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United Arab Emirates (UAE) - Expats

The UAE attracts expats from all over the world and out of the population of 8.2 million in 2010 only 16.5% were Emiratis. Many expats find the living here of a much higher standard than they would have in their own country and even the sub-tropical climate is not a problem as all modern buildings are equipped with air-conditioning and communication is easy as the mobile phone and internet services are excellent.

English language newspapers are published in monthly and weekly editions; Gulf Today, Emirates Today, Gulf News and the Khaleej Times. For keeping up with the news or just some background noise in your own language there are many TV and radio stations in English, Urdu, Arabic and many others.

Anyone moving to the UAE from another country will find it an exciting prospect but at the same time daunting. The climate, the beaches, the shopping and some amazing architecture will to some expats be completely different to anything they have ever experienced before, but some good preparation will make the transitioning period much easier.

Many expats are attracted by the prospect of good employment, a tax-free salary and a decent standard of living and tend to live around Abu Dhabi and Dubai. For people moving to the country as part of an employer sponsored package the path should be smoother with relocation assistance but whether sponsored or independent be prepared, a huge percentage of people emigrate and then realize that it is not quite as easy as they think.

If you are being sponsored by your employer make sure you negotiate a really good package, while the salaries are usually high and tax free the initial costs can be astronomical. Whether the money is coming out of your own pocket or someone else’s a lot of money will be needed. A year’s rent in advance, probably for unfurnished accommodation, private education if you have children, medical insurance, buying a car, utility bills and / or installation costs, the list is pretty endless.

You will need basic things like a visa, work permit and Emirates ID card and he visa is renewable every two years at further cost. There is a minimum salary requirement and it is important to get all marriage and birth certificates legalised before you go. Women have to work in certain professions before they can sponsor their families move to the UAE and partners will only be accepted if a marriage certificate can be produced.

Pensioners cannot retire to the UAE unless they have family that will sponsor them and although he UK pension can be collected it will be frozen at the same rate as the date of moving, there will be no increases.

Making friends and establishing relationships is sometimes the hardest part of any move to a different area, never mind country and culture. Families with children have the chance to make new friends through schools, but for singles or couples it may be harder. There are many organisations and clubs that cover a huge range of interests and hobbies and all of them welcome newcomers. One of the most established is The British Business Group Dubai. Sports clubs are very popular and they are a good way to make friends or have a look on a website like www.meetup.com/cities/ae/

In recent years the laws about foreigners buying property have changed and it is now possible to purchase real estate in the UAE. From 2011 onwards anyone investing in a property exceeding

AED 1,000,000 is granted automatically a three year resident permit and for anyone buying a cheaper property a residence permit is often granted after the property is fully paid for. Rules and regulations do vary according to which emirate you are interested in and proper legal advice must be taken.

Where you choose to live will depend of course on your work and family needs, most expats live in gated compounds where there might be a number of villas around a shared pool or in apartments. For UK expats it might be harder to adjust as the majority are not used to going through security gates or doors to gain access to their home. Houses in compounds can sometimes be noisy especially if you are near the pool and there are lots of children. Apartment living has the disadvantage of other peoples cooking smells and hearing every footstep above you and door bang around you, unless the building is very soundproof.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners

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