Dubai Aside: Other Great UAE Towns for Professional Expats

The world has been hit by huge financial problems in recent years, but the numbers of professionals flocking to live and work in the UAE have increased. Dubai tends to be the place of choice for expats, due to the high standard of living and safety, as well as a cosmopolitan feel and of course the tax free income. However, there are alternative choices available in the UAE for working professionals other than the world-famous city of Dubai.

The UAE consists of seven emirates (the equivalent of principalities), namely Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. This article is going to take a look at two alternative options for you to consider if you are investigating the possibility of living in the UAE as an expatriate.Abu Dhabi has one of the largest expatriate populations in the world and is as popular a choice as Dubai in terms of employment opportunities. Expats are drawn to the oil–rich nation and with Abu Dhabi holding 9% of the world’s oil reserves, the majority of expats work in the oil and gas industry, with high wages and zero tax. Abu Dhabi benefits from having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world and has seen rapid growth in the economy over the last decade. With the number of expats comes a more relaxed way of life, despite numerous traditions and customs still being upheld. It has a slower pace of life to Dubai, despite the fact it is home to the nation’s capital.

Sharjah is growing in terms of its expat numbers, but it still has much development to go. Compared to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is more conservative but suits those wanting more of a Middle Eastern cultural experience. It is cheaper to live in Sharjah than Dubai and many people commute to work; however, Sharjah itself has a number of excellent employment opportunities of its own and many employers offer excellent packages with health insurance, schooling and housing fees included. The ease of starting up a new business in Sharjah is a relatively straightforward process. There are a number of teaching jobs on offer in Sharjah.

Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah are the main three places of choice for expats in the UEA, but still other areas are worth looking into for cheaper accommodation and the possibility of commuting to the various workplaces, which tend to congregate in the higher populated areas. A number of international chains have their headquarters in the UAE, for its central location and strong economy.

The UAE offers a cultural experience for expats, with opportunities outside of Dubai. The weather (very hot) and traditions can be a bit of a culture shock for expats from the Western world, but adjusting, particularly in places such as Abu Dhabi will be fairly easy considering the number of expat families who have now gone before you. The expat community is large and there are a number of networking clubs to join, which will help you make social ties but also help explore employment opportunities, moves and progression.

The sunny climate, accessibility for travel and the tax-free income, make it a great choice for expats who want to immerse themselves into a new lifestyle and save money. Work is mainly available in the petroleum and finance industry. Job vacancies are advertised widely. Recent moves have seen the UAE Government encouraging private sector industries to employ Nationals, in a process called Emiratisation. Industries involved include the insurance, banking and trade sectors. Although this makes it slightly more difficult to gain employment in the UAE, there are plenty of jobs, particularly management roles available in various parts of the country.

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