Relocation Guide: United Arab Emirates Our guide to living and working overseas
United Arab Emirates Overview of the UAE
The country is made up of seven different emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain. Abu Dhabi is by far the largest Emirate, occupying over 80% of the country, with Dubai being the second largest. From the timeless tranquillity of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, the United Arab Emirates has, in recent years, rocketed to the forefront of the international tourism stakes. Dubai has led the way for the UAE by investing in extortionately developments, many of which are hotels that have firmly established Dubai as one of the world’s top short break and holiday destinations. Abu Dhabi is also a rising star in terms of developments, this growth has been fuelled by the recent launch of their new airline Etihad. The UAE now sees several other emirates are following suit.
The United Arab States 1. Abu Dhabi (capital) 2. Dubai 3. Sharjah 4. Ajman 5. Umm al-Quwain 6. Ras al-Khaimah 7. Fujairah Area: 83,600 km2 Capital City: Abu Dhabi Currency: Dirhams Government: Constitutional Monarchy Language: Arabic and English Population: 4.5m Population Density: 64/km2 Religion: Islam
The UAE government is the federation of the seven different emirates under the UAE. The Federal Supreme Council is the countries highest federal authority and is run by the seven emirates as a unit. The Council run a voting system for decision making, therefore to reach a decision on government matters at least five emirates out of the seven have to be in agreement, two of these members must be Abu Dhabi and Dubai as they are the largest in size. The Federal Supreme Council elects the president and vice president although they are essentially hereditary. The federation is also in charge of electing members of the Council of Ministers and judges of the Federal Supreme Court. Air Energi in the UAE Our UAE Air Energi office is located in Abu Dhabi. We will be able to assist you with visas and permits, renting a home and arranging utilities and communications; buying and running a car, relocating and schooling your children, orgainising your finances, registering with the embassy and obtaining a liquor licence. Once the initial applications are made, the customer service in the UAE is excellent and you will always find someone who is more than happy to help you. Oil and Gas The oil and gas sector provides around a third of the UAE’s gross national product, thanks to a successful programme in recent years of diversification of the economy, but remains the dominant contributor of government revenues. Abu Dhabi is by far the biggest oil producer in the UAE, controlling more than 85% of the UAE’s total oil output capacity and over 90% of its crude oil reserves. Geography The unique and varied topography is one of the important geographical features of the UAE. The country has a primarily desert landscape with vast sand dunes, oases, and wadis (dry river beds). There are about 200 www.airenergi.com
offshore islands all along the Persian Gulf Coast, in addition to beautiful coral reefs and extensive salt marshes. Some of the world’s largest sand dunes are located east of Aradah in the oases of Al-Liwa, including Al Ain about 100 miles east of Abu Dhabi. In the northern part of the country, the Al Hazar Mountains rises up to 2,000 meters in some places. Climate The UAE has an arid subtropical climate with year-round sunny days and infrequent and low rainfall. The climate is hot and humid along the coast and hot and dry in the interiors. The hottest and driest time is from June to September with little rainfall. Lightweight clothing is required, with mediumweights from November to March; and in the evening. The region is prone to violent dust and sand storms. Banking It is a good idea to open up a basic bank account after you have your work visa/ residents permit stamped into your passport. For all those consultants working at Jebel Ali, you can call HSBC, Lloyds and Emirates Banks, and they will come to your office to open an account right there and then for you. You will need an original passport and original letter from Air Energi saying how much you will be earning. Most expatriates are attracted to the UAE for its tax-free salary but have very little idea of how much it actually costs to live here. The UAE is like anywhere else in the world, some things are expensive, but it is balanced out by the cheaper costs such as petrol, basic food items, entertainment and domestic staff. Also it is important to bear in mind that the quality of life in the UAE is very high. Most International banks base their regional headquarters in Dubai, providing full commercial and personal banking services. Banking hours vary depending on bank but are generally open from 08:00 – 13:00 (except Friday). Money exchanges are available all © Air Energi 2013
over the UAE and offer reasonable exchange rates, which are usually better than the banks. Hotels will usually exchange money and travellers cheques (at a standard hotel rate). Credit cards – American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard & Visa – are acceptable at most shops, hotels and restaurants. Some smaller retail shops prefer cash and will charge an additional 5% for processing credit card payments.
