A glittering metropolis with a skyline to rival any city in the world, Dubai's dazzling scapes, tax-free salaries, lavish lifestyle and spirit of desert adventure are big lures for expats from far and wide. Rising from the sand in a matter of a few decades, the city's uber-modern skyscapers, leisure centres, man-made islands and mammoth shopping complexes are blueprints for both developing and developed cities the world over.
As the second largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates after Abu Dhabi, Dubai was once considered a barren landscape in the oil-rich Gulf, but is now a hive of commercial and leisure activity, attracting thousands of new residents to its shores each month.
The continued growth and expansion of Dubai is largely thanks to the visionary leadership of the current ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, under whose direction many of the emirate’s best-known landmarks and staggering projects have been constructed. The colossal Gevora Hotel (the world's tallest hotel), Dubai Mall (one of the world's largest shopping centres), the Dubai Miracle Garden (the world's largest natural flower garden) and the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest skyscraper) are just a handful of the most prominent bigger-is-better additions to this desert playground.
In another progressive action, expats can both buy property and own land in Dubai, a legal right otherwise limited in most other parts of the Middle East, and which certainly serves to entice international investment.
Contrary to popular belief, Dubai’s main source of revenue isn't oil. Although oil was discovered in the emirate in the 1960s and laid the foundations for its economy, it is other industries such as construction, tourism and financial services that are now the pillars of Dubai’s extraordinary wealth and provide the most job opportunities for expats.
Newcomers to Dubai will discover a city that offers a great lifestyle with excellent healthcare facilities, solid transport infrastructure, exciting shopping options and a multitude of things to see and do. The city also has a wide variety of international schooling options for those moving with children.
While Dubai's culture is still based on Islam and its accompanying traditions, its modernity has cast a slight shadow across the rigour of the religion and expats can enjoy a largely relaxed lifestyle in the emirate. That said, it's vital that one becomes familiar with the local laws of the land, in order to respect the people and the governing rules that exist.
A stunning city, it's no wonder Dubai draws expats like moths to a flame, who tend to become so enamoured of the Emirati lifestyle that most opt to make a permanent home for themselves in this desert oasis.
"It is quite difficult to meet local Emiratis in Dubai, so most of my new friends are expats themselves coming from different countries we have 28 nationalities in our office." Read our interview with Sergey, who's been living in Dubai since 2011.
"Dubai is smack bang in the middle of the world. So for travelling purposes it is the best place to live. Quality of life is excellent and as there is no income tax, your salary is what you get in your pocket at the end of the month." Read our
interview with Clare, a South African expat in Dubai.
Are you an expat living in Dubai?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Dubai. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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