Playground of the rich and famous, full of glittering and scintillating sky scrapers: coming also with nice monetary draw-cards like no tax, Dubai and the UAE are an exciting frontier.

Before kick-starting a new business or career in Dubai, it will pay to be aware of financial processes and products available in this Arab country.

General Banking Advice

It’s important to sort out a bank account before arriving in Dubai. By comparing banking institutions such as HSBC and others, you’ll be able to get the best deal. This may seem like a hassle, but will save money the long term and prevent cash getting swallowed up by fees. Using an international bank with a presence in Dubai should make life significantly easier in the early days.

In Dubai it’s common practice to make transactions by cheque, credit card and direct deposit with cash. Most banking is conducted face-to-face, and the opening hours are between 8 am to 3 pm weekdays. So make sure to choose a branch that’s close to home or work.

Relocation Packages

When a company offers a full relocation package to the UAE, this will include accommodation and a relocation salary. Also, this should also make it easier to gain access to home finance, car loans and additional facilities like credit cards.

A UAE bank account will have limited access until a residency visa is granted, a measure which is meant to stop financial crime. Access to banking cheques is also stopped until a visa is confirmed, while credit card transactions are still available in this limited state.

The Tax Situation

Taxation is relatively simple in the UAE compared with the UK. Residents don’t pay taxes. However, this doesn’t mean that residents and expats in the UAE are exempt from tax back home, so it’s always best to check with a qualified tax accountant before taking off.

Loans and Mortgages

Since interest rates and fees can vary wildly between local UAE banks, it’s best to shop around. Keep in mind that expats need to be over the age of 21 to get a home loan. The process of signing the contracts will vary, depending upon whether purchasing the property from a private seller or property developer. In some cases, pre-approval for home finance needs to be provided before the contract is signed.

Buying a home through a property developer is called an ‘off-plan’ purchase. In order to do this, you will need to sign a reservation form. Successively, you will have to submit this along with your passport to formalise the agreement. In some cases a deposit of 20% of the home loan is required with an off-plan purchase. At this stage, make sure to work out things like completion dates, insurance, and whether or not the new place will include furniture as well.

With a little bit of planning and research, the more frustrating aspects of moving to the UAE can surely be resolved. The experience of adapting to the new lifestyle and financial environment can be a culture shock for Brits, but it’s all part and parcel of living in a new place.


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