Moving to Dubai : 7 steps you must do before | 2020 Guide

Moving to Dubai guide + infographic

If you’re considering moving to Dubai in 2020, you might have thought “I’ll figure it out when I’m there”.

While it’s a positive way of thinking, life isn’t made of rainbows and butterflies here.

But wait! Don’t get it all black or white.

As a matter of fact, you could have an amazing life in Dubai in a short time if you know what and how you’d be doing here.

So what’s the catch here?

Just before you do your online research about moving to Dubai & life in Dubai while seeing several negative opinions, you need to know something:

Everyone has their own journey here though many expats live without a plan or a vision.

So before someone gives you their own opinion based on their personal experience, ask your self:

Do you know what you want to do in Dubai?

If yes, then all you need to know is how 🙂

Actually, the majority of people here knew it, worked hard on it. They actually reached where they wanted.

In the end, it’s not rocket science, it’s just simple math. If many could do it, you can do it.

Ready to set up your plan to move to Dubai?

Here’s your most important moving to Dubai advice:

Before Moving to Dubai

There are several things to know before moving to Dubai.

While you fasten your seat belt, let’s guide you with this checklist of 7 steps you must do before moving to Dubai. (You can also check this infographic, that we prepared at the end of this post.)

1. Understand Dubai Culture Shock

Dubai Culture Shock

As said, to judge how your life is going to be in Dubai before relocating, you need first to set your plan right.

But, before the plan, you need to know about the city.

First and foremost you need to know that you’re not just moving to a different city, you’re moving to a Middle-Eastern country.

Although Dubai is extremely open and has a mix of nationalities, that makes a new environment to live in.

What about the language?

Arabic is the national language, but everyone here speaks English (though, not everyone is fluent in English here).

Futuristic & open. Not conservative

Islam is the official religion of Dubai (And the whole U.A.E.).

As a matter of fact, it’s a Muslim country and you can hear the call to prayer in the malls at prayer times. Yet, Dubai is known as one of the most liberal places in the Middle-East.

No, drinking alcohol is not prohibited

Don’t be shocked to know that alcohol drinking in Dubai isn’t prohibited. It’s actually more common than you may think!

Expats can buy alcohol by having an alcohol license. Visitors can only buy alcohol in clubs or bars, or even from duty-free shops when landing in Dubai.

It’s not only Arabs

As of Wikipedia, Around 71% of the population in Dubai are expats of Asian ethnicity (Indian, Pakistani, Filipino)

25% have Iranian origin and 3 % are Westerners

Weekend days in Dubai

Officially, the working week starts on Sunday and ends by Thursday, as the government’s official holiday (weekend) is Friday and Saturday. But sure many private companies may choose different days.

Dress to impress (but modestly!)

Most public places in Dubai ask customers to ‘dress modestly’ and advise to cover knees and shoulders.

Though, Any type of beachwear is allowed at all beaches, pools, and water parks…etc.

Safe like home

With its low crime rate and strict law enforcement, you’ll feel right at home living in Dubai.

Additionally, don’t forget that as of January 2018 Dubai isn’t tax-free anymore.

Value Added Tax (VAT) was introduced in the UAE on the first of January 2018 at the rate of 5%.

2. Sharpen your English

Sharpen Your English

As we previously mentioned, although Arabic is the national language in Dubai, everyone speaks English as it’s the most common language in the city.


While it’s great to have a proper English accent whether it’s British or American, you need to get off your high horse and remember this:

A language is a tool of communication and not everyone has a perfect spoken English.

You might face some difficulties to deliver an idea while speaking your English, especially in day-to-day processes like buying groceries or ordering food.

Furthermore, if your English isn’t strong enough you need to consider sharpening it speaking, writing and reading.

Strong English is one of the biggest features you should have if you’re moving to Dubai to work.

You can start practicing via some learning mobile apps such as (Duolingo, Memrise, Babbel, Busuu) and they’re all free on iOS & Android. 🙂

3. Search for a job

Search for a job

For a starter, you need to know that in order to be able to work in Dubai, you need a residency visa.

You have 3 options to get a residency visa:

  1. Find a job, get hired and get a sponsorship visa by the employer (the company), to have a work visa
  2. Set up your own business and register it in Dubai
  3. Get a family visa from your (Husband/parent) who works in UAE (This works in case you’re a female or under legal age)

Accordingly, you get a health insurance whether it’s by the employer or the sponsor.

Let’s focus on moving to Dubai to work:

Is moving to Dubai without a job a good idea?

Yes and no, as it’s not always easy to get a job offer overseas without a face-to-face interview.

