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United Arab Emirates Residence By Investment Factsheet

The main difference about living in most countries and the United Arab Emirates as an expat is that no one pays income tax.

However, the zero tax environment isn’t the only appeal, with a booming economy, thriving expat community, hot, sunny weather year-round and some of the world’s most innovative entertainment and hospitality venues.

Dubai has a particular draw for younger foreign nationals attracted by the wealthy lifestyle. Still, the UAE is also in demand from families, prioritising the excellent education system, highly developed infrastructure and good medical facilities.

Expats do not pay income tax in the UAE and enjoy other advantages, such as the lack of capital gains tax and the absence of social security contributions.

Flights from the UK go directly to the main cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with an average journey time of just under eight hours with flights from most British airports, including London, Manchester and Birmingham.

About The UAE


United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)


Abu Dhabi has a population of 1.45 million, famous for its skyscrapers, luxury malls, the Etihad Towers and the Louvre Gallery.

Towns and cities

Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Umm Al Qaiwain and Ras Al Khaimah make up the seven independent cities,


9.365 million

British Expats

Roughly 240,000 British expats live in the UAE, primarily in Dubai.


The primary language is Arabic, although most international businesses will use English, and some of the population speaks Chinese, French, Hindi and Russian.


UAE has hot, dry weather, with a desert climate that comprises only winter and summer seasons. Between December and March, the average temperature falls to between 16.4°C (61.5°F) and 24°C (75.2°F). Summers can be hot, with averages climbing as high as 37°C (98.5°F) during August, with little rainfall from January to April.


Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the UAE is roughly $415 billion (£330 billion), the third wealthiest country globally, with primary markets in production including petroleum, cement and aluminium.


UAE on the Globe
Source Wikipedia

The UAE is located on the Arabian Peninsula, with borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman. It comprises a federation of separate emirates, including Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Umm Al-Quwain, Dubai, Ajman and Fujairah.

Residence By Investment Options

The UAE residency by investment program allows expats to gain a residence permit, also called the UAE golden visa, by investing at least AED 2 million (£432,955). Successful applicants receive long-term residency status, renewable every ten years.

To be eligible for the golden visa, investors can select from several potential beneficiaries and commercial opportunities, but many opt to purchase a property, with thresholds as follows:

  • Buying a home worth at least AED 2 million (£432,955).
  • Purchasing a property worth the same minimum value with lending from an approved local bank.
  • Investing in an off-plan property worth AED 2 million (£432,955) or more through an approved domestic real estate provider.

Once an investment has been verified and residence granted, expats can live in any of the seven emirates throughout the UAE. Other options include an investor visa, with a minimum investment of AED 10 million (£2.17 million) within the public sector.


Expats with a UAE residence permit can travel or do business with several countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.


Processing applications takes at least eight weeks typically and potentially much longer when high demand is high.


British citizens do not need a visa to travel to the UAE on a short stay and are given a visitor visa on arrival – you do not need to register or apply in advance and receive a passport stamp to confirm the date of entry.

Tourist visas are valid for a maximum of 40 days, and more extended stays require a visa application – you must apply beforehand since overstaying your visa terms may mean imprisonment, deportation or even a jail sentence.

Work visas are mandatory if you expect to work or run a business in the UAE and are granted for up to three months on a probationary period.

Residence visas are available outside the residency by investment scheme and usually must be sponsored by a local employer offering a permanent or long-term employment contract. Foreign nationals must take a blood test to be considered for a residence visa.

Learn more about applying for a UAE visa, work permit or residence visa.


Tax residency rules are different from a residence permit, and if you wish to live permanently in the UAE and enjoy the zero tax policies, you must live there for at least 183 days each year.

Expats who split their time with the UK may be liable for British taxes, depending on the origin of their income and whether they have savings, property or financial products based in the UK, including pension funds.

Need Help with your Finances?

Cost Of Living

Living costs in the UAE vary between emirates and cities, although general outgoings are around 7.3 per cent lower than in the UK. However, property rental prices are higher, around 0.4 per cent more expensive than the average in Britain.