You will submit a monthly authorised timesheet to the designated Air Energi contact in the Qatar office. Payment into your designated account is made by Air Energi. Payment usually takes 5-7 working days and is made in USD. Every bank you have heard of will be somewhere in the UAE. Banks will offer loans, mortgages, credit cards, on-line banking etc, ATM machines are also everywhere so there really is no reason to not be able to access your cash. Most banks are open all day Saturday to Thursday.
Obviously staying in a hotel for the duration of your contract is not usually an option. The sooner we get you settled into long-term accommodation the better. First you need to decide: 1. What your budget is. 2. Whether you would like an apartment or villa.
your medical results you will then be required to submit your passport to Air Energi for visa stamping.
Cost of Living * This is an approximate guide only
Litre of milk 10dhs Loaf of bread 6dhs A bag of crisps 4dhs up Fresh orange juice 10dhs up 2.5kg washing powder 16 dhs up 5 gallons of drinking water 9dhs up Can of coke 1dhs
Full tank petrol 70dhs Carwash 35dhs Mid price hire car (1 month) 2,900dhs Agency maid (per hour) 35dhs Live-in Maid (monthly) 1,200dhs Gardner (month) 200dhs+ Electricity/water 500dhs Cinema visit 30dhs Brunch @ 5* hotel inc. wine 250dhs Restaurant meal for 4 50dhs Pizza hut for 4 px 70dhs UK newspapers 10dhs The Times (International) 7dhs
When you rent an apartment or villa it may or may not include white goods. They are fairly priced in the UAE and can easily be sold when you leave. You can sell or buy any household item on www.souq.ae the UAE equivalent to EBAY. Kitchen appliances are relatively
low cost in the UAE. A wide variety can be found in the malls of the Emirates or Jumbo Electronics. Ensure that your purchases come with a warranty. Second hand appliances are advertised on notice boards outside most large supermarkets.
Driving in the UAE
Driving in the UAE can be hazardous, but as long as you drive defensively you will be okay. The main Sheikh Zayed Road is noticeably quieter now that Salik, a road toll system has been introduced. The toll is 4dhs approx to travel on certain parts of Dubai’s main road. You will hear a lot of horror stores about driving here, but it is best to either not drive at all or to ignore them and just drive with caution. Traffic drives on the right.
Public Transport Taxis
taxis are relatively inexpensive, however they do chare additional fees for air conditioned cabs. Fares are around 2dhs per km.
Priced at around 2,750dhs per month for a Mazda 6. A hire car will be organised for your arrival in Dubai for your immediate use and it is then up to each individual whether they want to hire long-term or possibly buy a car. You cannot buy a car until you have your residence permit and drivers license. But, when you do, petrol is very cheap here and you can fill an average-sized tank for c.70dhs (£14 GBP).
3. Decide on the area you would like to live. We are happy to help you contact agents, but we strongly advise that you do some research to speed up the process, You can do this by browsing the recommended websites, looking at maps and local amenities, proximity to work, leisure, hospitals etc. There are good local newspapers; Gulf News/Al Khaleej News/Property Magazine, and it is always a good idea to talk to your colleagues, find out where they live, how much it costs and if they enjoy living there. Why not take a look at the websites below to see what you can expect (trusted agents used previously by Air Energi): www.dubizzle.com www.bayut.com www.emirates-ads.ae/properties.aspx www.bhomes.com www.justrentalsdubai.com www.propertyfinder.ae www.leaserentuae.com
Visa Application Process
Once we have prepared the required documentation we will submit your visa application to the Ministry of Labor. Once we have approval from the Ministry, your document will then be sent to the Immigration office for approval. You will then be required to undertake a medical. Once Air Energi have © Air Energi 2013
Metro & Buses
Dubai’s Metro was partially opened in 2010 and travels to limited places. The system is still a work in progess and will be for some time. Local buses may not be an option as they are often crowded and unreliable. However the service has undergone improvements in recent months.
