Dubai Expat Home


Welcome to – a simple go-to-destination for aggregated and curated information for expats coming to, and living in Dubai. The site is in perpetual beta and being built and updated every day…

Please visit out Expat.Blog page to stay in touch with all the latest news, information, and updates…

The future of Dubai will be shaped by citizens and expat residents according to Shk Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Read about it here.

On last count, around 85% of Dubai’s population are expats. There are around 200 nationalities represented – people from all over the globe living and working in the city (most of the expat population consists of Indian, Pakistani, Filipino, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan). Around 5% of the expats are labelled ‘Western’ – but this seems to be on the rise lately.

This is Dubai…

Some facts on Dubai worth noting:


First thing. The weekend here is Friday and Saturday, so the work week starts with Sunday. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but you’ll get there. Friday is well known here for brunches. Most work places operate on a five days a week schedule, but some have exceptions and work six.

Getting around

Dubai has a fairly robust public transit system – operated by the RTA. The Dubai Metro is the highlight of the public transit system – it is fast, comfortable, air conditioned and driverless. Best of all it is super punctual. Standard fares start at Dhs 3 and goes up to Dhs 7.50. The Dubai Metro goes from one corner of the city to another, has stops at the airport, and helps you reach major destinations acts the city. From most Dubai Metro stations you can jump on to a connector bus, provided it is on the route to where you want to go.

Taxis are very easy to get, they are absolutely modern vehicles, air-conditioned, and metered. The approximate cost is around Dhs 1.85/km with fares starting at Dhs 5, with the minimum fare being Dhs 12. There are two main app-based ride services – Uber and Careem. Unlike in many countries, in Dubai, Uber is operated by companies, rather than individual drivers. You’ll get absolutely top end car to ride in (most are Lexus), they are totally reliable, and very punctual and quick to arrive.

You can drive… If you already have a driving licence from one of a list of 36 approved countries (see for the full list), you can start driving right away – there are plenty of rent a car agencies that offer great value. You will need your passport, a copy of your residence permit, your driving licence from country of origin, and a no-objection letter from your sponsor. You will then have to providen an eye-test certificate and a fee of Dhs 870

Here’s more useful info on Living in Dubai.

Tax Free Dubai?

Yes, Dubai is technically ‘tax free’. That’s if you’re thinking of your income being taxed. You do not pay any tax on your income whatsoever to the Dubai government. You are still required to report and pay taxes depending on your tax status with your home country.

Dubai introduced a 5% VAT on all goods and services in 2018. Most long time residents were fearful of it in the beginning, but VAT is something everyone just takes as granted. Most stores will display prices inclusive of VAT – so there’s no 5% added on at the end. VAT applies to everything – clothes and apparel, restaurants, hotels, gas, groceries, etc.

All cars in Dubai pay a road toll when they pass through certain points on the main artery in the city – Shk Zayed Road. The toll is Dhs 4 for each pass. A lot of residents who pass through these points at least a couple of times a day, if not more, consider this a tax in some ways.

Please visit out Expat.Blog page to stay in touch with all the latest news, information, and updates…

Bank Account

When you want to open a bank account in Dubai, the process requires a ‘no objection’ letter of confirmation from your sponsor. Some banks will also ask for a salary certificate, which means you’ll have to wait till that is confirmed. Basically, if you arrive in Dubai on a visit visa – even if that is extended – you cannot apply to open a bank account until you are employed. You will also need your original passport handy along with the No Objection letter and salary certificate if needed. It’s best to check the bank’s website or call ahead to avoid disappointment.

Get connected

There are three mobile service providers. These are Etisalat | Du | Virgin Mobile. All three provide post-paid and pre-paid mobile service plans – meaning you can a pay-as-you-go via a pre-paid amount being debited or and monthly billing option (usually requires a deposit). The latest mobile phones are also available on special plans from these operators and you can pay for them on monthly installments.

Cost of Living

Dubai is not cheap. But it isn’t Tokyo either. And far from, say, New York. In 2019, Dubai ranked in the 50th-60th band for cost of living. If you know how, it can offer decent value for money, but at the same time it is fairly easy to splurge and let it spin out of control.

Dubai Nice to Know

The official Dubai government website on Dubai ( Official Dubai ) is a simple reminder of the important facts on Dubai: about Dubai, population, economy, tourism, and the ruling family.

Please visit out Expat.Blog page to stay in touch with all the latest news, information, and updates…

A Place to Stay

Finding a place to stay in Dubai is not really a difficult problem. When you arrive, unless you have already found and tentatively arranged (and booked) a place to stay, you do have AirBnB options. Many of our friends and colleagues find AirBnB accommodation in Dubai a bit more expensive than some other parts of the world.

There are several portals that help you in finding a place to rent (or lease as rent is called in North America). Check out our Homes & Real Estate page for details.

Alcohol License

Yes. In Dubai, you need an official ‘alcohol license’ if you want to consume, transport or even keep alcohol at home. Regardless of where you might be – in a top 5-star hotel lounge, a bar, a nightclub or simply doing a few beers at home – you need that license.

In order to apply for the ‘alcohol license’ you need copies of your passport, your visa, a passport photograph and your Emirates ID. The fee for the license id Dhs 270, but most licensed retailers will ‘refund’ the fee to you by way of vouchers.

It’s important to know about Education in Dubai for expats… Click here.

Out and About

Dubai is one of the world’s ultimate Out and About cities. Sure, it doesn’t have the glitter of Michelin restaurants around every corner, or theater like on Broadway, but it certainly makes up for it in the enthusiasm and excitement that almost every nook and corner can provide. Check out our Out and About page for more information.

Please visit out Expat.Blog page to stay in touch with all the latest news, information, and updates…