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Moving to Dubai from the UK – Everything You Need to Know

May 19, 2024June 13th, 2024No Comments

Considering a moving to Dubai from the UK? You’re in good company. Dubai’s allure for British expatriates is undeniable, with its high standard of living, abundant career opportunities, and vibrant community. While the logistics of relocating can seem daunting, careful planning can turn this exciting new chapter into a seamless transition. This comprehensive guide will take you through everything you need to know, from securing a visa to understanding the cost of living, ensuring your move to Dubai is as smooth as possible. But before we dive in, let’s cover some key information to set the stage.

  • The United Arab Emirates comprises seven emirates: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain. While Abu Dhabi serves as the capital, Dubai stands as the most populous city in the UAE.
  • The currency used in Dubai is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED).
  • With a population approaching three million, Dubai hosts a diverse community, with a significant portion consisting of foreign expatriates from Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, British, American, and African backgrounds. This multicultural blend contributes to Dubai’s vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
  • Dubai experiences a desert climate characterised by minimal rainfall. On average, the city sees rain for just 25 days a year. During June, the sun shines for 12 hours a day, while January sees about eight hours of sunlight. Temperatures soar during the spring and summer months, often exceeding 38 degrees Celsius.

Do I Need a Visa?

If you’re moving to Dubai from the UK specifically for employment, you will need a residence visa and a work permit. Typically, if you receive and accept a job offer in Dubai, your employer will apply for a work permit on your behalf through the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) while you are still in your home country.

The initial work permit allows you to enter Dubai and work legally. However, it is only the first step, as it is valid for 30 days and can be extended once for another 30 days, giving you a total of 60 days to remain in the country. During this time, you and your employer must arrange to get a residence visa, an Emirates ID, and a Labour Card. The UAE employment visa procedure starts only after you enter the country with the work permit, which serves as an entry permit.

The residence visa and Labour Card together allow you to live and work in the UAE legally. UAE residence visas are issued for 1, 2, or 3 years, depending on your purpose of travel and the discretion of the UAE authorities. However, as long as you are still working in Dubai, your employer must renew your UAE work visa within the 30 days before it expires or, if within the grace period, after it expires.

After you enter the UAE with the approval from MoHRE, your employer must apply for a residence visa for you from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai. You will also need to undergo a medical exam. Once your application is approved, the GDRFA will affix an employment visa (residence visa for employment purposes) on your passport, and you will receive an Emirates ID, valid for the same duration as the visa. You will also receive a Labour Card, which authorises you to work in the UAE.

When applying for an employment visa for the UAE, you’ll need to provide several supporting documents, including:

  • Your original passport and a copy of it.
  • A passport-sized photo that meets UAE specifications.
  • Copies of your academic qualifications, which must be authenticated by both the UAE Embassy or Consulate in your country and your country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • A medical certificate from a government-approved health center in the UAE.
  • Documents from your employer, such as the company’s commercial license or company card.

Setting up a Bank Account

Dubai’s status as the financial epicenter of the Middle East provides a plethora of banking options for residents and non-citizens alike. While the process of opening a bank account in Dubai as a non-citizen is relatively straightforward, it does involve specific requirements and steps.

To initiate the process, you’ll typically need:

  • Passport: Both the original and a copy.
  • Visa: A copy of your residence visa.
  • Employment Verification: A letter or salary certificate from your employer or visa sponsor.
  • Emirates ID: If applicable.
  • Proof of Residence: Such as a utility bill or tenancy contract.
  • Additional Documentation: Some banks may request a reference letter from your previous bank or recent bank statements.

Opening an account usually entails a visit to a branch of your chosen bank or visiting their website to submit your application and verify your identity. Once all required documents are provided, it generally takes a few days for your account to become active.

Sending Money to Dubai from the UK

Relocating across borders and moving to Dubai from the UK often necessitates transferring funds from your home country to your new location. If you’re moving to Dubai from the UK, you might need to make a lump sum transfer or regular transfers of funds. While banks can facilitate these transactions, they often come with significant costs. Consider using a cross-border payments specialist such as Rutland FX, which can help you transfer money at a significantly reduced cost with no transfer fees. Rutland FX offers same-day transfers from the UK to Dubai if the conversion and settlement are completed before the cut-off time. Otherwise, the funds will arrive on the next business day.

Funds are sent via the SWIFT network, ensuring transparency and the ability to track your payment from dispatch to receipt in your account. This process is akin to tracking a parcel, providing peace of mind and clarity about the status of your transfer.

If you need assistance or more information about transferring funds, you can request a call back. If you’re ready to make a transfer, you can sign up and start the process here.

