How to Move to Dubai from the UK

How to Move to Dubai from the UK

Dubai is among the most alluring destinations for foreigners in the UAE, partly due to its impressive landmarks. It boasts the world's largest dancing fountain, the tallest building, Burj Khalifa, the iconic 7-star hotel, Burj Al Arab, and, of course, the renowned artificial Palm Jumeirah Island. These attractions draw millions of tourists every year.

Exploring the attractions doesn't necessitate becoming a local resident, as a visa is sufficient. Nevertheless, many individuals opt to make Dubai their home. It's worth noting that as of 2023, the city's population stood at 3,600,000 people, despite there being just over 1,100,000 native Emiratis in the entire country.

Continue reading to learn about the ways of emigrating to Dubai from the UK.

Things to Consider Before Moving to Dubai

Before relocating from the UK to Dubai, it's crucial to take into account more than just the upcoming formalities. Obtaining a visa or applying for a residence permit in the UAE is relatively straightforward. However, other factors such as the cost of living, cultural differences, climate, and various aspects that may diverge from life on the "island" should be considered. It's essential to take all of these factors into account before packing your suitcases.

Dubai. Photo: Nick Fewings (Unsplash)

To determine if Dubai is a suitable destination for you, you need to examine at least the following information:

Renting a one-bedroom flat in the city centre
7,613 AED (1,715 GBP)
2,112 GBP
Renting a one-bedroom flat outside of the city centre
4,389 AED (989 GBP)
1,560 GBP
The cost of one sq. m. of housing in the city centre
15,147 AED (3,412 GBP)
13,928 GBP
The cost of one sq. m. of housing outside of the city centre
9,017 AED (2,031 GBP)
7,920 GBP
A 20-year fixed mortgage interest rate
4.61% yearly
5.48% yearly
Monthly expenses per person
3,888 AED (876 GBP)
1,084 GBP

This data is on the Numbeo website

Thus, comparing two world cities that are similar in status and importance, Dubai is the winner in terms of the cost of living.

When making a decision about emigration, it is important to consider various factors in addition to prices:

  • Language: While Arabic remains the official language in the UAE, most residents speak English, so there is no problem with communication here.
  • Climate: The weather in Dubai differs significantly from that in Britain. The UAE experiences a pleasant, mild winter, which accounts for the peak season, and a very hot summer with high humidity from the Persian Gulf. There is little precipitation, but whether this is an advantage or a disadvantage for UK citizens is a matter of personal preference.
  • Culture: The UAE is a Muslim country with certain restrictions. For example, it can be challenging to purchase alcohol. In Dubai, alcohol is only served in licensed restaurants, and it is prohibited to be in public with signs of intoxication. There are also specific clothing rules. Eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours is not allowed during Ramadan. Additionally, public displays of affection, such as kissing and hugging, are not permitted.
  • Food: Finding food in Dubai will not be a problem. The city boasts world-famous restaurant chains, catering to both haute cuisine and fast food. It will be very easy for an English expatriate to find traditional British cuisine.
  • Work: According to the Numbeo website, the average monthly salary in Dubai is 14,756 AED (3,323 GBP). Working conditions in the UAE are generally comfortable, as the country has ratified many international conventions protecting employees' rights. The UAE promotes gender equality at work, implements measures to ensure occupational safety, and has a robust system for employee protection.
  • Taxes: The UAE does not impose personal income tax. However, most goods and services are subject to a 5% VAT at the point of sale.

However, regardless of how much information has been studied in theory, it is always better to find out the details on the spot. Fortunately, Dubai has made this process as easy as possible. British citizens do not need to obtain prior permission to visit. It is sufficient to have a passport that is valid for at least another six months after the intended departure from the UAE and to purchase a plane ticket.

Upon arrival at the airport, you will receive a guest visa at the border control, allowing you to stay in Dubai for up to 30 days. If you obtain a jobseeker visa, your stay can be extended to up to 120 days. However, if you plan to stay longer, you will need to obtain a residence permit. There are various reasons for obtaining a residence permit, including studying, working, investing, and family-related reasons.