Laws in the UAE Alcohol
A lot of people ask us about the drinking laws in the UAE and the answer is yes, you can purchase alcohol. The law is clear, for a person to buy or transport alcohol in the UAE, they must have a liquor licence. The Police operate a ‘no tolerance’ policy. Any persons found without a licence in their car or at home will have all alcohol confiscated, and depending on the amount they have, will face a prison sentence. Widely available in hotels, nightclubs and once you have your licence, it can be obtained in stores such as ‘African & Eastern’. Alcohol is quite expensive here as 30% tax is added to each purchase. Many foreign embassies refuse to help anyone who has been caught drinking and driving, taxis are cheap here so the clear message is if you are going to drink, get a taxi.
If you need to bring medicines into the country, please ensure you have a doctors letter listing the drugs and for which purpose they are used. Medicines legal elsewhere such as co-codomaol, codeine and paracodol tablets, are banned here. It is important to note that in the UAE classifications are not taken into account and drug related cases will typically result in a harsh prison sentence, whatever the drug.
Rents are beginning to prove more reasonable. Recently landlords were driving up prices on an unreasonable basis. Recently, “The Rent Committee” capped price rises at 5% per annum.
Having a baby and not being married in the UAE is Illegal. Muslim law does not tolerate single or unmarried mothers. The way around this is of course if you come to Dubai and intend to have children, get married first. It is still an offence for a man and woman to live together in the UAE, but in practice will only become a problem if an unmarried couple living together causes offence to a
neighbour. Behaviour of couples outside of the home is more of a concern to the police. Physical contact, such as holding hands in public can be seen as offensive and if you are caught having sex where you can be seen, it is a prison sentence and then deportation – so be warned.
The Health and Medical Services Department provides medical care for all UAE nationals, visitors and resident expatriates. The UAE has many well equipped public and private hospitals offering high quality health and dental care services. Medical Insurance will be provided by Air Energi.
You may require vaccinations for hepatitis A & B, and typhoid, but it is recommended that you confirm with your doctor prior to your journey.
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Tra vel Tips Be prepared
Generally, overseas travellers are more likely to be injured through unintentional injuries than to be struck down by exotic infectious diseases. In fact, accidents and traffic collisions are the most frequent cause of death among travellers, so ensure you have good insurance and if you are hiring a vehicle, ensure it is in good working order.
Copy your documents
In the unfortunate event of your luggage going missing, or your passport / wallet is stolen or lost, it is a good idea to have copies that can help you with re-issues. Take 2 colour photocopies each of your passport, plus visa stamps and documents, driving licence, important prescriptions or other ID documents. Make 2 sets of the documents and keep these copies separate from your main luggage, preferably in 2 separate bags. It is also a good idea to copy scanned or phtocopied documents to an Internet based e-mail account. Make sure someone at home knows how to access it in case of an emergency.
Check with your medical practitioner on what vaccines are required before your travel. Due to your medical history, you may require more than one dose, or you may need boosters for childhood vaccines. Check the latest travel advice and travel bulletins for your destination before you depart, and also while travelling, so you can ensure you have the latest information. Common diseases contracted by travellers include those which are the result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water, or not practising safe sex, plus a number of mosquito or tick-borne diseases endemic to tropical areas. Be sure to take measures to avoid being bitten such as wearing light-coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs, regularly applying an appropriate insect repellent and staying in mosquito-proof accommodation or using bed nets.
Taking medicines with you Book a checkup at your doctor or dentist, before you leave. If you wear glasses or contacts lenses, bring an extra pair of glasses and your prescription. Persons taking prescription medications should make sure they have an adequate supply for the trip, and/or bring their prescription, making sure it includes the medication trade name, manufacturer’s name, generic name, and dosage. Please also be aware that certain medicines are forbidden in Dubai, such as Codeine. Please check that any medication you are taking is legal and if you are unsure please contact us and we will check for you. Prepare a simple medical kit of over-the© Air Energi 2013
counter medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, antihistamine, antiseptic, diarrhoea medication), bandaids, thermometer, sunscreen, and insect repellent. When travelling overseas with medicine, (including over-the-counter or private prescription) it is important that you talk to your doctor and discuss the amount of medicine you will need to take. Carry a letter from your doctor detailing what the medicine is, how much you will be taking, and stating that it is for your own personal use. Leave the medicine in its original packaging so it is clearly labelled with your own name and dosage instructions. If you have to inject your medication, inform your airline before you travel and, if necessary, arrange a letter from your doctor explaining why you need to carry them.