By choosing a specialised service like Rutland FX, you can ensure your funds are transferred efficiently and cost-effectively, making your relocation to Dubai smoother and more financially manageable.


Healthcare System in Dubai

Dubai boasts a world-class healthcare system that attracts expats and medical tourists alike. The city’s healthcare infrastructure is modern, well-developed, and continually expanding, providing a wide range of medical services to meet the needs of its diverse population. The public healthcare system in Dubai is managed by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Residents can access public hospitals and clinics, which are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and staffed by highly qualified medical professionals.

Some of the prominent public hospitals include Rashid Hospital, Dubai Hospital, and Latifa Hospital, which offer a range of services from emergency care to specialised treatments.

Residents of Dubai can obtain a health card, which allows them to receive treatment at public hospitals and clinics at a reduced cost. The health card can be applied for online through the DHA website, and it requires a fee.

Private Healthcare: Dubai’s private healthcare sector is extensive and caters to both residents and expatriates. Private hospitals and clinics often provide faster service and more luxurious facilities compared to public hospitals. Some of the top private hospitals include the American Hospital Dubai, Mediclinic City Hospital, and King’s College Hospital Dubai. These institutions offer comprehensive healthcare services, including general medicine, specialised care, and advanced surgical procedures.

Expats often prefer private healthcare due to shorter waiting times and a higher standard of comfort. Private healthcare is accessible through direct payment or private health insurance, which many employers provide as part of their employment package.

Health Insurance: Health insurance is mandatory for all residents in Dubai. Employers are required by law to provide health insurance to their employees. However, dependents such as spouses and children must be covered either by the employer or the individual. There are several health insurance providers in Dubai, offering a range of plans that cover various medical services, including GP visits, specialist consultations, hospital stays, and emergency treatments.


Comparative Cost of Living: Dubai vs. London

Understanding the cost of living is pivotal when planning a move to a new country. Comparing expenses between Dubai and London will aid in effective budgeting and informed decision-making. Dubai, renowned for its luxurious lifestyle and modern amenities, can be both affordable and expensive, contingent upon individual lifestyle choices. This section offers a comprehensive comparison of the cost of living in Dubai and the City of London as a benchmark, encompassing essential aspects such as housing, transportation, food, and entertainment, providing clarity on financial expectations when relocating from the UK to Dubai.


Renting in Dubai can indeed vary widely, influenced by factors like location and amenities. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center can range from AED 4,000 to AED 8,000 per month, while outside the city center, it may be slightly lower, ranging from AED 3,000 to AED 6,000. Comparatively, renting in the UK, particularly in cities like London, can also be pricey. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center may cost around GBP 1,700 per month, and outside the city center, it could be around GBP 1,200. While Dubai offers a range of property options from luxurious villas to modern apartments, it’s worth noting that property prices in Dubai can be higher compared to the UK.


Grocery prices in Dubai can indeed be slightly higher compared to the UK. For example, a liter of milk may cost around AED 6.00, a loaf of bread approximately AED 5.00, and a dozen eggs around AED 8.00. While certain items may be imported and consequently more expensive, Dubai boasts a diverse range of grocery options to cater to different tastes and preferences. Comparatively, in the UK, grocery prices tend to be lower, with a liter of milk costing about GBP 0.90, a loaf of bread around GBP 1.00, and a dozen eggs approximately GBP 2.20.


Public transportation in Dubai is indeed modern and efficient, comprising buses, the Dubai Metro, and taxis. The cost of public transport is relatively affordable, with a monthly pass for the Dubai Metro costing approximately AED 350. However, many residents opt for private transportation, such as owning or renting a car, given the convenience and flexibility it offers in navigating the city’s vast road network. Comparatively, public transportation in the UK, particularly in cities like London, is extensive and reliable, consisting of buses, trains, trams, and the London Underground. The cost of public transport varies, with a monthly pass for London’s transport network costing around GBP 150. Additionally, the UK has well-developed road infrastructure, but owning a car can be expensive due to factors like insurance, fuel, and parking costs.


Utilities in Dubai can indeed vary depending on factors such as the size of the accommodation and usage patterns. Monthly utility bills for an 85m² apartment may average around AED 500, covering electricity, water, cooling, and waste disposal. Additionally, internet costs are generally reasonable, with basic packages starting from AED 300 per month. Comparatively, in the UK, utility costs can also vary based on factors like location and consumption. Monthly utility bills for a similar-sized apartment may average around GBP 150, covering electricity, water, heating, and waste disposal. Internet costs in the UK are comparable, with basic packages starting from GBP 20 per month.

