Living and working in Dubai as an expat: An essential guide

It’s easy to see why Dubai life is attractive to expats

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Published: Wed 3 Jul 2024, 10:22 AM

The high standard of living, tax-free income and great weather mean millions of expats have relocated to the city to enjoy a new, luxury lifestyle. However, the city’s popularity can make the Dubai job market extremely competitive, so it pays to get ahead of the competition and understand what’s in store if you choose to relocate to the city.

Living in Dubai: The basics

Before applying for jobs in Dubai, it’s worth getting to know a few essential facts about the place. Here are the basic details to get familiar with:

The city of Dubai is the most populous among the UAE’s seven emirates.

The population of Dubai is approximately 3.7 million, with an estimated expat population of 75 per cent (2.8 million)

The main languages spoken are English and Arabic

Dubai’s currency is the UAE Dirham (AED)

What to look out for when moving to Dubai?

As a highly developed modern city, life in Dubai is similar to many other major cities around the world. Dubai is also a meeting of Eastern and Western cultures, so there are some customs and cultural differences to developed Western cities. Here are some things to consider when moving to Dubai:

Dubai's cost of living

The cost of living in Dubai is higher than in other parts of the UAE, but notably lower than many other major cities around the world. Studies indicate that living costs in Dubai (excluding rent) are as much as 24 per cent lower than in London.

Public services and infrastructure in Dubai

Dubai has a mix of public and private healthcare, but as an expat, you’ll need to pay to access public healthcare. The Dubai public school system is only accessible to expats through a fee-paying system.

Renting or buying a home in Dubai

It’s usually possible to rent a property in Dubai for a relatively short tenancy. This can be ideal if you’re moving to Dubai and you’re looking for somewhere to stay while you settle in. Rental costs are generally cheaper than in London, New York and other major Western cities.

Working in Dubai

Dubai is one of the most popular places for expats to move for work, owing to its tax-free salaries and highly developed economy. The rapid development of the city in recent decades has led to a wealth of job opportunities. Take a look at the tips below to prepare yourself for a Dubai job search:

In-demand skills for Dubai jobs

While Dubai is an extremely popular destination for expats to seek work, recent studies have shown there are some significant skills shortages in the city. The largest talent gaps lie in management, leadership and sales.

Getting a visa for Dubai

One of the most important things to do before moving to Dubai for work is to get a suitable visa. There are two main visas for expats seeking to settle in Dubai. These are the five-year Green UAE Visa and the 10-year Residency ‘Golden’ UAE Visa.

Preparing for Dubai job applications

It’s important to know how to write a CV for a job application in Dubai. While the structure and format of your CV follows many of the same customs as other countries, there are a few things to bear in mind:

Aim for a CV around two pages long for junior roles, and up to three pages for senior positions.

Certain personal information is expected, such as your date of birth, material status, visa status and language skills.

While Dubai employers used to expect a personal photo on your CV, this is now less commonplace.

Add a professional summary, outlining your career achievements and key skills. Employers tend to favour a professional summary over the alternative CV objective, which focuses more on your career ambitions.

Dubai employers may pay particular attention to your certifications and professional qualifications, so be sure to mention these in your CV.

Write your CV In English, as this is the most widely used business language in Dubai.

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