Before moving to the UAE: Jobs, visas, schools and more

Everything you need to know before getting on your flight to the Emirates

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So you have decided to move to the UAE – congratulations!

You are one of many expats who have chosen to leave their home country for a new life in the Emirates. As an ever-evolving nation that puts people first, more are deciding to move here and also stay longer.

But emigrating to a new country can be daunting. This is where we can help.

At the forefront of daily news, The National keeps UAE residents up to date with everything you need to know about life in the sunshine.

We have condensed all that information into useful handbooks to get you started.

So make sure you're up to speed with everything below before grabbing your passport (and check it's not about to expire!)

Work and visas

If you are moving to the UAE because you have accepted a new job then congratulations again! Your employer will sort out your visa for you as well as pay for it. It will involve a medical check, including a blood test, X-ray and fingerprinting, and will need renewing before it expires.

Here's our all-encompassing guide to what kinds of visas are available and who can apply.

If you are the spouse of someone who has been offered a job you will be sponsored by them, meaning you will get a residence visa attached to theirs. Read more about visa sponsorship here.

If you will be looking for work when you come over, then you will need to apply for a job seeker's visa. The minimum education level should be a bachelor's degree and you will be allowed to stay for up to 120 days. A deposit is required, as well as a fee for the visa.

The UAE offers a range of other visas, including:

Golden Visa: The UAE's long-term residence visa is valid for 10 years. Golden Visas can be applied for under a range of different categories with specific requirements that are listed in full on the ICA website or the GDFRA in Dubai.

Green Visa: Similar to the Golden Visa but valid for five years and available to residents who earn more than Dh15,000 a month.

Remote Working Visa: This allows you to work remotely from the UAE and is valid for one year.


There are hundreds of great schools to choose from in the UAE, so your children will be well looked after. The UAE offers private schools that are for-profit or non-profit, as well as public schools (these are free for Emiratis but foreign nationals must pay for schooling).

Dubai has a plethora of outstanding schools but they can sometimes be costly so we have put together a list of the better, more affordable schools.

Abu Dhabi is also home to top-tier education options. Here are the nine best-ranked private schools in the emirate.

Here's our guide to how to enrol your child in school in the Emirates.

Some parents choose to live very close to their children's school so for around seven months of the year they can walk to class in the morning. But be aware it may be too hot to do the same at pickup. Temperatures can reach 50ºC in the summer, and even during the height of winter they can still be around 26ºC with no cloud cover when the school bell rings.

Booking a hotel apartment

Things move fast in the UAE, and home hunting is one of them. Before you arrive you may want to arrange accommodation in a serviced apartment. It takes the stress out of the move and allows you to live somewhere furnished until you can find a home of your own.

Often, renters will move into a new place just a week after they find it so anything you see before you arrive is unlikely to stay available for long. Reduce stress by starting the search for your home once you are here. The bonus is you will have a better idea of which area is good for schools, traffic and the commute to work.

There are plenty of hotels in the UAE that offer long-stay options that you can book before you move or on arrival.

Salary and savings

Before accepting a job in the UAE, it's wise to research the market and plan your finances based on your salary.

Moving can be expensive, and many expats say they do not start saving money until a year after moving to the UAE, so make sure you have some savings to call on in the meantime.

In the UAE you should aim to save an amount that corresponds with the tax band you had in your home country, experts recommend.

Living expenses should be no more than 70 per cent of income and it is good practice to keep a month’s salary as cash for miscellaneous expenses.

The National has put together a comprehensive salary guide for 2023 below.


Many people bring their furry friends on their new adventure, but transporting pets can be stressful and costly (in the thousands of dirhams).

Dogs must be registered, vaccinated and microchipped with Dubai or Abu Dhabi Municipality’s vet services section. Any other animals being imported into the UAE require an import permit and health certificate.

Here's how to move your pet to the UAE.

How to move your pets to the UAE

How to move your pets to the UAE


It is worth your while to get various documents verified while still in your home country.

Getting university degrees and diplomas as well as marriage and birth certificates notarised and stamped by the UAE embassy at home is much easier than after you have moved. Once you are in the Emirates and employers ask to check your certificates, they will see UAE officials have already verified them.

This avoids a lengthy and costly exercise having things couriered back and forth.

See you next time …

We hope this has helped you prepare for the big move. Make sure to check out our next guide: Living in the UAE: Just Arrived

Updated: November 07, 2023, 7:22 AM