Join now
Log in Join

Need expat info for United Arab Emirates?

Join InterNations to meet other expats where you live and read more articles like Economy and Finance in the UAE with relevant information for expats.

Peter B. Krehmer

Living in the UAE, from Switzerland

"There are so many expats in the UAE, but the InterNations Dubai Ramadan dinners brought some wonderful guests together. "

Suzanne Payne

Living in the UAE, from the UK

"Dubai is such an overwhelming mixture of tradition and modernity that I was very grateful for all the support from other expats. "

InterNations - a community of trust

Economy and Finance in the UAE

Though the UAE economy still depends on oil and gas to a large extent, the heyday of fossil fuels is over. Fortunately, an economic diversification strategy is well underway. In terms of personal finance, expats should be aware that living expenses can be huge, particularly for housing and education.

Due to falling oil prices, the UAE economy is no longer able to rely on Abu Dhabi’s petrodollars for sustained growth. Fortunately, the UAE has been trying to diversify its national economy for some time now. Its strategic location — ideally situated for an international trading hub between East Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia — its openness to foreign investment, and its business-friendly environment all help to attract a wider range of economic activities and various companies from around the world. So far, the UAE has already benefitted from a relatively strong service sector, especially with regard to commerce and tourism. The fact that Dubai will be hosting the Expo 2020 might also stimulate investment in the construction sector and some large-scale infrastructure projects.

A Life of Luxury — Or Strict Budgeting?

Although expats with a job offer in the UAE will be glad to draw a tax-free salary, they should keep in mind that life in the Emirates isn’t exactly cheap. They should expect to spend about half of their monthly income on rent. Dubai and especially Abu Dhabi are listed among the most expensive property markets in the world in some rankings. Private health insurance policies for dependent family members, as well as international schools for expat kids, are some of the biggest financial burdens apart from housing and accommodation. If you have an unlimited budget on your credit card, though, then the sky’s the limit! There are plenty of opportunities to treat yourself in the UAE’s huge shopping malls and leisure facilities.

Opening Your New Bank Account in the UAE

Once you have moved to the UAE, you need to open a local bank account at one of the more than 45 commercial and retail banks in the Emirates. Fortunately, this step is relatively easy. Expat employees just need a valid passport with their residence visa, a letter of no objection from their visa sponsor, and a salary certificate from their employer to get started. Having an ATM card from a local bank will come in really handy: that way, you can withdraw cash without incurring any additional fees for international transactions — and cash still remains the most popular payment option in the UAE. But don’t worry! International credit cards are also widely accepted, especially in larger hotels and shopping malls. So you’ll have no difficulties in spending your hard-earned dirhams!

InterNations Expat Magazine