flag United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates: Living

In this page: Communities of Expatriates | Ranking of Cities | Renting an Apartment | School System | Health System | Tourism and Culture | Individual and Civic Freedoms | Religion


Communities of Expatriates

The Number of Expatriates
The expatriate community represents 78.1% of the total population of the UAE. These immigrants are mainly of South Asian origin (Pakistan and India), as well as from Iran, Afghanistan and other Arab countries.
Blogs For Expats
Forum on life in the Emirates
For Further Information
Emirati society
Immigration Authority
Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Transportation Companies For Moving/Removals
Choose & Move
Crown Relocations

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Ranking of Cities

Cost of Living
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are respectively the 21st and 25th most expensive cities in the world according to the Mercer Index 2016.
Quality of Life
Mercer's 2017 Quality of Living Survey ranks Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively 74th and 79th out of 231.
Sanitary Conditions
Oil income has enabled the big cities to develop modern and efficient health infrastructure. For several years, the Emirates have also been aiming to become a global leader in renewable energies. A climate-friendly, non-emitting city is being developed close to Abu Dhabi. On the other hand, pollution of the coasts and sea remains a problem.
For Further Information
Quality of Living Worldwide City Rankings – Survey - Mercer
Cost of Living Worldwide City Rankings –Survey - Mercer

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Renting an Apartment

Description of apartments
Flats are generally spacious and of high class, but rarely furnished.
Normal Lease Term
Generally the leases are made for a period of one year and are renewable.
Rental Costs
The annual rent must be paid in advance in most cases. It should be verified that maintenance and air conditioning costs are included in the rent. It is further necessary to subscribe to civil/fire/water damage liability insurance (cost: around EUR 240).
Agencies or Private Rentals
Most properties are rented out through agencies or agents who take a 5% commission on the annual rent.
Rental Agency Websites
Cluttons Abu Dhabi Rental Agency
Private Rentals Announcements Online
Ads for sale and rental of apartments
Ads for apartment rentals in Dubai
Other Possibilities For Accommodation
It is also possible to rent villas.
For Further Information
Website for expatriates

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School System

School Level
Enrolling children in public schools can be difficult. Teaching is mainly in Arabic.
International Schools
International schools (e.g. teaching in English or French) are numerous in the Emirates. They are recognised and offer good quality education. School hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from Saturdays to Wednesdays.
For Further Information
Ministry of Education

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Health System

Quality of Healthcare
Public hospitals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi offer good health care services and can treat most injuries. Most hospitals have the latest equipment and qualified staff.
International Hospitals
Most expatriates opt for treatment in private hospitals.
Health Insurance
Emirati citizens have free access to healthcare; foreigners do not.
Accessibility of the Health Insurance Network to Foreigners
Most Western expatriates subscribe to private health insurance.
Health System Insurance Body
Emirati General Pension and Social Security Authority
Health Ministry
Ministry of Health

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Tourism and Culture

Different Forms of Tourism

Dubai Museum, mosques and old forts of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
There is a partnership with the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, which plans to open a branch of the museum there. This project has been repeatedly postponed but is expected to open at the end of 2016
4x4 tours of the desert.
There is little religious tourism, except maybe at the huge Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi.
Beaches around Dubai are very beautiful and the hotel complexes developed around them are high-class. Women are formally recommended not to wear bikinis on public beaches. Being topless or naked is prohibited on all beaches of the country.
Winter Sports
There is an artificial indoor ski station in Dubai.
Outdoor Activities
It is possible to play golf in Dubai, which is a famous destination for this sport. Diving has much to offer due to the rich marine life. Fishing is also practised as a sport. Finally, the UAE is reputed for horse riding.
The gold market offers a good price level and shopping malls are tax-free.

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Individual and Civic Freedoms

Political Freedom
The political system of the Emirates is authoritarian. There are no political parties.
Civil Liberty
World Ranking of Freedom of the Press According to "Reporters sans Frontières", 2021 report : 131/180
Free Access to the Internet
Internet access is filtered in the Emirates. Websites with content judged contrary to the local culture and religion are prohibited.
Rule of Law
Corruption levels are low.
Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
Expatriates, especially those of South Asian and Arab origin, face discrimination.
Women's Condition
Even though matters are evolving, women continue to suffer from discrimination. They are under-represented in political institutions.
For Further Information
Freedom House Report

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Degree of Freedom
Each faith has the right to practice its religion.The Government controls the content of Friday sermons in mosques.
Official religion: Islam.
Muslims: 76%; Christians: 9%; other (mainly Hindus and Buddhists): 15%
Role of Religion in Society
Religion is an important marker of identity and a factor of cohesion in the country. It governs many aspects of daily life.

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Latest Update: June 2023