Standard of Living in the UAE

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Standard of Living in the UAE

Life in the UAE attracts people from all over the world not only with beautiful views but also with very real advantages in business, education, and healthcare.

Stable economic growth, the possibility of receiving international investments, good working and living conditions – all these make the UAE an attractive country for relocation.

Life Features in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country where cultural features and religious traditions are reflected in almost all areas of life.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are considered to be the most secular. In these places, there are certain relaxations related to the high tourist flow.

Also, it should not be forgotten that the UAE has quite strict legislation that, for example, permits the death penalty for drug trafficking.

Despite the fact that women are even part of the national parliament today, the United Arab Emirates, like most Muslim countries, remains a patriarchal state.

Climate conditions also significantly influence the lifestyle in the UAE. The average summer temperature is +40°C, so during this time of the year, electricity costs for the constant operation of air conditioners and climate systems significantly increase. In winter, the country can boast a maximum comfortable climate, which on average remains around +25°C. This time sees the maximum influx of tourists.

The high income level of local residents results from wise distribution of profits from the oil and gas sector. The state actively supports the native population, which constitutes no more than 15% of all country residents. Citizens can count on free education in UAE schools and universities, healthcare services. They also enjoy special tariffs for utility services and interest-free loans. Some "bonuses" are also extended to expatriates: niche specialists, renowned scientists, researchers.

Another characteristic feature of the UAE is its multinational environment. Here you can meet representatives of the most diverse nationalities, which gives the country a variety of cultures, languages, and customs.

An important aspect, including for expats, is the presence of international schools and high-quality medical services. These factors make the UAE an attractive place to relocate with children or elderly relatives.

Developed infrastructure and a safe environment create comfortable living conditions, making the UAE one of the most attractive regions for work and life.

Economy and Cost of Living

The UAE is among the top three countries with the most developed and diversified economy in the Middle East region. Over the last 20 years, the economy in the UAE has undergone structural changes aimed at reducing "oil dependency" and strengthening non-commodity sectors: tourism, finance, IT technologies, education, and healthcare. And yet, despite diversification, oil and gas remain key gross products and income sources for the Middle Eastern state.

The financial and investment sector also plays a significant role in the UAE economy. The financial center of the region is Dubai, which attracts the largest investments and sponsors interesting projects worldwide.

Tourism is equally important. Luxury resorts, upscale shopping centers, and cultural attractions annually attract millions of tourists.

The favorable geographical position and innovative equipment of sea and air ports contribute to the development of trade and logistics. Infrastructure projects, free economic zones, and tax incentives make the UAE an attractive country in terms of investment climate.

The cost of living in the UAE is influenced by many factors:

  • Housing. You can rent accommodation monthly or annually. The cost depends on the season, type, and location of the housing. On average, renting a studio in Dubai is about 5,000 dirhams (about $1,370) per month. For an annual rent, an Emirates ID and visa are required.
  • Food. A meal for two in a small restaurant costs 120-150 dirhams ($32-35). As for grocery shopping, since agriculture is poorly developed in the region due to climatic conditions, most products are imported, affecting their price. For instance, a pack of juice costs 6-7 dirhams, milk – 5-6 dirhams, and eggs – from 25 dirhams ($7).
  • Utility payments. On average, utility bills amount to 500-600 dirhams ($130-150). Their size is influenced by the building's location, the presence of infrastructure (pool, gym, SPA salon), and the season. UAE citizens pay no more than 10% of this amount, as the rest is compensated by the state. However, this does not apply to relocants and expats, even those with a visa.
  • Transport. The cost of public transport in Dubai and other tourist centers ranges from 3 to 15 dirhams, depending on the type of pass and the number of zones crossed. In smaller cities, public transport is less developed, and the population prefers to use taxi services.
  • Salaries. It all depends on the industry, qualifications, work experience. In the tourism sector, it's about $1,300-$2,000. Specialists, for example, healthcare professionals, can expect a salary starting from $2,500. The highest salaries again belong to the native population, starting from $5,000. Most Emiratis hold managerial positions, hence their significantly higher salary levels.

In the UAE, mobile and internet services are expensive (about $100 per month). A museum visit or an excursion costs at least $50.

