Excerpted from the United Arab Emirates Guide.
Cost of Living
The UAE also is one of the top three new destination locations to which multinational corporations are sending assignees. All of this spells jobs for expatriates. The UAE currently is attracting a number of Europeans seeking jobs abroad because of poor economic conditions in their home countries. Expatriates make up about 90 percent of the UAE’s population of 8.26 million. Living costs for international workers are affected by inflation, the availability of reasonable housing and by exchange rates, all of which can have a significant impact on the real worth of expatriate compensation. Typically, the largest expense for expatriates in the UAE is housing, followed by automobile costs. For families with children, education also will be a major expense, as free public schooling is generally not available to expatriate children.
Among the many types of accommodation in the UAE are serviced apartments, furnished and unfurnished standard apartments and villas. Some accommodations are more plentiful than others; three- and four-bedroom housing is the most difficult to find. Rental prices often are advertised at their yearly rates, and usually are paid in advance for a full year. Rent for unfurnished luxury villas, which are especially popular with expatriates, can easily reach 72,000 USD per year. A furnished four-room expat apartment in a prime neighborhood can rent for as much as 87,600 USD per year. A five-bedroom villa in Dubai could rent for 136,000 USD per year. To reduce their costs, some expats, especially singles, share housing. Others commute from less-expensive outlying areas.
Even though public transportation is available and economical, many expatriates prefer to drive themselves. The UAE boasts an extensive, well-maintained, high-quality road network. Traffic drives on the right. Although driving regulations vary from emirate to emirate, a temporary driving permit from one emirate is accepted throughout the UAE. To hire a car in the UAE, a valid international driving license, a national driving license, two photographs and a passport are required. (An international driving license is required to obtain a temporary driving permit in Abu Dhabi.) Most foreign drivers’ licenses are accepted, provided the holder is a citizen or resident of the country issuing the license. If not, an international drivers’ license is required.
Medical Care and Health Insurance
Expatriates with a residence permit are eligible for a government health card. Having a health card is a good idea, because it allows expatriates and their dependents to be admitted to public hospitals and clinics in case of emergency for a nominal fee. Expats in Emirates other than Abu Dhabi who wish to use the private health care system, which is quite expensive when paid out-of pocket, should have health insurance.
This is just a sample of what you'll find in the complete United Arab Emirates Guide.