Expats challenged by hidden costs of moving to UAE


More than half of expats who moved to the United Arab Emirates encountered unforeseen problems because they were unprepared for the move.

Day to day problems like applying for a driving licence proved a challenge for more than a fifth of expats, according to research by insurance company Zurich.

Other common problems included finding a job (18%), underestimating the cost of living (17%), while 12% found coping with the weather difficult.

The biggest worry prior to arriving in the UAE was living costs (24%) and finding work (22%).

Although the research did highlight finances were more of a concern for nearly a third of younger expats, who were aged under 24.

Lack of information

More than a third of expats over 35 (34%)  tended to have more concerns about their continuing job prospects in the UAE.

Nearly half of expats spoken to by the insurer felt a lack of practical information about the UAE before their arrival contributed to their anxiety. Only 10% considered they could find the information they wanted before moving.

“Although the majority of people find moving to the UAE straightforward and simple, a third of expats struggle with the experience,” said Maroun Mourad, Zurich’s general insurance CEO in the Middle East.

“Moving to a new country is always a daunting undertaking, and everyone’s experience is different, but it seems that a lack of information increases the anxiety of people relocating to the UAE.”

Other surveys echo expat concerns about the cost of living in Dubai and the UAE.

Most expensive city in Middle East

UBS Bank has rated Dubai the most expensive city in the Middle East – and the 19th most expensive in the world.

The average monthly cost of a basket of food in Dubai is US$484), according to the study, 12.2% less than the same food would cost in New York , but more expensive than In London or Zurich.

The cost of renting a home is also rising, as Dubai jumped to joint 12th most expensive city in the world alongside Frankfurt, despite apartment rents down around a third on those charged in 2009.

School fees are also costly – while 80% per cent of Dubai’s private schools have just raised fees,by up to 9%.

Sending a child to a leading British school can cost up to £15,530 a year for Years 12 and 13.

1 thought on “Expats challenged by hidden costs of moving to UAE”

  1. The difficulty in moving to the UAE is that most of the actual workers in banks, offices and department stores are Indians who tell you what you want to hear, which may be so far off the mark as to be totally false information. Nothing happens as it should or on time, which is frustrating and time-wasting. I’m so relieved to now be in Japan where information is factual and being on time is considered a virtue!


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