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Living in Dubai, UAE: An Expat Guide

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This article discusses living in Dubai, UAE – the most well-known emirate in the UAE. We will discuss the quality of life in Dubai, its best neighborhoods, the cost of living, and other important factors like expat life and safety.

Dubai is the ultimate expat hotspot, with expats making up over 80% of Dubai’s population.

So, why is Dubai so popular? 

The most enticing draw is the lavish lifestyle you can enjoy in Dubai. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to the creme de la creme of apartments in some of the best skyscrapers in the world, yacht parties, extravagant nightlife options, and more. Life in Dubai is very high-tech – futuristic even – and definitely luxurious.

Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the country of the United Arab Emirates. However, it usually stands on its own on the global scene. 

If you want to live in one of the safest, low-tax, and ultra-luxurious places in the world, you’ll love Dubai. Note, however, that the UAE doesn’t usually hand out citizenship to foreigners. You can stay in Dubai all your life but as a resident.

If you’re okay with that and want to plan your life and business in Dubai, set up a call with us today. We can curate a holistic offshore strategy for you that handles all your problems and grants you peace of mind.

 

What Time of Year Is Best to Live in Dubai?

Choosing to live in Dubai means choosing to live in the Arabian desert. With that comes some extreme temperatures, especially in the summer months. 

You may not want to be in Dubai from May to September when temperatures soar and people can just about manage to scurry from air-conditioned car to air-conditioned house. Many expats leave Dubai for their holidays during that time, and you may want to do the same. 

And while there is pretty much no rainfall to speak of, sandstorms are quite usual in Dubai. 

Note, however, that for many expats living in Dubai, the extreme heat is simply a by-product of living an otherwise excellent life.

 

The Best Neighborhoods in Dubai

The neighborhoods in Dubai are loosely defined – there are no street addresses. This means it could be a total nightmare to get a parcel delivered, but if you can look past it, Dubai offers plenty of neighborhoods with numerous amenities.

The downtown is where it’s at. With all the cafes, nightlife options, and plenty of amenities nearby, you would never have to leave this area if you lived in Dubai. 

The Marina is another popular neighborhood, not just to moor your yacht but also to live. Go relax at the water’s edge and enjoy the numerous cafes and the perfect private beach club that’s within easy reach.

It’s one of the few areas where foreigners and expats join local Emiratis and Gulf nationals, so if you’re after that, you should live at the Marina. 

The man-made Palm Jumeirah is probably the most luxurious and expensive area of them all. You have likely seen the palm leaf-shaped islands that make up The Palm Jumeirah, and there are plenty of real estate options there. 

Luxury Real Estate Options in Dubai

With no shortage of billionaires, Dubai is definitely not short on luxury real estate. You’ll have plenty of options, no matter what your requirements are. 

If you want to live the good life, you must check out the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall apartments, or any other luxury apartment building in the city center (of which there are too many to name here).

Le Reve has apartments and penthouses that will take your breath away, with sweeping views of not just the Marina but the Persian Gulf, too. 

And if you want something smaller, La Residencia del Mar complex and the Emirates Crown both have plenty of good options in the Marina area. 

Whether you want a luxurious penthouse or a beautiful beachside property, we can help you achieve that. Nomad Capitalist’s Real Estate Plan helps you buy foreign real estate like a local. Set up a call with us today to get the best real estate deals in a foreign country.

What is the Cost of Living in Dubai?

The cost of living in Dubai can easily be compared to the costs of living in London or New York. It’s one of the most expensive places to live in the world.

Cafes and restaurants are extremely expensive, on average – think $12 beers and $5 cappuccinos. And because it’s a desert where everything has to be imported, groceries aren’t exactly cheap either. 

Renting a luxury flat in a central area will easily cost over $5,000 a month. However, properties are abundant, and a decent rental apartment will cost less.

Offshore gold coins – Stock of gold coins

Offshore gold coins - Stock of gold coins

Offshore gold coins – Stock of gold coins

 

The Best Co-working Spaces in Dubai

You’ve probably heard about Dubai’s “remote work” visa program, allowing remote workers and self-employed individuals to travel to Dubai and stay there for up to a year.

And even if you might not be going to Dubai to work, it is still great to know whether there are suitable working spaces if you ever need them.

1.myOffice Dubai Marina: A working space where staff goes above and beyond to accommodate you and all of your needs. The offices at my office are spacious and well-equipped, and the views can’t be beaten.

2. Bisdesk: How about a private office in the business area of Dubai? Bringing together start-ups and long-established businesses, Bisdesk also offers 24/7 office access. 

It’s always good to know that Dubai has the fastest internet connection in the Gulf, so you can connect and manage your business from anywhere in the city. But Dubai is also one of the most expensive places in the world to have broadband. 

myofficemarina dubai coworking

myOffice Dubai Marina

bisdesk dubai coworking

Bisdesk

How Accessible is Dubai?

The main airport serving Dubai is the Dubai International Airport, and it holds many accolades:

  • The world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic

  • One of the busiest cargo airports in the world

  • The busiest airport for Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft

  • The list goes on…

Needless to say, Dubai is highly connected to the world, making it a great base for those using our Trifecta Strategy

You can hop on a plane for a weekend trip to Europe or fly directly to New York, London, Sydney, Beijing, and many other major airports in the world.

When it comes to connectivity, Dubai has nailed it. 

Meanwhile, the region itself is connected by roads only, so you’d have to take your car out to visit nearby cities and emirates, e.g. Abu Dhabi. 

