Moving to Dubai: A Checklist for a new residents coming to stay in Dubai
Planning to move to Dubai? Your experience can be a roller coaster of emotions. After all, moving to Dubai is no cakewalk. It is easy to burn all your hard-earned money when you set foot in Dubai if you are less informed about the city life. Then, there’s the anxiety of getting accustomed to new environs, not to forget the culture shock. However, some basic research and proper planning can be of great help. Here is a checklist to make your big move as swift and stress-free as possible.
Keep Documents in Order
Moving to an unknown world, separated by oceans and continents, may seem intimidating and scary. However, when you have finally decided to relocate to a new country and informed your friends and family members, you need to first cancel all the subscriptions, gym fees, etc. in your current place of residence. Then, list all your important documents such as your university degree or your marriage certificate and get them attested. To live legally with your life partner in Dubai, you must have proof of legal union. To legally start working in Dubai you need your work visa, health card, labor card, and residence visa.
- Your passport must be valid for more than six months when you enter Dubai as a tourist.
- You then need a work visa to live in Dubai. Once you find a suitable job, you can easily transfer your visa status. While your work visa is being processed, you’ll need to submit your medical records, passport copies, photo, job offer letter and visa application to the Department of Health and Medical Services. You’ll also have to get a blood test to rule out diseases like HIV, Hepatitis C and tuberculosis for the health card.
- If you are relocating in Dubai as part of a job from your country, your employer will take care of your labor card which involves sending your passport photo, employment contract, entry visa, medical records and the company’s labor licence to the Ministry of Labor.
- If you’re coming on a tourist visa for job search, be careful not to accumulate the so-called overstay fines. If your tourist visa is valid for 30 days, you must either leave the country or extend your stay in a timely matter. To avoid such unpleasant scenarios, research the current job market in Dubai, apply for Dubai jobs online, use professional networks and employ head-hunters to explore more opportunities.
- Driving license needs to be converted. However, the RTA ensures the process is hassle-free for a reasonable fee. Bring your original driving license, travel documents and an optician’s certificate to the RTA Driving License Centre. However, this option is not applicable to all nationalities and some may have to go for driving lessons and a driving test to receive Dubai driving card.
Get Important Documents Attested
If you’re coming from a country with no embassy representation in Dubai, have the documents attested there first and then get them verified in the UAE consulate once you’ve settled. While applying for residency in Dubai you will require key documents attested including your education certificates, birth certificate and marriage certificate if married.
Book Temporary Accommodation in Dubai
Getting your paperwork sorted and finding a place to live will take you a few weeks, so you will need to arrange for momentary furnished accommodation. You can consider choosing a furnished apartment for longer stay, as it is more reasonably priced than a hotel. For furnished short stay options, visit sites like Dubizzle and Property Finder. If you’re getting an unfurnished apartment, check out the websites of Sharaf DG, Carrefour or Lulu where prices are much lower.
Start the Process to Get Dubai Residency Visa
You can neither rent an apartment nor a villa without a residency visa. Hence, the faster you can sort out your visa, the faster you can get yourself settled into your new home. Usually, employer arranges this and pays for its costs. You will need to pass a medical test to get the company’s approval.
Apply for Emirates ID
Emirates ID card is another requisite after residency visa. The process can be initiated at any authorized typing center or at an Emirates ID office. You will need to submit your application, pay the fees and get your photo and fingerprints taken you at the Emirates ID center to get your ID card.
Transfer your Driving License
Depending on which country you got your driving license from, you can immediately transfer your driving license to a UAE driving license. Check the RTA website to find out whether your driving license is transferable or not. If it cannot be transferred, then you will need to enrol for driving lessons and pass a local driving test. Check here for how to get driving license in Dubai?
Book your Flight
Once you have arranged your temporary accommodation, booking your flight would be the next crucial step. Booking your flight in advance can save a significant amount of money, rather than waiting for the last minute. The earlier you book your flight, the lesser the cost will be! While flying with Emirates or Etihad is an amazing experience, low-cost carriers like Air Arabia or Flydubai can potentially save you thousands of dirhams. Not to forget checking the validity of your passport; it must be valid for at least 6 months from your travel date.
Here are a few important items you need to pack before moving to Dubai;
- All types of clothing, not only summer clothes. Dubai can sometimes surprise you with windy weather and sandstorms.
- Formal clothes for interviews if needed, as well as clothes for the nightlife and timeouts.
- Carry your laptop, you’ll need it to search for a job, edit your CV, sending emails…etc.
- Bring your basic households like coffee mug, spoon, and even a plate. You’ll need every Dirham until you find a job.
- A notepad and pen.
Search for a Job
If you are a starter, you need a residency visa to be able to work in Dubai. There are 3 options to get a residency visa
- Look for a job, be hired and get a sponsorship visa from the company
- Set up your own business in FZCO, TECOM, Sole trader and register it in Dubai
- Get a family visa from your husband/parent who works in UAE
Finding a School for Your Children
If you have children, then you should start looking for schools in Dubai as soon as possible. A lot of popular schools in Dubai are at full capacity and they have waiting lists, so the sooner you start looking the better. Visit the KHDA website for a list of schools in Dubai along with their curriculum, facilities and ratings.
If you are planning to bring your pets, Visit your Local Vet
If you are planning to bring your pets with you, visit your local vet to ensure that all their vaccinations are up to date and that your pets meet all the requirements to be brought into Dubai. You can check the list of Veterinarian hospitals in Dubai here
Update your Post Office Address
Depending on which country you live in, you can forward your mail to a new address. You need to update your friends and family with your new address and how best to contact you after your move.