But, that doesn’t mean that you just pack and take the first ticket expecting that you’ll get a job offer the next day you land.

Here’s the deal:

You can move to any place in the world to work, but in common sense, you need to have an idea about the jobs there and whether your expertise is required in the market.

A better solution?

Make your simple check about the job roles required in Dubai and understand the nature of jobs and where you fit in any.

How to apply for a job in Dubai?

The days where you used to pick 100 copies of your CV and knock on doors giving each company a copy are gone.

Nowadays, applying for a job is made online, especially in Dubai.

All you need to do is prepare your documents (CV or resume, portfolio if you need one, useful links, a cover letter).

And start applying online!

There are many job boards online in Dubai, such as Indeed, Bayt, Linkedin Jobs, and even Dubizzle.

Most of these platforms allow you to sign up, add your profile information & documents and then start applying for each job.

The best part?

These platforms have mobile apps that allow you to apply with one click. They even provide you with notifications every time a matching job gets posted.

How can you get your online applications shortlisted?

Are you sure you’d fit for one job vacancy you saw online?

You just need to apply well and not miss any chance of exposing your skills.

If you haven’t applied for a job before here are some tips and pieces of advice that work, before you start your job hunt in Dubai:

  • Don’t exaggerate in your CV or resume design, keep it simple and always have your Word file so you can edit it whenever you need
  • Although, it’s not a norm outside, having your updated picture included with your CV has a big impact
  • Don’t copy-paste some cliche cover letter, it’s better to write your own even if it would be 3 lines. Keep it original, talk about why you want this specific role and how you’ll add value to it when you’re hired and what makes you the best candidate. Two words: Humble but confident
  • Keep your Linkedin profile up-to-date, enhance it with a clear profile photo of you (face and shoulders updated photo, not an ugly passport photo)
  • Fill all of the information about you and your skills on Linkedin to make it easy for the recruiter to get your information
  • Avoid exposing any of your social media channels, if they’re very private to you. You don’t need any side-judgment about your profile. It’s even better to keep those accounts it private
  • Keep your English sharp in your emails. Avoid any grammar or spelling mistakes. Revising the email before sending it is a common sense in the work field
  • If you get a call from a recruiter, don’t make your first question about the salary. Ask about the job role, what you’ll do, the company itself. Show your interest first and then reach to the salary part

4. Documents to take with you before moving to Dubai

Documents before moving to Dubai

Whether you’re moving to Dubai from US or India or any place in Europe, there are some documents that you need to get from your homeland.

Get any educational certificates certified and attested

If you have any educational certificate, you need to have it with you certified and attested.

Many people came to work in Dubai and faced the problem about their educational documents not being certified or attested in their country.


Because sending the documents to your country to get them attested and back might take a long time which you can’t risk.

So if you have a Diploma, a Bachelors, or any educational certificate make sure you certify it and attest it in your country before you come to Dubai.

Requirements for applications

Furthermore, you’ll need copies of your updated CV, cover letter and any recommendation letter you have.

If you want to cut cost, that could be a good idea to print them before moving to Dubai.

Take fresh pictures passport size (At least 10 as you’ll need some for many things including the visa process).

Last but not least, you’ll need to have your passport valid for at least 6 months, for when they make your visa.

5. Learn how to use Dubai public transport

Public transport in Dubai

While we’re talking about moving to Dubai, we need to talk about moving in Dubai.

When you land here you definitely need to know how to use public transport, especially with the long distances and heat, you’d need any place to be provided with air conditioning.

There are several means of transport in Dubai, but as a newcomer, you need to focus on these two:

Dubai Metro & Dubai Bus.

Dubai metro and Dubai bus tickets are purchased in the form of NOL Card. It’s the only way to move around in public transport and so can’t simply use cash.

You can learn more how to get NOL card and which NOL card suits you the most in our Public Transport Guide here.

As a new to Dubai, Dubai Taxi would be overburden financially and it’s mostly used by tourists and for emergency rides.

6. What to pack before moving to Dubai

What to pack before moving to Dubai

In these important tips for moving to Dubai, we surely have to list important stuff you need to pack before coming:

  • All types of clothes (not just summer clothes). Be ready for high temperature and even windy weather with sandstorms sometimes
  • Formal clothes for interviews if needed, as well as clothes for the nightlife and timeouts
  • Bring your laptop as you’ll need it to search for a job, edit your CV, sending emails…etc.
  • Bring your basic households like your coffee mug, spoon, and even a plate. You’ll need every Dirham until you find a job
  • Last but not least, a notepad and pen. (I don’t think we need to mention the reason)

7. Save money for 3 months stay

Save money before moving to Dubai

When you come on a visit visa or a tourist visa to look for a job in Dubai, you can get up to 3 months visa.

