In this article, we’ll give you advice on the main things you need to know for Australians moving to Dubai UAE, and some insider tips on making the most of your time.
Dubai is a place unlike any other on earth. It is a combination of not only Islamic tradition but also some of the most modern and impressive architectural achievements ever built. It is one of the seven Emirates that combined in 1971 to make the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that has become one of the major world business hubs. The whole place is designed for making expats happy and comfortable and is surprisingly family friendly despite being a large financial centre. Australians moving to Dubai (or most places in the UAE) will find a very warm welcome, some of the best hospitality in the world, and also one or two cultural surprises.
The Basics at a Glance:
- Currency: UAE Dirham (You may see signs that say AED or even Dhs, but they mean the same thing)
- The population of the whole UAE is roughly 10 million. In Dubai, there are about 2.7 million people.
- Main languages: The official language is Arabic, but because of a large migrant population, Hindi, Urdu and English are also very popular.
- Weather: Dubai tends to swing between two temperatures with winter having a very nice 19°C in winter and a hot summer averaging around 37°C. The thing to watch out for is the humidity which can vary wildly depending not only the time of year, but also how close you are to the water. Read more about surviving the dubai summer heat.
- Time zone: Dubai is on Gulf Time Zone, which is UCT. +0.400
- Emergency number: 997 for Fire, 998 for Ambulance, and 999 for police
- Electricity: 220-240 Volts(but you will need an adapter for the different plug type)
- Religions: 95% Muslim, 4% Christian and many migrant Hindu.
Australians Moving to Dubai: The Things You Need to Know
There are many types of visas available to visitors, but for permanent residence, you will need to be sponsored by your company (if you work for one), or get a multiple entry visa if you will be running your own enterprise based in Dubai. Be prepared to provide multiple copies of all documents when applying.
The process is streamlined for many of the companies that operate out of Dubai because they are keen to promote a business-friendly atmosphere, so things shouldn’t be overly tricky. It is however worth checking out the UAE Foreign Affairs Website for up to date details
Money and Banking
You can get around 2.7 Emirati Dirham for an Aussie Dollar (although it is worth checking OFX for an up-to-date exchange rate), and Dubai has branches for many of the major banks.
You can use your visa card at all major shops and ATMs but there will be some charges; it is better to get yourself set up with a local bank account that will provide you with everything you need for day to day living. Banks are usually open from 8am until 3pm from Saturday through Wednesday, and from 8am until 12pm on Thursdays. Be warned that most businesses and all banks will be closed on Fridays. During special times like Ramadan, banks will either be closed or working different hours but you will still be able to use the ATM.
Opening a bank account is not too difficult as long as you have the right paperwork. You can open almost any type of account but you must provide a passport, a Residence Permit and an NOC (No Objection Letter) which is a letter from your employer (and visa sponsor) giving details of your salary. You may have to provide a tenancy agreement at some banks and also photographs. If your spouse wants an account, it is very easy once you have one, as you will act as their sponsor.
Renting a House
The Dubai rental market can be volatile. In 2013, the rental prices shot up dramatically by 24%, and although this dropped to around 7% the year after, it is pretty much always going to increase year on year. Landlords are flexible when it comes to renting and you can often get a yearly price reduction if you are willing to pay for a longer period at a time, for example, if you pay for a whole year or 6 months up front. The deposit shouldn’t be more than 5% of the yearly rent.
You can check out various rental websites (propertyfinder.ae is a popular site for Aussie expats) and apartments come either furnished (everything you need), part furnished (white goods, sofa and a bed), or unfurnished (just the property).
It is worth looking in advance at the type of property you want before you actually leave. Apartments in high rises are popular, but houses in compounds are becoming more of a favourite for families. The prices can vary wildly depending on the area, so check with your employer who may have contacts on the ground.
An important point to remember is that all landlords are bound by UAE law and if there is a dispute, you can take your case to the RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency), who will adjudicate fairly (they don’t want to upset the expat rental market so they play things very straight).
Aussie expat, Emma, shares more tips on renting an apartment in Dubai here.
As with any move, you’ll have to arrange your Australian tax if you have Australian sourced income (eg. business income, or rental income) you will still need to file a tax return in Australia.
But one of the most tempting things about Dubai is that they do not levy income tax (though there are sales taxes, road taxes to make up for some of it). Whether you ultimately pay tax on your income in Dubai will depend on whether you are a tax resident of another country. You can determine whether you might still be considered a tax resident of Australia in this article.
When you get your residence permit, your children will be allowed to join in the private school system which is expensive, but very good. You could choose to join the public school system, but you would be charged as an expat anyway, and the prices are comparable.
Australians moving to Dubai can choose from a large range of schools and the majority cater for Pre-K to Grades 12 or 13. Fees vary based on which grades your children are enrolling in, but the range runs about 10,000 to 20,000 AED per year, depending on the school. There are, of course, some schools that are cheaper and some that are more expensive, but as with rent, if you are willing to pay for more than 1 year at a time, you can usually get a slightly better deal.
The standard school calendar runs for three and a half terms beginning in September:
|Academic Year 17/18|
|Staff begin:||September 3rd, 2017|
|Term 1 begins:||September 10th, 2017|
|Term 1 ends:||December 14th, 2017|
|Staff return:||January 2nd, 2018|
|Term 2 begins:||January 7th, 2018|
|Term 2 ends:||March 25th, 2018|
|Staff return:||April 1st, 2018|
|Term 3 begins:||April 8th, 2018|
|Term 3 ends:||June 28th, 2018|
|Staff finish:||July 5th, 2018|
Most private schools (excluding Japanese and Pakistani schools) follow the British Curriculum. They fill up fast, so organize well in advance.
There are a number of high-quality hospitals and healthcare centers in Dubai, but it is advisable to take out some kind of health insurance for you and your family before you leave. With insurance, you will have access to better treatments and care, and in serious situations, bills for a regular hospital can end up costing a fortune…especially in Dubai.
A standard consultation at the hospital or local clinic can set you back about $80-$100, so it’s worth getting insurance with a very low deductible. In most cases, your employer will provide some kind of local insurance. The safest and most reliable method of dealing with health is to take out international health insurance to give you faster access to treatment and choice of doctors and hospital. Companies like Cigna Global can provide a free quote online for international health insurance.
Day to Day Life For Australians Moving to Dubai
The basics of shopping and getting around will always be an enjoyable and unique experience, but it is worth remembering that the UAE are very strict with the law. If you break the law, you will be in serious trouble.
Drinking alcohol is only permitted in certain places (expat hotel bars etc…) so if you are planning a night out, get a driver you know and trust to take you home, preferably as a group. Make sure that you always carry emergency contact numbers with you for emergencies.
If you immerse yourself in the customs and culture, you are sure to have a wonderful time. As with any big foreign move, there will be things that both charm you and infuriate you. But Dubai is a very special place… make the most of it.
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