Download the Dubai Now App and Makani App
Dubai Now, the perfect all in one app to pay all your utilities is easy to download and use. It contains over 50 individual apps from 22 government entities. From Salik to top up of your Nol Card and your phone credit, Dubai Now App has much to offer. Another app that is based on the special Makani address system of Dubai is the Makani app. In other words, it is Dubai’s version of Google Maps. As every building or villa in Dubai has its unique ‘Makani’ number, this app itself allows you to navigate the city more easily..
Register your Tenancy Contract with Ejari
You will need your passport and visa, your Emirates ID, your tenancy contract, a connection receipt from DEWA (or a recent bill) and the title deeds of the rented property. Ejari certificate can be collected from RERA office or authorized typing centre.
Gear Up for the Hustle
Life in Dubai is non-stop, full of hustle. People residing here normally have a long list of errands to do and they live a fast-pace life. So it’s crucial to gear up for a busy and often hectic routine.
Prepare for the Heat
Those moving to Dubai have probably heard how hot the city is. With summer temperatures often hitting the high 40 degrees Celsius, you might feel as if you live inside an oven. However, to your relief, there is air conditioning in every facility in Dubai including the bus stops. In fact, the air conditioning is so cold that people carry sweaters around with them in the peak summer months!
When temperatures are a balmy 27 degrees Celsius in the middle of December, you will feel more than grateful that you’re not freezing like the rest of your friends and family back home!
Learn How to Use Dubai Public Transport
There are several means of transport in Dubai, but as a newcomer, you need to focus on Dubai metro and Dubai bus as they are cost effective and efficient. The tickets are purchased in the form of NOL Card and not in cash. NOl Card is a smart card that enables you to pay for the use of various RTA transport modes in Dubai including Dubai Metro & Dubai Bus with a single card. Dubai Taxi would be costly and are mostly used by tourists and for emergency rides.
Understand Dubai Culture Shock
Before planning to move, make sure you know about the city.
- Arabic is the national language, but everyone here speaks English
- Islam is the official religion of Dubai, yet the city is known for being the most liberal city in the Middle-East.
- Drinking alcohol is not prohibited. Expats can buy alcohol by having an alcohol license. Visitors can only buy alcohol in clubs or bars, or even from duty-free shops when landing in Dubai.
- Around 71% of the population in Dubai are expats of Asian ethnicity (Indian, Pakistani, Filipino) 25% have Iranian origin and 3 % are Westerners
- Dress to impress but modestly with knees and shoulders covered. Any type of beachwear is allowed at all beaches, pools, and water parks…etc.
- Dubai is safe like home with low crime rate and strict law enforcement.
- Dubai isn’t tax-free since January, VAT is applied at the rate of 5%
Expensive Cost of Living
This seems like an obvious one, but sometimes people don’t imagine just how expensive the cost of living is here. Things like rent, groceries and bills can amount to surprisingly large amounts. So it’s important not to be dazzled by being offered a much higher salary than the ones in your home country – the amount might just cover the essential bills for decent living. Many people move to Dubai thinking they’ll soon be driving a Lamborghini and sipping on champagne on a daily basis – that’s often not the case.
Be Respectful of Local Culture
Even though Emiratis make up only a small portion of their country’s population, they are extremely proud of their culture and heritage. After all, they were able to turn a desert into one of the most developed parts of the world today! Keeping this in mind, it’s important to respect the local culture which they represent very prominently.
In most offices, Emirati men and women choose to wear their national dress to work. They observe certain religious customs, such as taking time out of the day to pray, and in most cases they abstain from alcohol. It’s important to keep these differences in mind in order to not say anything that might be considered rude or offensive.
Ramadan Is Observed and It Will Affect You
As Dubai is a Muslim country, Ramadan, the biggest Muslim religious holiday, is observed. The Ramadan is a month long, and during this time people must abstain from drinking and eating during the day. As Ramadan is the holiest Muslim holiday it also affects businesses; office hours are often shortened, many restaurants remain closed and alcohol is not served.
There’s no postal system
In spite of Dubai’s sophisticated infrastructure, there has never been a full post system. As a result, people don’t really have home addresses. If you need something delivered, you will have to direct your postman via nearby landmarks. Owing to this, online shopping is not so popular as it is in other countries. Yet, why would it need to be when you have you have shopping Nirvana in Dubai?
Connect with Expats
It can be lonesome moving to any new country if you don’t know the people there. Luckily in Dubai there are hundreds of ways to meet new people. Because there are so many expats in the city, they have formed extensive networks making it easy for people to connect to one another. Join expat forums and online groups.
Dubai offers an incredible nightlife. It has several clubs and bars of all varieties where alcohol is served freely and it is easy to purchase alcohol for your home as long as you obtain a permit. Get prepared to let loose and party in Dubai!
Dubai is a foodie’s dream. You can find food from almost every country that you can think of. From Chinese, to Lebanese and Jamaican, no part of the world goes unrepresented in the culinary sphere. It’s no wonder why Dubai is considered as one of the culinary cities of the world.
Football is King
Locals and expats alike are huge fans of football here in the UAE. There’s bound to be a football game being screened at restaurant or lounge and during the world cup the atmosphere becomes intense and celebratory. Dubai is the perfect place for football fans!
Rent Payments on Quarterly Basis
Rents in Dubai are paid on a quarterly basis or on a yearly basis unlike other countries where rent payments are made on a monthly basis. Similarly, salaries are paid monthly rather than on a bi-weekly basis like in the States.
By marking a tick for each item on this long checklist, we hope that you will have a smooth transition into your new home. Happy moving to Dubai!