Within these 3 months you’ll need money to pay for several basic stuff that summarize the cost of living in Dubai:

  • Transportation
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Sim card & credit

Let’s discuss each one of them briefly:

Transportation cost of 3 months:

As we mentioned how you’ll be using Nol card for public transportation, you’d need to know the average range of cost for using it every day.

Approximately for using Nol card for a full month using Dubai metro and bus would cost around AED 350 Per month which means AED 1050 for 3 months

Furthermore, you might need to use Dubai Taxi for some places that neither metro or bus reach exactly to the point. Let’s add more AED 200 per month, that’s AED 600 for 3 months.

Accommodation cost of 3 months:

If you’re not living with a friend, you’ll need to manage a place to live in for the period you’re looking for a job.

Beware that you can’t rent your own apartment (Even if you have the money for it) unless you’re already a resident in Dubai, and also have a bank account. (Check how to open a bank account in Dubai).

So where will you live?

Many newcomers would look for sharing apartments, where you may have a room in an apartment and pay monthly.

Renting a decent room in a sharing apartment ranges from AED 500 for a bed space to AED 1500 having a room shared with a roommate.

Since it depends on your pick, let’s calculate 3 months with approximately AED 1000 per month.

That’s around AED 3000 for 3 months without a job.

Food cost of 3 months:

You can control the cost of food (By not choosing fancy restaurants in the beginning) with an average of AED 1000 cost of food per month.

That’s around AED 3000 for 3 months.

Sim card and credit usage for 3 months:

You’re going to need to make phone calls and receive some, especially for job interviews.

Cost: It could go as few as AED 50 per month, AED 150 for 3 months.

You can read more about mobile packages in Dubai here.

After all,

Is it worth it to move to Dubai?

Dubai Lifestyle

Sure, it is!

You might be calculating now the cost of 3 months living here without a job. Yes, it would cost between 3000 Dirhams for 1 month up to 6000 Dirhams for 3 months!

That’s true, and also having a job in Dubai is a great opportunity that could cover that and more.

Practically speaking:

We gave you the safest financial advice to plan before coming to Dubai. It might cost you much less depending on the lifestyle you’ll have and the opportunity you might get such as living with a friend for a while.

Every start might be hard, but that’s why we told you in the beginning, you need to set a solid plan before moving to Dubai.

There are many reasons to move to Dubai and many opportunities waiting for you here, but Dubai lifestyle changes according to your income.

There’s no standard for how Dubai expat life is. You could go up with the quality of life as you grow in your work.

Last but not least, everything you pay for is worth it, so the next time you ask yourself “Should I move to Dubai?” pick a pen and paper, set your plan solid and read how to be a Dubai Smart, then you’ll have your answer 🙂

Finally, as we promised you at the beginning of the guide here’s an infographic of 7 steps you must do before moving to Dubai as your checklist:

Moving to Dubai infographic

Download Before Moving To Dubai Infographic

Did we miss anything you find important from your own experience? Please share it in the comment section.


  1. How’s the chances of getting a job after 40+ in Dubai? If you ask me the industry I’m looking for is Sales Executive jobs in FMCG/Travel Industry/Any Business firms/Supply Chain Management

  2. Thank you for your clear and concise information. However I would like some advice as an unmarried single mother am I able to get a Visa for my child?

  3. Nicely covered …It almost covered everything but it would be great if you can address immigration issue …job hunter can not afford Hotel and will mostly opt for PG/sharing accommodation. In that case if immigration authority asks Purpose of visit and accommodation /hotel voucher (as hotel booking won’t be for entire 90days) … how we can address this immigration issue. Have there been incidences of denying entry in such cases.??

  4. I am a male 30 years oldI just wanna go to Dubai to find a job I am tired of low paid job here in Tanzania 210$,I am working for for the government as an history teacher holding diploma in education,just looking for any casual work like laundry, security sales etc
    Please please may you advice anything coz am scared leaving my family behind while my heart tells me to find a greener pasture in dubai

  5. Very useful information here especially for those who are totally green about Dubai but are interested in finding job opportunities there. Much appreciated.

  6. Dear Team,
    As per current scenario, Please provide an article about Job hunting in Dubai with Right time to visit.

  7. Recently I got a job offer from ideal English Ras Al kahima, but they are telling I should provide money to make work visa, school only provide air ticket, I am in confused weather it’s fake job or genuine.. plz help me

    1. Hi Risdan! Indeed it is legal. You can attend the interview on a tourist visa and only joining the job should be once your working visa is done by the same company.

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