Top Things To Consider When Moving To Dubai in 2023

Hamed Ahli

Hamed Ahli

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Dubai, a dynamic hub for work and life, offers a thriving economy and a superior standard of living, making it a magnet for career-driven individuals. Recognized as a top choice for expats looking to set up businesses, this city has seen rapid growth, thanks to its shift from an oil and real estate-centric economy. Its skyline, adorned with architectural marvels and innovative projects, reflects its ambition. As the emirate’s population hit 3.5 million in 2022, projections by Arabian Business anticipate a climb to 5.8 million by 2040. With its captivating neighborhoods, cutting-edge infrastructure, and vast economic opportunities, Dubai beckons to global talents.

The Checklist for Moving to Dubai

1. Visa Requirements
For those looking to relocate to Dubai, the UAE offers a versatile visa policy catering to investors, students, professionals, remote workers, and retirees. Once a resident, you can sponsor immediate family members. A valid residency is essential for obtaining an Emirates ID card, opening a bank account, getting a UAE driving license, renting property, registering for Etisalat or Du services, and accessing other local amenities.

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You will need the following documents:

  • Passport: For various procedures.
  • Emirates ID: Official UAE ID with personal details; ensure originality.
  • Photos: Passport-sized color photos with white backgrounds for applications.
  • NOC: Sponsor/employer letter for activities like renting or purchasing.
  • Language: Arabic documents are binding; many forms require Arabic.
  • Pay Slip: Officially stamped income proof on company letterhead for some services.
  • Additional Docs: Birth/marriage certificates, licenses, records, divorce papers, or power of attorney may be needed.


2. Cost of Living
Contrary to popular belief, Dubai’s cost of living has become more affordable recently, thanks to UAE’s efforts to attract global talent and entrepreneurs. Declining prices in areas like real estate due to deflation in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have benefited expatriates. Consequently, Dubai was 42nd in the 2021 Cost of Living Survey. The city caters to various budgets, be it modest or lavish, ensuring quick housing solutions, and overall, living expenses in Dubai are reasonably priced.

3. Business Hub
Strategically located, Dubai serves as the primary trading hub for the Middle East, Africa, and beyond. The influx of multinational corporations, especially in IT, telecoms, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors, has opened ample opportunities for expats. The import-export business thrives here, with zones like Meydan Free Zone offering advanced logistics support. The real estate market spans development, property management, and brokerage.

Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 highlights ‘Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment’ as a key subsector, pointing to opportunities in health-tech innovation, health tourism, and increasing local healthcare demand. 

4. Healthcare
Dubai boasts an excellent healthcare system with state-of-the-art hospitals and clinics accessible to locals and expats. While public hospitals offer quality care, many expats opt for private facilities. English is prevalent, and a significant portion of the medical staff are foreign-trained.

Taxation in Dubai

People are drawn to Dubai for a variety of reasons, including career opportunities, tax-free income, luxurious hotels, and year-round sunshine, to name a few. They also incorrectly assume that Dubai is completely tax-free due to the absence of income tax and the emirate’s many economic free zones, which offer business incentives such as exemption from corporate tax, zero customs duties, and full repatriation of capital and profits.

Corporate Tax
Businesses are subject to UAE Corporate Tax from the beginning of their first financial year that starts on or after 1 June 2023, according to the UAE Federal Decree-Law No. 47 of 2022 on taxation of corporations and businesses (the “Corporate Tax Law”). A form of direct tax levied on the net income or profit of corporations and other entities from their business, Corporate Tax will be at 0% for taxable income up to AED 375,000, and 9% for taxable income above AED 375,000.

Free Zones have special tax and customs regimes. A Qualifying Free Zone Person can enjoy a 0% Corporate Tax rate on their “Qualifying Income.” 

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Excise tax
In the UAE, it is implemented as follows:

  • 50% on carbonated drinks
  • 100% on tobacco products
  • 100% on energy drinks
  • 100% on electronic smoking devices
  • 100% on liquids used in such devices and tools
  • 50% on any product with added sugar or other sweeteners


Value Added Tax (VAT)
VAT is a tax levied on the purchase or use of goods and services. At the point of sale, a 5% VAT is levied. Businesses collect and remit taxes on behalf of the government.

A business may choose to register for VAT voluntarily if their supplies and imports are below the mandatory registration threshold, but exceed the voluntary registration threshold of AED 187,500.

Other taxes
There is no individual income tax in Dubai, no export tax, and no import tax on goods imported into Free Zones until they are transferred to the local market.

Do’s & Don’ts in Dubai

Dubai is a modern and cosmopolitan city, but it is also a Muslim country with a conservative culture. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit, it is important to be aware of and respect the local customs and laws.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when moving to Dubai:

  • Dress code

    • Residents and visitors are required to dress modestly, particularly in conservative areas and public places.
    • Swimwear is permitted on private beaches and around private swimming pools, but visitors should cover up elsewhere.
    • Cross-dressing is frowned upon and may result in detainment by authorities.
    • When visiting mosques, religious sites, or older parts of town, both men and women may feel more comfortable wearing loose-fitting clothes that cover shoulders, arms, and legs.
    • When entering mosques, women are typically required to wear a headscarf.
  • Gestures

    • Avoid beckoning or pointing with your finger.
    • If you need to use a hand gesture, use the whole hand.
    • Making obscene hand gestures in public may result in imprisonment.
  • In Public

    • Making obscene hand gestures in public may result in imprisonment. In Public
    • Being drunk and disorderly in public is illegal and may result in a fine or worse. Drunk driving is not tolerated in the UAE.
    • Photography should be done with caution, and always ask permission before photographing a UAE national or resident, especially if the subject is a woman.
    • Public drinking is strictly prohibited, as is having alcohol or other illegal substances in one’s possession at any time.
    • Public displays of affection should be kept to a minimum; holding hands is acceptable but kissing and hugging is not.
  • Interactions and invitations

    • Accept food and refreshment before moving on to business if you are sharing a meal with your host.
    • Standing up for new guests and older or higher-ranking people is important, and men are expected to stand when a woman enters the room.
    • When greeting a Muslim member of the opposite sex, do not offer to shake hands unless they first extend their hand – both men and women (most commonly women) may prefer not to shake hands with the opposite sex for religious reasons.
    • It is customary to accept food and drink with your right hand; you should also eat with this hand.
    • If you have Muslim guests, do not serve alcoholic beverages or pork.

Dubai is a melting pot of different cultures and religions, and by following local customs and laws, you will show respect to the country and its people. If you are considering relocating to Dubai to start your own business, it’s also imperative that you do the groundwork and choose the right establishment to set up your business with.

Why Meydan Free Zone

Meydan Free Zone offers excellent business opportunities, with many successful entities already benefiting from our facilities. Enjoy a world-class business environment and free zone perks like leasing, investor visas, and employee visas without dealing with Ejari or MoHRE. Meydan Free Zone is ideal for starting in Dubai, providing quality office space and a conducive, thriving environment. Contact us to Grow from Dubai.

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