Two years ago, I took a leave of absence from my job in Canada and decided to relocate to the Middle East. To be exact, I moved to Dubai. When most people hear “Dubai”, they think of luxury cars, luxury brands, in fact, luxury everything. It’s easy to imagine why a Canadian used to harsh winters would want to relocate to a sunny, exotic destination.
None of that is why I moved to Dubai.
I’ve travelled the world…several times. I’ve been lucky enough to see the skyscrapers in Hong Kong, the beautiful beaches in the Côte d’Azure, The Nile River, the Amazon and many more exotic locations.
My first experience with Dubai was in 2013 on a business trip. I immediately fell in love with the vibe of the city.
Photo credit: @dubai
Dubai is the only place I’ve ever visited where the population loves the government. A diverse population that supports the government this is, indeed a rare experience, especially when you consider the fact that the United Arab Emirates is a dictatorship.
I decided to further investigate the government that’s loved by nearly four million people from over 100 nationalities, and what they do that is so unique.
I’ve lived in several different countries including Egypt, France, The United States and Canada. The U.A.E. was by far the easiest country to relocate to.
When most governments talk of twenty and thirty-year plans, the UAE has rulers that hope to achieve greatness in their lifetime. December 2, 1971, is the day the seven emirates unified to form the United Arab Emirates. That was only 46 years ago.
From the eyes of a young professional, a young country equals limitless opportunities.
Photo credit: Twitter
The innovative Sheikh also announced on his Twitter feed, “Shamma Al Mazrui as Minister of State for Youth Affairs. She’s 22 years old, with a Masters’ from Oxford, and BSc from NYU.”
The U.A.E. invites people from all over the world to help improve the country and achieve its innovative ideas. The government generously compensates foreigners who help their country grow. Architects from Britain helped design the tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa.
Photo credit: @dubai
In a country where the expat population is over three million and the local population is less than one million, the government designates certain jobs for the local community. That initiative, called Emiratization, helps keep the unemployment rate down.
The predominantly Muslim country allows non-Muslims the ability to live a lifestyle reminiscent of home. The local Waitrose has a Pork Shop so you can still have bacon in the Middle East. Bars, clubs and pubs where alcohol pours freely, except during the holy month of Ramadan, make up a significant portion of the Dubai nightlife.
I can come and go as I please. Unlike Saudi Arabia, a woman is allowed to drive go to cafés or wherever else she pleases. Everyone is allowed to live how he or she chooses as long as their behaviour is not disrespectful to any other person.
Imagine this, you walk into a store, you see a price tag, you bring the item to the register, and that’s the price you pay. Here’s the best part: no personal income tax. So the amount you see on your paycheque is the amount deposited into your bank account.
Photo Credit: @Dubaipoliceheadquarters
The U.A.E. is one of the safest countries in the world. Crime rates are very low. The entire city of Dubai is under closed circuit monitoring. Nearly every single criminal is apprehended. The Dubai Police work in close relations with the CID, the country’s version of the FBI or MI6.
Contrary to many beliefs that women are oppressed in the Middle East, there are countless government agencies dedicated to the well-being of the woman. These organisations help with everything from parenting issues to physical and mental well-being.
There are certain jobs allocated for women. These jobs include positions in the cabinet, aviation, and the legal profession. Did you know that the person in charge of operating the Dubai metro system is a woman?
As a lady, if a man solicits his undesired attention and I ask him to stop, he must obey me. Otherwise, I can file an official complaint, and as a woman, my word will always be deemed superior.
Photo credit: @dubai
Benefits for Locals:
The government allocates money to take care of its citizens.
When a man marries a woman, the government gives him 70, 000 AED ($20, 000 USD). If he marries a divorcee, he receives 90, 000 AED ($25,000 USD). In Arab culture getting divorced is taboo. The government uses extra cash as an incentive so that population of women is not outcast in society.
When a couple gets married, they are given a choice between a home from the government, or land and money to build their home. The couple is also given money to furnish their home. They pay minimal hydro and water fees. Think two dollars per month!
Another benefit of being an Emirati citizen is free post-secondary education at home, or abroad! (Tuition, residence and books are all covered).
Health care is free for all citizens. If someone is ill, and they wish to seek healthcare abroad, it’s covered by the government, including first-class aeroplane tickets for the sick person and one member of their family along with a generous weekly allowance.
If an Emirati citizen is anywhere in the world and they run out of money, they can go to the embassy and receive an allowance.
* Note these benefits are only for Emirati citizens, or anyone who marries an Emirati.
This is great for the locals and all, but what about me, The Expat?
As an expat from a Western country (Europe, The Americas, The UK or Australia), your education and passport give you a salary of nearly double any other nationality.
- Housing or an accommodation allowance
- Most companies offer a car allowance or car service
- Free healthcare
- Free education for your children
- Visa and residency and status in the country
Note, If your contract does not include any of the above benefits, make sure to negotiate! There are no unions or things like minimum wage in Dubai. Companies will often ask you what your salary expectations are. Be honest and demand your worth.
So, why Dubai?
For me, Dubai offers an opportunity to live in a country where the government cares about the population, this makes it a very civilised place.
Being a young country, the U.A.E. gives me, a young professional, a choice from a plethora of jobs. In Canada, job hunting is tedious and takes months. Often, you don’t even end up in a job related to your field and are stuck in the rat race living paycheque to paycheque. In Dubai, the housing allowance, car allowance and health insurance actually allows you to save money.
As a young woman, I don’t ever have to worry about my safety. I can come home at any hour of the night and know beyond a shadow of a doubt I am safe.
Most of all, I’m a dreamer. So living in a country that welcomes innovation and creativity suits me.
I know this might sound like an “I love Dubai” post, and I do love Dubai, but I hope you find some of this information useful and perhaps, inspiring.