One of the most popular destinations for expats, Dubai offers a unique experience with its multicultural society and cosmopolitan lifestyle. Here are some reasons why it's so popular.
The UAE has long been known as a popular destination for expats looking to make their fortune in the oil-rich country. However, Dubai has gone beyond that reputation and become a hub for all sorts of industries, such as technology or tourism.
Dubai's booming economy, which has been led by massive government investment and the city's status as a financial hub, has had a huge impact on the city's expat population with more than 200,000 new arrivals each year. Although the city still draws in a great number of tourists from both within and outside the country, it is clear that expats relocating to Dubai for work have found much more than a temporary home here.
As one of the largest cities in the United Arab Emirates and a fast-growing regional centre, Dubai boasts multiple incentives for newcomers, whether they be individuals or businesses. Dubai's population has risen from 3.3 million in 2019 to over 3.5 million in 2022, boosted by a post-pandemic influx of migrants. The emirate's government has a target of 5.8 million people by 2040 and is planning a major physical expansion for its city as part of its economic diversification strategy.
But why does Dubai attract so many expats? Here are some significant reasons:
Dubai suffered significant population loss during the initial spread of COVID-19 in 2020. The city's expatriate population, many of whom were foreigners from developing nations, left Dubai at the start of the health crisis when countries around the world closed their borders and instituted travel restrictions to slow down the spread of the virus. According to financial rating agency Standard & Poor's, quoted by news agency Bloomberg, Dubai lost 8.4% of its population during that year.
Dubai has continued to draw residents after the worst of the health crisis subsided, in part by maintaining business as usual, and keeping schools open for students during the pandemic.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the United Arab Emirates introduced a new work-visa program to attract more skilled workers and keep them in the country. The Work Remotely programme allows employees and entrepreneurs with a minimum monthly income of USD 5,000 to work remotely from the country for one year. It costs USD 611 to apply, and you must have health insurance to cover health costs in the UAE.
This new visa complements the range of other residence visas available to certain foreigners, including:
● Golden Visa: dedicated to certain investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified workers, or exceptional students, valid for 5 to 10 years
● Golden Retirement Visa: for foreign retirees, valid for 5 years
● Freelancer Visa: for those wishing to create a business on Emirati soil, in the media, education, technology, or design sectors, valid for 1-3 years.
Last year, the UAE announced the introduction of a new residency program called the Green Visa. The Green Visa allows highly skilled individuals—such as investors, businesspeople, or PhD students—to live and work in Dubai without having a corporate sponsor to vouch for their visa application.
Tax-free living has long been one of the biggest draws for expats living in Dubai. Any income you earn in Dubai is not subject to tax. There is no personal income tax on any source of your income, whether you are a resident or non-resident of the UAE. This means that you can save up to 30% of your income compared with other countries that have personal income taxes.
Dubai has one of the busiest airports in the world, which means there are more flights available than in other cities. This makes it easy for expats to travel back home for visits or holidays without having to spend too much time in transit.
It is located near major trade routes, so there are plenty of opportunities for expats from around the world to meet each other, collaborate on projects or network at events. It's also close enough to Europe that it's easy for expats based in London or Paris to make short trips over for meetings or conferences.
One of the main reasons that expats move to Dubai is because of its unique mix of cultures and nationalities, which makes it a truly multicultural environment. In fact, there are over 200 nationalities currently living in Dubai, with approximately 90% being expats who have relocated from all over the world for work or business opportunities.
This means there will always be people who speak your language or share your culture which makes it easier for expats to adjust to their new surroundings when they first arrive in Dubai.
For many people looking to make a positive change in their lives, Dubai represents the perfect opportunity. There are plenty of jobs available, many ways to get involved in the city's community and culture, and plenty to do at any given time. It's also a great place for families that are looking for a more international setting for their children.
APRIL International offers flexible international health insurance for individuals, families, and companies worldwide. For more information, explore our MyHEALTH plans for expats in Dubai.
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