Background Information to the United Arab Emirates and Dubai: -
Dubai is one of the seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE); it is located in the Middle East. The UAE borders the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf and is situated between Oman and Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates was formed in 1971 by the then ‘Trucial States’ after their independence from Britain.
The UAE is governed by a Supreme Council of Rulers, the council is made up of the seven emirs and they appoint the prime minister and the cabinet for the country. Despite being ultimately ruled by the Supreme Council, as with the other six states, Dubai maintains a large degree of autonomy from the UAE when it comes to general decision making for the city’s development.
Oil was first discovered in the United Arab Emirates in the 1950s, before that the country’s economy was built on fishing and pearling, since 1962, when Abu Dhabi became the first of the emirates to begin exporting the oil, the country's economy has been completely transformed.
Sheikh Zayed, who has been the president of the UAE since its inception, quickly understood the economic potential for the country from the oil industry. He has continued to ensure that each of the emirates benefits from the oil generated wealth, he has insisted on the reinvestment of oil revenues into the healthcare system, the education system and the general national infrastructure.
The development of the oil industry has led to a large influx of foreign workers to the UAE, in fact Dubai’s population is the fastest growing in the world and the foreign population makes up about three quarters of the entire UAE population! As a direct result of this fact the UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf, with other cultures and beliefs tolerated. Dubai has also been quick to understand the need for diversification. Oil in the region is only projected to last for about 30 years and so Dubai has successfully embarked upon a major diversification program aimed to at developing industries and commercial enterprises to take the place of oil as the predominate commodity of the state's economy.
The climate in Dubai is sub-tropical and arid or desert like. The city enjoys almost year round sunny blue skies. Rain is infrequent and if it does fall, it falls in the winter.
Temperatures range from lows of 10°C to extreme summer highs of 48°C. The average maximum daily temperature in January is 24°C and the average maximum daily temperature in July is 41°C when humidity is very high.
About the city of Dubai
Dubai is recognised as the commercial and tourism capital of the UAE and is globally regarded as one of the most sophisticated, futuristic and cosmopolitan cities in the world, in fact Dubai is something of a phenomenon! It is an Arab Muslim society with the fastest growing foreign population in the world, and it has successfully developed harmony through ethnic diversity. It is a city with unrivalled levels of economic energy and architectural ambition, a unique city of contrasts where the most modern and architecturally stunning skyscrapers stand alongside traditional beautiful Arabic structures.
The experiences and attractions available in Dubai are many and varied. From the miles of immaculate beautiful white sandy beaches to the richly exotic Arabian heritage, from the awe inspiring majesty of the desert to the lively international bars, restaurants and nightclubs – a visitor to Dubai is guaranteed an incredible, never to be forgotten experience. In 2003 Dubai was voted safest holiday destination in the world by Conde Nast Traveller magazine, and in fact Dubai is recognised globally as one of the safest cities in the world. Living in Dubai you will find that it is virtually crime-free with the Dubai police ensuring personal safety and security. Anyone found guilty of committing a serious crime will be severely punished. Alcohol and drug related offences are considered serious.
The economy of the city of Dubai is a mainly service-driven economy, with every business amenity from banking to telecommunications offered. International trading and industrialisation are actively encouraged through the provision of favourable taxation advantages, offshore status, specialist free trade zones etc. Recent innovative projects in the city include the foundation of Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City, bringing 21st century technology to Dubai in the world's very first ‘Free Zone’ wholly dedicated to e-business.
Day to Day Life in Dubai
If you are considering moving to Dubai one of your first thoughts will no doubt be finding somewhere to live. This is not something you’ll find too tricky, there are many companies advertising rental accommodation in the classified sections of local newspapers and they offer everything from private villas to luxury apartments or even shared accommodation. Whatever your budgetary and lifestyle requirements are, the specialist relocation and housing companies will be sure to have something to assist you. If you prefer to find your accommodation privately and avoid any agency costs, many people use supermarkets notice boards to advertise or request accommodation.
In terms of which areas of the city offer the type of accommodation you are after, Jumeirah, Umm Sequiem and the Safa Park area are upmarket and offer villa-type accommodation. Satwa and Garhoud also offer villas but are slightly cheaper. Rashidiya, Mirdif and Al Quoz are mainly Arabic areas and they actually attract a lot of expats.
If you are after an apartment the most popular areas are around Bur Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Road with cheaper flats are available in Deira, Satwa and Karama. Some of the more exclusive apartment developments offer shared gym and pool facilities together with garaged car parking and the like.
If you are considering moving to Dubai with family and are interested in finding out about the education system and the availability and quality of schools, one of the best ways is to ask around! Because of the numbers of expats in Dubai there is actually a large number of primary and secondary schools from which you can to choose. Most schools are private fee paying schools and really the best way to get an idea of the reputation of a school is to ask friends, colleagues and other expats who live in Dubai. Many of the schools also have their own websites where you can learn about the curriculum they follow, after school programs etc.
When it comes to enrolling your child in the UAE there are a few restrictions you should be aware of. For example you are not allowed to change your child’s school during the academic year…unless approval is given by the Ministry of Education and the circumstances are ‘special’. This means that you have to make sure the school you choose for your child will definitely suit them. Another restriction you should be aware of is that is you move to Dubai on or after the 1st May each year you can’t enrol your child into the schooling system for that year. Instead you’ll have to enrol for the beginning of the new school year which is usually the beginning of September.
Another consideration you may have if thinking about relocation to Dubai may be the state of the health care system available there. It is fair to say that Dubai has many very well equipped hospitals and surgeries. Dubai’s Department of Health and Medical Services runs Dubai, Rashid, Maktoum and Al Wasl hospitals, with Dubai Hospital one of the best medical centres in the entire Middle East. Al Wasl is a maternity and gynaecology hospital.
The Department of Health also run out patient clinics or surgeries and in addition there are a number of quality private hospitals in Dubai offering in and out patient facilities – e.g., The American and Welcare Hospitals. Overall both the private and publicly offered health care services in Dubai are first class.
Working in Dubai you will enjoy a tax free salary and all shop goods can be bought at tax free prices, making it an incredibly attractive city to international workers and international companies. Job opportunities in Dubai and diverse and plentiful, particularly since the additions of the Media and Internet cities…Dubai is a city expanding its horizons at an unrivalled rate.
It is important to mention that some countries worldwide have tax laws enabling them to tax their nationals on their worldwide income. It is important to check your status with an international accountant before taking up employment in the city.
Dubai has a thriving expat population who make the most of their tax free lifestyle in this amazing city of opportunity. The nightlife in the city is excellent, with cocktail bars, wine bars, themed bars and typical British or Irish pubs available, many of which offer food and entertainment as well.
High standard international cuisine is available in the city’s many restaurants and if you are looking for lively evening entertainment there are numerous night clubs around the city. Some of the clubs attract international DJs; there are also Middle Eastern, Indian and Asian nightclubs offering entertainment with singers and dancers. Dubai also welcomes international touring singing and entertainment acts which cater to all tastes and ages…from traditional theatre groups to ballet, from opera to international rock and pop bands - all are regular visitors to the United Arab Emirates.
You can be assured of an exciting pace of life in Dubai and a high standard of living.
Rhiannon Williamson is an experienced publisher who has produced articles for leading travel and tourism guides and financial magazines. Her specialist knowledge about both travel and finance gives her site Shelter Offshore the unique ability to literally cover every single aspect of moving & living abroad - including the often less discussed offshore tax advantages that can be available when leaving our homeland.