The United Arab Emirates is located in the Middle East, occupying the greater length of the Arabian Gulf’s southern coast with Saudi Arabia sharing its borders to the west and southwest and Oman its border to the east and southeast. With the Emirate of Abu Dhabi accounting for 87% of the UAE’s total land area, Ajman is the smallest Emirate with just 100 square miles of territory. Dubai remains the most populated Emirate, with approximately 35%.
The local currency is the Emirati Dirham (AED), which is pegged to the U.S dollar. USD$1.0 is worth AED3.67.
Typically referred to as an autocracy, the United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven Emirates, which collectively form the Federal Supreme Council. Each Emirate is governed by a hereditary absolute monarch, with one of the monarch’s selected as the President of the country, although historically the status has remained with the Ruler of Abu Dhabi being President, and the Ruler of Dubai being Prime Minister. The current President is H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi.
Economically, the UAE has the second largest economy after Saudi Arabia with a GDP of $377bn although with the ongoing change in the price of oil, the UAE is far better positioned as a diversified economy, today relying on oil and gas output for approximately 25% of its GDP.
Dubai consistently falls into one of the world’s top ten destinations for tourism with the sector remaining an important part of the Emirates growth strategy.
There are approximately nine million people in the UAE with Emirati citizens representing approximately 16% of that figure. The largest collective group of expats are from South Asia, making up around 55% of the population with Western expats making up approximately 10%.
Alcohol is available in select restaurants and large hotels. Foreign, non-Muslim residents are allowed to buy and consume alcohol within their private residences providing they obtain an alcohol license from the authorities. There are a couple of distributors who have shops throughout the Emirates that are open daily.
Women are not required to wear a veil by law, however it is common to see women wearing abajas, hijabs, niqabs and occasionally burkas. While women are free to wear what they like, it is recommended to dress conservatively when going out in public as a sign of respect towards local Islamic culture.
Yes, providing they have a valid driver’s license from their country of origin, which is acknowledged by the RTA, (the Emirati Road and Transport Authority).
Education is an important area of development for the country, however the UAE already has a wide variety of options in terms of education, in line with various international standards and curriculums such as British, American, Indian, French, German and others. This being said, while the standard of education is high, private education can be expensive and ensuring a place a certain schools can be competitive. There has been an increase in school openings in the last couple of years though which makes it much easier to find a spot.
United Arab Emirates has a dry, subtropical desert climate, with low annual rainfall and intensely hot and humid summers with temperatures reaching nearly 50 degrees Celsius. The average temperatures during the winter months are a mild 23 degrees and occasionally extra layers are required if going out in the evening.
While Arabic is the official language, English is the lingua franca of business and is spoken across the Emirates. Due to the extensive amount of South Asian foreign workers, Urdu and Hindi are also widely spoken.
All major credit cards and online banking facilities are available across United Arab Emirates. In order to open a local bank account you will have to complete your residency visa before applying. You will also require a ‘No objection certificate’ from your new employer, in order to confirm your source of income, and regular salary amount. In some cases the bank will request to see your tenancy agreement as a proof of address, although this varies from bank to bank.
United Arab Emirates is arguably the most advanced country in the Middle East in terms of its infrastructure, which consistently aims to satisfy its highly diverse residents and visitors. With everything ranging from street food to haute cuisine, from Wolfgang Puck to McDonalds, there is something for everyone.
For entertainment, both Abu Dhabi and Dubai frequently host some of the world’s biggest musicians, most recently including Rita Ora through to the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the latest films, including hits from Hollywood through to Bollywood, in particular at the annual Dubai International Film Festival.
There are multiple water amusement parks and shopping malls spread across the Emirates, including the Mall of the Emirates, which has its very own indoor ski slope, which is kept just below freezing all year round, with its very own resident penguins.
There are also an abundance of local airlines operating from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports, including the award-winning Emirates and the national carrier, Etihad, giving residents convenient access to Asia, Africa and Europe within just a few hours.
Both females and males have great career prospects in the UAE. In general, hard work and commitment is rewarded very well and moving up the ranks often happens faster than in Western countries. The international work environment provides plenty of opportunities, both for professional and personal development.
Once your job offer has been confirmed, ensuring your personal administration is in order will help greatly, for example ensuring your passport has enough spare pages and that it has a minimum of six months validity left. Make sure you get as much information about lifestyle and practicalities as you can – there are many sources online and in print. Other than that, almost all services or products can be found in the country.