As a rough indication, a single person requires a budget of around £734 per month to live comfortably, excluding rent, and a family of four needs £2,527 per month.


Foreign nationals are allowed to buy property in the UAE, but most expats tend to rent because there are restrictions on the locations available. Foreign nationals are only permitted to purchase homes in designated freehold zones, most of which are in Dubai.

Prices vary considerably between areas, with the average villa in Dubai selling for around AED 1.83 million (£396,154) to AED 3.7 million (£800,966), with most expats living in gated residential communities with facilities such as communal pools, security and playgrounds.

Residence by investment applicants purchasing a property must select a government-approved home to be eligible and do not pay taxes on property, wealth, or taxes against income earned by renting out a property.

Expats can rent apartments, family homes and villas and must provide evidence of their legal residency status.

Property TypeAverage Monthly Rent
One-bedroom city centre apartmentAED 4,495 / £973
One-bedroom apartment elsewhereAED 3,037 / £657
Three-bedroom city centre apartmentAED 7,455 / £1,614
Three-bedroom apartment elsewhereAED 5,307 / £1,149
Source: Numbeo

View properties for sale in the UAE through Rightmove.


The healthcare sector in the UAE, particularly in Dubai, is well developed with high standards, accessible facilities and public hospitals, most of which have English-speaking staff. The public clinics and hospitals are free or subsidised for residents, although you need to apply for a healthcare card to take advantage.

There are also many private hospitals and a vast medical centre called Dubai Healthcare City with various services, research laboratories, pharmacies and specialists.

New legislation introduced in recent years means that expats and new residents must have sufficient private health insurance. However, many relocating for work have health insurance included as part of their employment package.

UAE Residence By Investment FAQ

Can the UAE government take away residency?

If you hold a residence visa but do not live in the UAE for six months without visiting, your visa will be automatically cancelled. You must re-apply for an entry permit to be allowed back into the country.

Investors who gain residency through a property purchase must buy a home within the permitted zones and retain the property for at least two years. Failure to meet these requirements can also mean that residence is revoked.

When is a residence application rejected?

Eligibility rules are strict, and expats with a criminal record or a history of fraud will likely be refused a visa. Other issues, such as making mistakes on the application paperwork, including a code to indicate your profession, will result in automatic rejection.

How long is the flight from the UAE to the UK?

Depending on which airports you fly to and from, the average flight time is around seven hours and 45 minutes from London to Dubai.

What’s the currency in the UAE?

Depending on which airports you fly to and from, the average flight time is around seven hours and 45 minutes from London to Dubai.

Do British passport holders need a visa?

No, British passport holders do not need a visa to visit the UAE for a short-term stay. Tourist visas are granted on arrival and last for up to 40 days. If you plan to live or work in the UAE, you will need a work permit and a residence visa – outstaying the terms of your visa can result in deportation or imprisonment.

Below is a list of related articles you may find of interest.


  1. UAE Government Portal: Residence permits and visas for the UAE

This portal provides information on residence permits and visas for the UAE, including eligibility criteria, required documents, and application procedures. It covers different types of visas, including the golden visa for investors and entrepreneurs.

  1. Dubai Land Department: Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA)

The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) is the regulatory arm of the Dubai Land Department, responsible for the registration and regulation of real estate activities and transactions in Dubai. This page provides information on the registration and ownership of real estate properties in Dubai.

  1. Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED): Business and Investment

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) is responsible for promoting and supporting economic development in Abu Dhabi. This page provides information on investment opportunities, business licensing and registration, and other related services.

  1. Dubai Government: Dubai Economy

Dubai Economy is the government body responsible for economic planning, policies, and regulations in Dubai. This page provides information on business and investment opportunities in Dubai, including legal and regulatory requirements, as well as information on trade and industry sectors.

  1. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation: UAE Embassies and Consulates

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is responsible for managing UAE’s foreign policy and diplomatic relations with other countries. This page provides a list of UAE embassies and consulates worldwide, which can be useful for obtaining information and assistance related to UAE residency and investment.

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