Dubai is the chief city and semi-autonomous emirate in the United Arab Emirates. The city is currently in the midst of a massive economic boom, largely due to construction projects, tourism, and major sporting events. It is estimated that Dubai currently has a population of roughly 87% foreign-born citizens. This makes it a great place for relocation, as there are many resources, business opportunities, and newly-developed residential space both in and around the city. Dubai also has a low crime level, which makes it attractive to families, and people with security concerns about the region. The emirate’s GDP is valued at US$37 billion, and business analysts estimate that Dubai will nearly double its workforce by 2015. Although Arabic is the official language, English is widely spoken, and most companies conduct all of their business in English.
Due to the boom in construction (22.6% of the total economy), day laborers, mostly from Southeast Asia, have flooded the city. However the lack in adequate wages (roughly US$10 per day) has given many labor and human rights groups a cause for concern. That being said, wages in more technical or higher-level positions, are comparable to those in Europe, Japan, and the United States. The goal of the Dubai government is to develop the city into the region’s premier business location, with a heavy emphasis on conference space and tourism as well.
Dubai is known for having a hot, and sometimes humid climate, with temperatures during the warm months (May-October) averaging around 100 F (37 C). Because of this, the city is equipped with many indoor recreation and athletic facilities. There is even an indoor winter sports facility currently under construction, which will include a variety of ski terrain and multiple ice skating rinks. Like many other cities located in such a climate, air conditioning is almost everywhere, so don’t expect to be hot while indoors.
As of 2006, Dubai had 88 public schools and 132 private schools. Public schools use Arabic as a medium language, with a heavy emphasis on English as a secondary language. Private schools primarily teach in English, with some exceptions. Due to the city’s abundance of wealth, education is well funded, and are on par with some of the worlds best educational institutions. Unfortunately, due to local religious customs, censorship is common in books and media. Homosexuality, drug use, alcohol use, and the theory of evolution are considered taboos, and this transcends into the educational system.
Dubai has a thriving restaurant and nightlife scene. Due to Islamic laws on the consumption of alcohol, most restaurants, clubs, and bars are based out of hotels and resorts. Local law allows such places the exclusive right to serve alcohol, as they are designed mainly for non-muslim tourists. The New York Times listed Dubai as its “travel choice for partying” in 2008.
Visas are a requirement for both travel and relocation. A work visa can be obtained by getting a sponsor, which in most cases is the company that wishes to employ you. There are 3 types of visas in total, including tourist visas:
–Transit Visa, valid for 14 days (US$33).
–Visitor Visa, valid for 30-60 days (US$30).
–Labour Card and Residence Visa, valid for 3 years, and easily renewable (no charge).
For more info on visas, work, and work permits, check out this site.