Living and working in Dubai

We understand that relocating for a new job is a big decision. If you’re thinking about relocating to Dubai to work with RCSI, there are a number of services available to ensure the relocation process is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

The following is useful information to be aware of, but more detailed, specific information and advice on all aspects of the relocation process can be provided by RCSI’s HR department. 

Dubai beach

Private healthcare services have increased at a rapid rate in the form of medical clinics and hospitals and the number of private hospitals now exceeds the number of public hospitals in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Facilities tend to be state-of-the-art.

Expatriates will need a health card to be able to access the services provided in medical facilities run by the Dubai government. The card is available from the Dubai Health Authority and applications can be made online or at primary healthcare centres. 

Foreign nationals wishing to take up employment in the UAE require work permits. In addition, residence visas are required. Holders of work visas may only take up employment in the UAE with a named employer that acts as a sponsor.

The working week in the UAE is generally Sunday through to Thursday. English is widely spoken in business, but knowledge of the more common Arab greetings is useful. The business dress code is generally formal and modest and, although Arabic is the official language, English is commonly spoken in business. 

VAT is currently not imposed on salaries or wages in Dubai and sales tax is, for the most part, minimal. Despite the favourable tax climate, living expenses can be quite costly.

Foreign nationals may open bank accounts in the UAE. Banking hours are typically 8pm-1pm from Sunday to Thursday and 8am-12pm on Friday. Applicants for a resident bank account must provide:

  • Their original passport
  • Valid residence visa
  • Original Emirates identification card
  • Proof of UAE residence in the form of either a utility bill/rental agreement/employment letter

Tenancy agreements are typically for one year in Dubai, with an option to renew. Rent is usually payable every six months or annually in advance and is typically reviewed one month before the end of the lease. The tenant is typically responsible for the payment of utilities.

Newly arrived expatriates also have the option of living in serviced apartments or apartment hotels while trying to source long-term accommodation.

The climate in the UAE is exceptionally hot and humid in the summer and mild during winter. Between May and October, the heat is intense, the hottest months being July and August when midday temperatures may exceed 48°C on the coast and humidity rises above 95%. At night, the temperature can drop to 20°C or lower. In the winter months, from November to the end of March, midday temperatures range between 20°C and 35°C. Rain is infrequent throughout most of the country and falls mainly throughout winter. 

The official language of the UAE is Arabic. However, the UAE is bilingual and English is very widely spoken and used for business communication. 

Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in the UAE and a network of roads has been constructed connecting all the major cities of the UAE.

Dubai has a number of public transport options; a high-speed driverless metro system is in operation and there is also a bus service. All journeys on public transport must be paid for via the contactless Nol Card, on to which credits can be loaded. Taxis are a popular mode of transport in Dubai and there are many ranks located across the city, mostly outside the malls and hotels. 

The unit of currency is the UAE dirham (AED), divided in to 100 fils and the dirham is pegged to the US dollar. The following denominations are in circulation:

  • Notes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 AED
  • Coins: 5, 10, 25 fils and 1 AED 

Islam is the religion of the UAE, but other religions are respected. There is an Anglican and a Roman Catholic church in Abu Dhabi, both with resident chaplains. In Dubai, there is an interdenominational and a Roman Catholic church, together with churches for the expatriate communities.

Dubai has an extensive and diverse restaurant scene catering to all tastes and budgets. Excellent restaurants can be found in most parts of the city but are particularly numerous in the area around the Dubai Marina. Visitors should note that all restaurants add a service charge.

Eating out in Dubai can be expensive, but more affordable options are available to workers in the city. Al Dhiyafah Road is known for its cheap eats, specialising in Lebanese, Iranian and Indian restaurants and the deceptively simple Bu Qtair in Jumeirah is famous among local expats for its quality seafood at low prices. There are also numerous Indian and Pakistani restaurants, many of which cater for takeaway customers and are very popular among locals and expatriates alike.

For many, Dubai is synonymous with ‘shopping’ and has become a world-famous shopping destination. In Dubai, going to the mall is considered a family activity, so malls tend to be popular gathering places with restaurants and entertainment venues as well as retailers.

The Mall of the Emirates contains 560 international brands, including a somewhat unexpected but popular Ski Dubai snowpark. The Dubai Mall, next to the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), is the largest shopping mall in the world and a tourist destination in its own right. For those looking for a more traditional experience, there are a number of traditional souks in the city, including the Gold Souk in Deira and the Souk Madinat in Jumeirah.

Dubai also plays host to many sporting events and activities. It is one of the top golf destinations in the world, with golf clubs including the Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.

The long coastlines in Dubai offer excellent fishing and it is possible to hire fully-equipped boats with crew for deep-sea fishing trips. It is also possible to hire equipment for water-skiing, sailing and windsurfing.