GenZone Logo

Standard of Living in the UAE

Table of Contents
Introduction

UAE extends far beyond its picturesque landscapes, captivating individuals worldwide with tangible benefits in business, education, and healthcare. With a stable economy and opportunities for international investment, coupled with favorable working and living conditions, the UAE emerges as an enticing destination for relocation. 

The promise of steady economic growth and a conducive environment for both personal and professional development adds to its appeal, drawing individuals seeking a better quality of life and ample opportunities for growth. In this dynamic landscape, the UAE stands as a beacon of opportunity, offering a pathway to success and prosperity for those willing to embrace its possibilities.

Life Features in the UAE

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), cultural and religious traditions deeply influence daily life, reflecting the country’s identity as a Muslim nation. While Dubai and Abu Dhabi are known for their more secular atmosphere, particularly accommodating to the influx of tourists, it’s essential to recognize the strict legislation, including severe penalties like the death penalty for drug trafficking.

Despite strides towards gender equality, with women participating in the national parliament, the UAE remains predominantly patriarchal, mirroring norms in many Muslim-majority nations. The climate, with scorching summers averaging +40°C and pleasant winters around +25°C, heavily impacts lifestyle, leading to increased electricity costs for air conditioning during summer and peak tourist seasons in winter.

The country’s affluent lifestyle owes much to prudent management of oil and gas revenues, with significant benefits extended to citizens, including free education, healthcare, and subsidized utilities. Expatriates, particularly niche specialists and scholars, also enjoy certain privileges, adding to the multicultural tapestry of the UAE, where diverse nationalities converge, fostering a rich blend of cultures and languages.

Crucial amenities like international schools and top-tier medical services cater to expatriates, making the UAE an appealing destination for families and elderly relatives alike. With its developed infrastructure, safe environment, and robust support systems, the UAE emerges as a premier choice for both work and living, offering unparalleled comfort and opportunity.

Economy and Living Costs

Ranked among the top three countries with the most advanced and diversified economies in the Middle East, the UAE has undergone significant economic restructuring over the past two decades. Efforts to reduce reliance on oil and bolster non-commodity sectors such as tourism, finance, technology, education, and healthcare have been prominent. However, despite diversification, oil and gas remain pivotal to the UAE’s economy.

Dubai serves as the financial hub of the region, attracting substantial investments and spearheading global projects. Tourism is a vital sector, drawing millions annually with its luxury resorts, high-end shopping centers, and cultural attractions. The strategic location and state-of-the-art infrastructure of sea and air ports facilitate trade and logistics, with various incentives making the UAE an appealing investment destination.

Living costs in the UAE are influenced by several factors

Housing: Rental costs vary based on factors like season, type, and location. For instance, a studio apartment in Dubai averages around 5,000 dirhams per month, with an Emirates ID and visa required for annual rentals.

Food: Imported products due to limited agriculture impact prices, with dining out for two costing approximately 120-150 dirhams and grocery items priced accordingly.

Utilities: Average bills range from 500-600 dirhams, with citizens receiving state compensation, unlike relocants and expats.

Transport: Public transport costs vary but range from 3 to 15 dirhams, with taxis preferred in smaller cities with less developed public transport.

Salaries: Industry, qualifications, and experience determine salaries, with tourism sector salaries averaging $1,300-$2,000 and healthcare professionals starting at $2,500. Native citizens typically earn higher salaries, starting from $5,000.

Additional expenses include expensive mobile and internet services and leisure activities costing at least $50, contributing to an average monthly living cost of around $2,000 per person in major cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The UAE’s high regional salaries, favorable business environment, and extensive amenities contribute to its decent standard of living, offering ample choices in housing, products, healthcare, and education.

Employment
The majority of expatriates seeking employment in the UAE typically find opportunities in the service and entertainment sector, construction, or logistics. While a small fraction of qualified professionals work in healthcare and IT industries, the native population is less likely to engage in service-oriented or manual labor roles, with many women opting to prioritize family responsibilities despite employment equality.
 