Dining Out and Entertainment

Dining out in Dubai offers a diverse culinary scene, catering to various tastes with options ranging from local eateries to international fine dining establishments. An inexpensive meal at a restaurant may cost around AED 50, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant could range from AED 200 to AED 400. Additionally, cinema tickets are reasonably priced, typically costing around AED 50 each. Comparatively, dining out in the UK provides a similar range of options, with prices varying depending on the establishment and location. An inexpensive meal at a restaurant may cost around GBP 15, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant could range from GBP 50 to GBP 100. Cinema tickets in the UK are also reasonably priced, typically costing around GBP 15 each.

While both the UK and Dubai provide desirable living standards, the cost of living in Dubai may be higher in certain aspects such as housing and groceries. However, Dubai’s dynamic economy, tax-free income, and vibrant lifestyle amenities contribute to its appeal as an expatriate destination. Understanding these disparities will facilitate informed decision-making and effective financial management for individuals considering a move from the UK to Dubai.

Desirable Residential Areas in Dubai

When considering where to settle down when your moving to Dubai from the UK, several neighborhoods stand out for their unique offerings and appeal to different lifestyles.

  • Dubai Marina: Renowned for its vibrant waterfront lifestyle, Dubai Marina boasts trendy cafes, yacht clubs, and a bustling promenade. It’s an ideal choice for those seeking a lively atmosphere and stunning views of the city skyline.
  • Downtown Dubai: Home to iconic landmarks like the Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai offers a blend of luxury living and cultural richness. With top-notch dining options, world-class entertainment, and proximity to key business districts, it’s a coveted address for discerning residents.
  • Jumeirah: Known for its beautiful beachfront properties and relaxed coastal vibe, Jumeirah is perfect for families seeking a serene environment. With plenty of green spaces, leisure facilities, and prestigious schools, it offers a tranquil yet sophisticated lifestyle.
  • Emirates Hills: For those looking for exclusivity and luxury, Emirates Hills is unrivaled. This gated community features opulent villas set amidst lush greenery, providing a haven for affluent residents seeking privacy and prestige.
  • Palm Jumeirah: Offering a resort-style living experience on a man-made island, Palm Jumeirah is synonymous with luxury and extravagance. Its waterfront properties, stunning views, and access to world-class amenities make it a dream destination for many.

These top five areas in Dubai each offer a unique living experience, catering to a variety of preferences and lifestyles. Whether you’re seeking waterfront luxury, family-friendly communities, or urban convenience, Dubai has a neighborhood to suit your needs.


As a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, Dubai welcomes people from all corners of the globe, each bringing their own unique cultural backgrounds and traditions. However, it’s essential for expatriates to navigate the cultural landscape of Dubai with sensitivity and respect for local customs and traditions. In this section, we’ll explore key cultural sensitivities that expatriates should be aware of to ensure positive interactions and meaningful integration into the community. Understanding and embracing these cultural nuances will not only foster mutual respect and appreciation but also contribute to a harmonious and enriching experience of life in Dubai.

Respectful Attire: While Dubai is modern and cosmopolitan, it’s essential to dress modestly, especially in public places, religious sites and government buildings. Avoid clothing that is too revealing or provocative, opting for modest attire that covers the shoulders, knees, and midriff. However, it’s important to note that beachwear or swimwear is acceptable at designated beach areas or by the pool, where more relaxed attire is appropriate.

Public Displays of Affection: In Dubai, it’s important to exercise discretion when it comes to public displays of affection. While overt displays of affection, such as kissing and prolonged hugging, are generally considered inappropriate, brief welcome or greeting hugs are commonly accepted. It’s essential to maintain a level of decorum in public spaces, being mindful of local cultural norms and avoiding gestures that may be perceived as offensive or disrespectful. So, while a small peck or a brief hug for greeting purposes is acceptable, it’s best to err on the side of caution and show restraint in public settings.

Alcohol Consumption: In Dubai, alcohol consumption is regulated, and it’s important to understand the legal requirements. While alcohol is accessible in licensed venues like bars, clubs, and restaurants, consuming alcohol in public spaces or being visibly intoxicated in public is strictly prohibited. To legally purchase and consume alcohol for personal use at home, residents must obtain an alcohol license from the authorities. It’s essential to exercise moderation and discretion when drinking, ensuring compliance with the laws and regulations governing alcohol consumption. Additionally, driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense in Dubai and can lead to severe consequences, including deportation. So, it’s crucial to refrain from drink driving and always designate a sober driver or use alternative transportation methods when consuming alcohol.