On average, living in major cities in the UAE, such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi, requires about $2,000 per month per person.

The decent standard of living in the UAE is explained by high regional salaries, favorable business conditions, and vast opportunities in terms of choosing housing, products, as well as the quality of healthcare and education.


Most expats who come to the country in search of earnings work in the service and entertainment sector, construction, or logistics. A small part of qualified professionals is employed in healthcare and IT industries. The native population rarely works in the service sector or "manual labor." Women, despite equality in employment, prefer to devote themselves to the family.

Large cities host offices of renowned international companies (Microsoft, Nokia, Sony, Shell), which regularly invite profile specialists to work. The main requirements are:

  • Knowledge of English at least at the upper-intermediate level;
  • Age no older than 35-40 years;
  • Good health (no dangerous diseases);
  • Work experience and necessary competence for the employer.

At the same time, potential employees must remain within the UAE for at least a year.

Foreigners working in the country must obtain a work visa. If a foreign worker is invited by a company, it takes care of all expenses related to document processing. New employees can open bank accounts (with a visa and Emirates ID). The working day duration is strictly 8 hours. All overtime is paid separately.

Many foreigners come to the Emirates to open their businesses. This is facilitated by favorable conditions and a loyal tax system in the UAE.

Most procedures related to registration in both Free Zones and the mainland are carried out quickly without unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy. Business pays VAT at 5% (which applies to the sale of most goods and services) and also corporate income tax at 9%.

Companies registered in Free Zones that trade outside the UAE can get an exemption from paying these taxes. But if a company registered in a Free Zone, for example, supplies goods to the mainland part of the UAE, it must pay both taxes after reaching turnovers of 375 thousand dirhams with VAT and upon reaching 375 thousand dirhams of net profit with corporate tax. But companies whose turnover does not exceed 3 million dirhams for the first three years do not pay corporate tax.

"The Level Consulting" consulting company can assist with opening and registering a business in the UAE. LC specialists will take care of all legal issues, provide consultations, and provide all the necessary information for relocation or business relocation to the Emirates.


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.


One of the key elements of the high standard of living in the UAE is education. The government has been allocating almost 25% of GDP to the development of this system for over 20 years.

The education system in the UAE maintains international teaching standards. There are both state and private schools in the country. The latter often operate under international education programs. If desired, you can find a school where teaching is based on the British, American, European, or Indian education system. State schools primarily provide educational services in Arabic.

The UAE is home to prestigious universities and colleges, where the cost of education is lower than in other countries. Target programs and state grants are available for talented students.

For citizens, state universities, schools, and kindergartens are free. Expatriate children usually study in private sector institutions.

Education in the UAE has its peculiarities related to the country's cultural and religious traditions. For example, all educational institutions have rules regarding students' attire and behavior. Also, some preschool institutions specializing in school preparation practice separate education for boys and girls.

Thus, the availability of various educational programs and the high quality of provided education make the UAE's education system one of the components of the well-being and living standards of the country's residents.

Cultural Features

Traditional Arabic values in the UAE coexist with the diversity of cultures and traditions brought by expats to the country.

However, the foundational element of culture is Islam, which influences people's everyday life. However, the influence of religion here is noticeably weaker compared to other countries in the Middle Eastern region.

It is not customary in the UAE to openly express emotions. Moreover, displaying emotions in public is considered an administrative offense. The local population wears traditional outfits. Men wear white garments called "kandura," and women wear the traditional dress "abaya." These national costumes not only reflect ancient traditions and values but are also simply convenient in the desert climate with its heat and sand.

One of the key aspects of UAE culture is hospitality. An invitation for a cup of coffee or tea is a custom symbolizing respect and friendliness.

Feminization has reached the UAE as well. Women here can work, drive vehicles, receive inheritance, and participate in elections. They hold positions in large companies and the government. However, women can only marry after receiving consent from their guardian, who is the nearest male relative.

The standard of living in the UAE consists of many factors. The country ranks second in the world for safety, attracts investors and entrepreneurs with maximally favorable business conditions, and salary levels in the UAE are comparable to those in leading world capitals. However, it is also important not to forget about several drawbacks, such as climatic conditions in the summer season, the cost of healthcare and education.

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