How to Move to Dubai Through Investments 

The investor's golden visa program is the easiest way for affluent individuals to immigrate to the UAE. To obtain it, you need to:

  • Invest a minimum of 2,000,000 AED (450,428 GBP) in one of the business projects approved by the local government, resulting in a 10-year residence permit.
  • Purchase or establish a company that generates at least 250,000 AED (56,303 GBP) in annual revenue for the UAE budget. The owner is entitled to stay in the country for 10 years.
  • Acquire property worth 2,000,000 AED (450,428 GBP), leading to a five-year residence permit.

To apply for a golden visa, you will need a passport and documents confirming the investment. Each case has its own specific requirements. For example, it can include a title deed, a bank statement for the last six months, a certificate from the local tax office, and more.

The fees for the investor's golden visa are as follows:

  • 1,100 AED for a residence permit.
  • 520 AED (117 GBP) as additional fees.
  • 20 AED (4.5 GBP) for the delivery of documents.

Dubai. Photo: Piotr Chrobot (Unsplash)

How to Move to Dubai for Work

Foreigners have the right to move to Dubai under various statuses:

  • Self-employed: Those who prefer not to work as employees can obtain a freelance work permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation for their relevant field. The minimum requirements include holding a bachelor's degree, specialist diploma, or their equivalent. However, to be eligible for a residence permit, applicants must demonstrate an annual income for the previous two years of at least 360,000 AED (81,085 GBP) or prove their financial solvency for the entire duration of their stay in the country. Meeting these conditions allows for the issuance of a five-year residence permit.
  • Highly qualified specialist: This category requires individuals to have an employment contract and a work permit. Prior to considering this option, it's essential to ensure that the minimum requirements are met. This type of residence permit is available to individuals with at least a bachelor's degree, provided their qualifications meet local standards. Additionally, the monthly salary set by the employer must be a minimum of 15,000 AED (3,378 GBP). Highly qualified specialists can obtain a residence permit valid for up to five years.
  • Investor-business partner: Obtaining this residence permit involves seeking approval from the competent authorities, and its validity is also limited to a maximum of five years.
  • Employee of a local organisation: Typically, this residence permit is valid for two years, and a work permit must be obtained in advance. The employer initiates the application process.
  • Domestic worker: Dubai has a separate procedure for hiring domestic staff, such as maids, personal trainers, caregivers, nurses, family drivers, gardeners, tutors, and others. They are employed through specialized recruitment agencies that handle all formalities, including obtaining a residence permit.

Aside from domestic workers, whose residence permits are the responsibility of their intermediaries, all other applicants must cover the costs associated with their residence permits:

  • 200 AED (45 GBP) for an initial residence permit application, with an annual increase of 100 AED (23 GBP) after two years of residence.
  • 520 AED (117 GBP) in additional fees.
  • 20 AED (4.5 GBP) for the delivery of documents.

How to Move to Dubai Through Study

One of the straightforward ways to relocate to the UAE is by enrolling in a local college, institute, university, research center, or a similar educational institution. The key requirement for this is that the institution must hold a valid state license. Initially, a one-year residence permit will be granted, and it can be subsequently renewed as long as the individual continues their studies.

This category of residence permit does not grant the right to work. However, under specific conditions, it provides an opportunity to establish a presence in the country until one qualifies for a 10-year golden visa, which is typically awarded to exceptionally talented students.

The required document package is minimal, consisting of a passport, a photo, a medical certificate, and insurance.

The fee for a student residence permit is as follows:

  • 200 AED (45 GBP) for the initial application, with an annual increase of 100 AED (23 GBP) after two years of residence.
  • 520 AED (117 GBP) in additional fees.
  • 20 AED (4.5 GBP) for the delivery of documents.

Dubai. Photo: Amir Hanna (Unsplash)

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