Moving to Dubai

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Expats continue to move to Dubai in large numbers, often lured by the promise of excellent salaries 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 15 percent of Dubai's population of around 2.5 million are Emirati – the other 85 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, 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 most prominent 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 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.

Expats moving to Dubai will find themselves in a city that offers a great lifestyle with excellent healthcare facilities, exciting shopping and entertainment options and solid transport infrastructure. The city also has a wide variety of international schooling options for those moving with children, but seat shortages are notorious, and expat parents need to plan well ahead of time to ensure their kids get a place at the school of their choice.

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 relaxed lifestyle in the emirate. That said, it's vital that one becomes familiar with the local laws of the land, in order to respect the people and the governing laws that exist.