncertainty of the rental market is a worry then buying a property in the UAE could be more attractive. Long term this could develop into a worthwhile investment since you will not be taxed on any financial gain.
Private education is the only option for ex-pat children and the rapid expansion in the UAE, especially in Abu Dhabi's population, means that competition for school places is on the increase. Most of the top schools operate waiting lists and you might not be able to get your child into your first choice. Care must be taken when considering registering with a number of schools as you may have to pay a non refundable fee to register with each.
In order to open a bank account in the UAE you must be a UAE resident. Some banks will open a payroll account for you before your residence permit formalities have been completed, but you have to have a work permit.
Arabic is the official language in the UAE, while English is the widely used in business and the most common second language studied and spoken.
The currency in the UAE is the dirham (Dhs). The Dirham is divided into 100 fil's. Dirham can be abbreviated to (AED) Arab Emirate Dirham. The Dirham is tied to the Dollar at a fixed exchange rate.
Air travel is the most convenient and easily available mode of getting to the UAE. There are 6 International Airports in the UAE, located in five of its Emirates. They are- Al Ain International Airport in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dubai International Airport, Fujairah International Airport, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah International Airport. Dubai is one of the busiest and fastest growing airports in UAE and in Abu Dhabi there are two International airports- the Abu Dhabi International airport and Al Ain International Airport. The Abu Dhabi International Airport can accommodate more than 5 million passengers a year and numerous International Airlines run their flights in and out in this airport in UAE and Abu Dhabi International Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in the Middle East.
Transportation within UAE could not be easier. They have several adequate modes of local transport in the country with cars, buses, taxis and limousines being those most commonly used.
Taxis are the most convenient and reasonable mode of local transportation in the UAE. These taxis can be found at all the prime tourist spots around the country and can also be flagged down in the street. Taxis can be easily recognised by their white & gold livery and by the green taxi sign on the roof. Metered fares start at 2Dhs and shouldn't cost more than 10Dhs for getting around within a city. The UAE has a somewhat unused street name system and most people use landmarks to get around.
Car rental prices in the UAE start at 140Dhs per day for small cars and rise to 1000 DHS for limousines and are available to hire with or without a driver, and fuel prices are comparatively extremely low.
There is a reasonable bus service in some cities, but these do tend to be very crowded and busy at peak times.
A rapid rail transport system is being introduced in Dubai in 2009 and there is a Department of Transport study into introducing a similar metro link from Abu Dhabi to other cities in the GCC, though this is still very much in the planning stages.
The UAE has a sub tropical, arid climate with sunny skies and high temperatures, which can be expected most of the year. Rainfall is sporadic, falling mainly in the winter months, and will average around 12cm per year. Temperatures can range from 50 degrees F (14.5 degrees Celsius) on a winter's night to 118 degrees F (48 degrees Celsius) on a summer's day. You will experience the occasional sand storm and, more surprisingly, during the winter months, thick fog occasionally sets in; usually burnt out by midday. The summer months can be uncomfortable with high temperatures and humidity reaching 100%.
For specific visa information relating to your country of origin please contact the Emirati Embassy in your home country.
The UAE flag consists of 3 horizontal bands; green, white and black with a think vertical red band on the hoist side. The colours on the flag are common to several Arab nations as they symbolise Arab unity and independence.
- The capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, is one of the world's most modern cities and has the largest population of all emirates
- Before the discovery of oil Abu Dhabi was the poorest of the sheikdoms in the UAE.
- Pearl fishing was an important source of wealth for thousands of years and continued until the late 1940s
- In 1971 the UAE became a member of the United Nations and the Arab League
- The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have quoted the UAE as having the 5th highest GDP per capita in the world
REED has a team of consultants from the UK living and working in the Middle East. If you have further questions about relocating or working in the Middle East they would be very happy to discuss this with you. Please feel free to contact Reed Qatar on firstname.lastname@example.org