How Safe is Dubai?

Dubai is one of the safest cities in the region, second only to Abu Dhabi. According to The Economist’s Safe Cities Index, it’s safer than Rome and Beijing. 

That’s remarkable because it’s such a diverse city. At the same time, pick-pocketing and muggings are unheard of in Dubai. 

That’s probably because it has strict laws that are tightly enforced, and the crime levels are extremely low because of that. Expats and tourists are unlikely to run into safety issues. 

What Are the Entertainment Options in Dubai?

In Dubai, there really is no limit on places where you can splash your cash. 

From luxury shopping, indoor skiing, yachting, and absolutely everything in between, if you have the cash, Dubai has got the goods. 

And even though, technically, Dubai residents cannot consume alcohol, plenty of it is available to foreign tourists and expats in licensed bars and clubs. 

Where Are the Best Places to Eat and Drink in Dubai?

Simply put, the food scene in Dubai is insane. Since there are so many nationalities represented, you can try all types of cuisines. 

  • Pierchic Restaurant: With sweeping views of the Arabic Gulf and a Mediterranean seafood menu, this restaurant will please even the most sophisticated tastes. 

  • Ruya Restaurant: Have you ever tried an Anatolian restaurant? Drawing inspiration from the past, Ruya serves food that’s perfect for sharing. Unwind at the Marina. 

  • Indego by Vineet: Michelin stars are always a great indicator of quality, and Indego by Vineet is no different. This will be the place where you eat some of the most delicious Indian food you’ve ever had. 

  • Nobu: Offering traditional Japanese fare with a South American twist, Nobu is another crowd-pleaser in Dubai. Located at the Atlantis on The Palm, it offers a unique experience.

  • Ronda Locatelli: This restaurant is run by Giorgio Lucatelli, a chef who earned his first Michelin star back in 1999. For over two decades, he’s delighted the world with amazing Italian flavors, and now he does exactly that at the Ronda Locatelli within the Atlantis (The Palm) resort in Dubai.

 

pierchic restaurant dubai

Pierchic Restaurant

ruya restaurant dubai

Ruya Restaurant

idegobyvineet restaurant dubai

Indego By Vineet

 

What is There to Do and See in Dubai?

There is so much to see and do in Dubai that there really is no putting it into a list.

Here’s just a quick sampler of the things you could get up to:

1. The Burj Khalifa: Of course, the obligatory visit to Burj Khalifa’s 148th floor. You’ll feel at the very top of the sky. Just make sure you don’t have vertigo. And when you get down, check out the Dubai Fountain, which truly rivals the dancing fountains of Las Vegas.

2. Yachting: You can rent a luxury yacht in Dubai, a 44-foot one, starting at $300 per hour. Or perhaps you’d like to buy your own to use when you’re in Dubai and then moor it at the exclusive Dubai Marina? Everything is possible in this emirate.

3. Sand dune adventures: Dubai is located in the middle of a desert, which means there are quite a few options for dune adventures, with the Dubai skyline sitting in the background. Rent a buggy, slash through the sand in an SUV, or opt for a sunset camel ride.

4. Luxury shopping: Every single brand you can think of probably has a store in Dubai, and no wonder. Giant malls populate the entire city, and shopping is one of the most popular pastimes in Dubai, especially during the scorching summer.

5. Ski Dubai: One of the largest indoor ski resorts, it’s perfect for when you want a change of scenery. From hot and humid to nice and cool, it’s a great way to pass your free time.

burj khalifa dubai

The Burj Khalifa

yachting dubai

Yachting

sand dunes dubai

Sand Dune Adventures

How Open is the Culture to Outsiders?

There is no need to learn Arabic to thrive in Dubai. English is the most widely spoken language. So, although Arabic is the official language, you can easily get by without it.

And, seeing as over 80% of Dubai’s population is foreign, you could safely assume that it is quite open to outsiders. If you’re a wealthy person, this will certainly be true. You’ll be widely accepted.

If you’re planning to move there with family, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of international schools in Dubai. School fees vary, and each school may follow its own educational standards. For example, some may be more US-centric, while some may follow the British education system.

Is Living in Dubai Worth it?

Overall, Dubai is a great option for those seeking a luxurious nomad base. 

Dubai’s residence visa is extremely easy to come by, and setting up a business is encouraged as well. You can also set up a bank account with no problem at all.

Note, however, that UAE now levies a 9% corporate tax, so your business there will most likely not be tax-free. This new corporate rate is applicable to income above 375,000 dirhams ($100,000). 

Also, contrary to what many previously thought, that free zone companies would be exempt, the latest data released appears to suggest otherwise. 

While it might fit within a holistic offshore strategy that we here at Nomad Capitalist would approve of, there are definitely some peculiar cultural differences and alternative options to take into consideration. 

As always, moving to Dubai is not a simple decision to make. Lots of careful planning should take place before you make any geographical moves.

Business tax, personal tax, residency requirements, and everything in between – we can help you with that here at Nomad Capitalist. Set up a call with us today to discuss your holistic Action Plan.

Living in Dubai, UAE – Expat Guide FAQ

Is Dubai safe?

Dubai is one of the safest cities in the region, second only to Abu Dhabi. According to The Economist’s Safe Cities Index, it’s safer than Rome and Beijing. 

Is Dubai Expat-Friendly?

Over 80% of Dubai’s population is expat-friendly. The country is highly friendly toward foreigners, especially if you’re a seven or eight-figure investor or entrepreneur.

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