Your health on long-haul flights
Keep important medication with you in case your luggage goes missing. To help avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT): drink plenty of fluids, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and whilst seated, stretch and rotate your feet and lower legs. Walking around the cabin at regular intervals will help.
If you have been scuba diving, don’t travel in an aircraft for at least 24 hours after your final dive.
Coping with Jetlag
Factor the effects of jet lag into your itinerary. In order to cope with Jetlag you should get a good deal of sleep before your journey. It is also important to rest as much as possible during your flight. Planning to arrive at your destination as near to the time when you normally go to sleep will also help with the adjustment. If you are able to plan your itinerary allow time on arrival for adjustment or plan meetings at similar times to back home. Some people advise changing their watches to destination time when they get onto the plane. While this helps many people, for those who are on regular medication, such as diabetics, watches should remain on home time until you are able to adjust your medication to local times on arrival at your destination or as suggested by your health advisor. On arrival at your destination get active as soon as possible, as exercise has been proven to improve productivity. Adjust your meals and activities to local time as soon as you can. Exposure to light is also a good way of naturally allowing your body to adjust. If you need to take a short nap, do, it will help refresh you, but don’t forget to use an alarm clock or wake up call to get you up! www.airenergi.com
If you happen to lose your baggage on arrival at your destination airport, tell the airline immediately and get suitable compensation. Agree on an amount you can spend on essential items that you will need and give them an address to deliver the luggage to when they find it. It is wise to make a copy of your passport details and any other important papers or vaccination certificates that you are carrying with you when you travel. Leave them in a safe place in the office or copy to an Internet based e-mail account. Make sure someone at home either a partner or friend knows how to access it in case of an emergency. You will need photo identification even for air travel within the UK.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times; thieves will use many tricks to distract you - wiping something off your shoulder while an accomplice is picking your pocket, getting young children to surround you while they plan to rob your belongings. Trust your instincts, especially when visiting countries where a high poverty rate comes along with high petty crime rates. When not attending meetings, try to blend in with the crowd when out and about - try not to look like a visitor! When enjoying the local nightlife, guard your food/drinks and keep your wits about you. Beware of the fact that you will be an easy target after a few too many drinks. Avoid walking home to your hotel late at night, even if it is close by. Get a taxi. Don’t take shortcuts through poorly lit areas, it pays to trust your instincts in these situations. Keep your wits about you when making new friends - men and women may come across very friendly indeed if you are the route to an easier life. Be careful of telling people where you live.
Unsafe Water - What to do
If travelling to more remote areas with poor sanitation - only drink boiled water, hot beverages, such as coffee and tea, canned or bottled carbonated beverages, beer, and wine. Ice may be made from unsafe water and should be avoided. It is safer to drink from a can or bottle of beverage than to drink from a container that was not known to be clean and dry. However, water on the surface of a beverage can or bottle may also be contaminated. Therefore, the area of a can or bottle that will touch the mouth should be wiped clean and dry.
Frequently asked questions Do I need a visa to enter the UAE? You may be required to enter on a visitors visa whilst your working visa is being processed. Rules for this vary, depending on nationally. Can I take my family with me? We advise you not to bring your family before we have secured a residency visa for you. Do I need a local bank account? Yes. We will provide you with the necessary documentation to open an account. This needs to be set up immediately to allow you to secure property and long term transportation. Will I need a medical? In order to finalise your residence visa you will be required to undergo a medical. This will be to check if you have any serious medical conditions, particularly TB or HIV. If you have either of these diseases you will not be eligible to work in the UAE.
Contacts Air Resources (Dubai branch) Oasis Shopping Mall Office Number 21 Sheik Zayed Road Dubai United Arab Emirates Phone: +971 4 379 1886 Email: UAE@airenergi.com Air Energi LLC CBI bank Building 18/02 Corniche Road Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates PO BOX 2840 Phone: +971 2658 1380 Email: UAE@airenergi.com