Respect for Customs and Traditions: Embracing and respecting the local customs and traditions of Dubai’s diverse population is paramount for fostering harmony and mutual understanding. It’s essential to familiarise yourself with Islamic practices, cultural norms, and etiquette, showing sensitivity and respect towards different beliefs and practices. One significant aspect to be mindful of is Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and engaging in other physical needs from dawn until sunset. As a gesture of respect, non-Muslims should refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during fasting hours. Additionally, it’s advisable to dress modestly and refrain from engaging in loud or disruptive behavior out of consideration for those observing the fast. By demonstrating awareness and respect for Ramadan and other cultural practices, you contribute to a harmonious and inclusive environment in Dubai.

Language and Communication: While English is widely spoken and understood in Dubai, Arabic is the official language. Show respect by learning basic Arabic phrases and greetings, fostering positive interactions and connections with locals.

By being mindful of these considerations and demonstrating cultural sensitivity, you can navigate the nuances of Dubai’s cultural landscape with respect and grace, fostering meaningful connections and enriching your experience in this vibrant and diverse city.



Dubai’s thriving multicultural environment, coupled with its status as a global hub, makes it an attractive destination for families seeking quality education for their children. With a plethora of schools offering various international curricula, navigating the educational landscape in Dubai requires careful consideration. Here’s a brief overview to help you understand and choose the right school for your child. Dubai’s educational scene is characterised by diversity and innovation, attracting educators, students, and parents from around the world. The city offers a wide range of educational options, including international schools, each catering to different nationalities and educational philosophies.

When selecting a school in Dubai, it’s essential to consider factors such as curriculum, facilities, accreditation, and teaching quality. The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), Dubai’s educational regulatory body, conducts school inspections and provides detailed reports to help parents make informed decisions.

Dubai is committed to inclusivity and providing support for children with special educational needs (SEN). All schools in Dubai are mandated to accommodate students with SEN to some extent, ensuring access to quality education for every child.

For parents with young children, Dubai offers a variety of pre-schools and nurseries catering to different age groups and educational approaches. It’s advisable to research and register early, as popular nurseries often have lengthy waiting lists.

Several schools in Dubai consistently rank among the best in terms of academic excellence, facilities, and extracurricular offerings. Brighton College Dubai, Dubai British School Emirates Hills, and Dubai British School Jumeirah Park are just a few examples of institutions known for their high standards and comprehensive educational programs.

Recreation in Dubai

Dubai, a city known for its luxurious lifestyle and vibrant culture, offers a plethora of recreational activities to suit every taste and preference. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a culture enthusiast, or someone who enjoys leisurely pursuits, Dubai has something for everyone.

Desert Safari: Immerse yourself in the excitement of adventure with a desert safari, where you can indulge in exhilarating dune bashing rides, traverse the sandy landscape atop camels, and relish traditional Arabian entertainment beneath the starry skies.


The desert safari experience in Dubai usually unfolds in the vast sand dunes of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, situated just beyond the city limits. Numerous tour operators provide comprehensive desert safari packages, complete with hotel or residence pick-up in Dubai and seamless transportation to the desert.

Water Sports: With its stunning coastline and warm waters, Dubai is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. From jet skiing and parasailing to paddleboarding and wakeboarding, there are endless opportunities to enjoy aquatic adventures in the Arabian Gulf.

Theme Parks: Dubai is home to some of the world’s most exciting theme parks and attractions. Visit IMG Worlds of Adventure for thrilling rides and attractions based on popular movie and comic book characters, or head to Aquaventure Waterpark for a day of adrenaline-pumping water slides and attractions.

Golfing: Dubai boasts world-class golf courses set against stunning backdrops, offering avid golfers the opportunity to tee off in style. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, you’ll find courses designed by renowned architects and stunning views at every turn.

Dubai’s abundant recreational opportunities offer residents a myriad of experiences to enjoy leisure time and explore the city’s vibrant culture. From exhilarating desert safaris to thrilling water sports and world-class theme parks, Dubai promises endless adventures and experiences for residents of all ages.

Moving to Dubai from the UK presents a wealth of opportunities and experiences for British expatriates. By understanding the essentials of visa requirements, financial considerations, healthcare services, and cultural nuances, expatriates can embark on their journey to Dubai with confidence and excitement, ready to embrace all that this dynamic city has to offer.

Sending Money to Dubai?

If you’re planning a move or already in the process, you might need to transfer funds from the UK to Dubai. We offer assistance at a lower cost compared to banks. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 0203 026 0112 or request a callback below to discuss your requirements.