Major cities host offices of prominent international companies like Microsoft, Nokia, Sony, and Shell, often recruiting skilled professionals. Key requirements include proficiency in English, age typically capped at 35-40 years, good health, relevant work experience, and competencies aligned with employer needs. Prospective employees are generally expected to commit to a minimum one-year stay in the UAE.
 
Foreign workers must secure a work visa to operate in the country, with companies sponsoring visa expenses for hired personnel. New employees can easily open bank accounts with a visa and Emirates ID, while working hours are strictly regulated at eight hours per day, with overtime compensated separately.
 
Many expatriates are drawn to the UAE to establish their own businesses, attracted by favorable conditions and a supportive tax system. Registration processes in both Free Zones and mainland areas are streamlined, with minimal bureaucracy. Businesses are subject to a 5% VAT on most goods and services, along with a 9% corporate income tax.
 
Companies operating in Free Zones and conducting business outside the UAE may be exempt from these taxes. However, those supplying goods to the UAE mainland from Free Zones are liable for both taxes once certain turnover thresholds are met, although companies with turnovers below 3 million dirhams within the first three years are exempt from corporate tax.
Healthcare

The UAE stands out from many other Middle Eastern countries by having a modern healthcare system that provides a high level of medical services to both local residents and foreign residents. There are state and private clinics in the country, centers offering a wide range of services: from preventative check-ups to complex surgical operations. The UAE has the highest percentage of clinics with a JCI certificate.

The country’s medical facilities are equipped with the latest equipment and technologies. They employ qualified specialists from different countries. Most doctors speak English, significantly simplifying communication with foreign patients.

Patients have access to a wide range of medical services, including consultations with specialists, diagnosis of various diseases, cancer treatment, and reproductive medicine. Additionally, the UAE is known for its wellness and rehabilitation programs.

The health insurance system in the UAE also plays a significant role in making medical care accessible. All residents are required to have insurance. For employed workers, it is paid by the employer.

The country actively invests in medical tourism, offering foreign citizens the opportunity to undergo medical examinations, procedures, surgeries, treatment, recovery, and consultations with highly qualified doctors and specialists in their field.

Education

Education stands as a cornerstone of the UAE’s high living standards, with the government consistently allocating nearly 25% of GDP towards its development for over two decades.

The UAE’s education system adheres to international teaching standards, offering both state-run and private schools. Private institutions often follow international curricula, including British, American, European, or Indian systems, catering to diverse preferences. While state schools predominantly deliver education in Arabic, private schools offer instruction in various languages.

The UAE boasts prestigious universities and colleges with comparatively lower tuition fees than other countries, supplemented by targeted programs and state grants for talented students. State universities, schools, and kindergartens are free for citizens, while expatriate children typically attend private institutions.

Education in the UAE reflects cultural and religious traditions, with institutions enforcing rules on attire and behavior. Additionally, some preschools specialize in gender-segregated education for school preparation.

The diverse range of educational programs and the commitment to quality education contribute significantly to the well-being and living standards of UAE residents, underscoring the importance of the country’s education system.

Cultural Aspects
The UAE’s cultural landscape blends traditional Arabic values with a rich tapestry of cultures and traditions brought by expatriates. Islam serves as the foundational cultural element, subtly influencing daily life, albeit less prominently than in other Middle Eastern countries.
 
Public displays of emotion are uncommon, with such expressions considered an administrative offense. Traditional attire, such as the “kandura” for men and “abaya” for women, not only reflect ancient customs but also provide practicality in the desert climate.
 
Hospitality is a cornerstone of UAE culture, with invitations for coffee or tea symbolizing respect and warmth. The country has embraced feminization, granting women rights to work, drive, inherit, and engage in politics and business. However, marriage requires consent from a male guardian.
 
While the UAE offers a high standard of living, boasting safety and favorable business conditions, challenges include extreme summer weather and costs associated with healthcare and education.
 

Looking to Setup a
Business in Dubai?

Get a Message Back By a Real Person Within 60 Seconds.