For the last decade expats have been moving to Dubai in large numbers, often attractedby the promise of tax-free wealth and luxury living.
As the second largest state (or emirate) in the United Arab Emirates after Abu Dhabi, Dubai was once considered a barren landscape in the oil-rich Gulf, but is now a thriving metropolis, attracting thousands of new residents to its shores each month.
Only about eight percent of Dubai’s population of around 2 million are Emirati – the other 92 percent are expat and migrant workers. Men outnumber women by around 300 percent – a sobering prospect for the ambitious bachelor.
The growth has, of course, not only been in the form of expats in Dubai, but in the city itself. This is largely due to the visionary leadership of the current ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, under whose direction many of the emirate’s best known landmarks and projects have been constructed. The iconic Burj al Arab Hotel (one of the world’s tallest hotels), Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest skyscraper) are just a handful of the recent additions to this desert playground.
In another progressive action, expats can both buy property and own land in Dubai, a legal right otherwise limited in most other parts of the Middle East that certainly serves to entice international investment.
Contrary to popular belief, Dubai’s main source of revenue is not oil. Although oil was discovered in the emirate in the 1960s, and certainly helped build the economy, it is other industries such as construction, tourism and financial services that are contributing to Dubai’s extraordinary wealth and creating job opportunities for expats around the world.
While Dubai’s culture is still based on Islam and its accompanying traditions, its modernity has cast a slight shadow across the rigour of the religion and expats can enjoy a largely free life in the emirate. That said, it’s vital you familiarise yourself with the local laws of the land, as many of them differs very much from what we as Westerners are used to – many of which have legal consequences.