Moving to Dubai?

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Moving to Dubai

When you settle in Dubai, you’ll experience a global city with an international workforce. If you take the right steps, your move to Dubai will be a walk in the park! Our InterNations Expat Guide on Dubai briefs you on your way to the Persian Gulf, with info on visas, permits, transportation, and more.
Like a Fata Morgana: beautiful Dubai in the midst of the Arabian Desert.
  • Some companies are entitled to GDFRA-D online services for help getting visas so check with them before battling through the process alone.
  • Register for your NIC when applying for your visa.
  • Transport is readily available and the Nol card covers all public transportation. 

Prior to the worldwide economic crisis, many multinational corporations considered moving to Dubai or opening a field office there to gain an economic advantage. Despite the downturn, Dubai has lost little of its attractions: Plenty of foreign companies and international financial institutions still decide to relocate there.

Dry Heat and Deserts

Sharing its main geographical features with the neighboring emirates of Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, Dubai also has a hot climate with little rainfall throughout the year but high humidity on the coast. In summer, you may face temperatures of up to 45°C. However, settling down in Dubai does not mean having to flee your new home in those hot and humid summer months. Hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, and public transportation are all air-conditioned.

Foreigners moving to Dubai may be overwhelmed by the one dominant feature of its landscape: the desert. As opposed to its southerly neighbor Abu Dhabi, Dubai has no natural oases or bodies of water. However, the city has a natural inlet or creek dividing it into a western and an eastern part (Deira). Despite having been dredged, the creek is still rather large, so that the quickest way of moving to Dubai City from Deira is by boat.

Visit or Visa?

Entering the emirate on a visit visa is no problem if you are traveling to Dubai as a citizen of one of the 46 countries eligible to receive a visit visa upon arrival. Nationals from other states need to find a UAE citizen or resident who will sponsor them. The same is the case for expats moving to Dubai for work. Employment visas should always be arranged for with the help of your employer.

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs-Dubai (GDRFA-D) is responsible for all visa enquiries concerning expats. It has many branches throughout the city with opening hours from 7:30 to 20:00, however some branches do not open until 8:00 and some close at 14:30. For queries and complaints after moving to Dubai, the department offers the Amer Service, a phone hotline for GDRFA-D customer support. 

Please remember that, if you want to sponsor your family on your own residency visa, you need to show proof of a rental contract in your name or that of your company. This serves to ensure that you are able to provide accommodation for your family. Without this contract, you will not be allowed to act as a sponsor for your family.

Employment Visa

Local companies whose foreign employees move to Dubai benefit from GDRFA-D online services. Companies can print entry permits directly without having to visit the GDRFA-D in person. Keep in mind that visa regulations can change. Therefore, it is best to contact your nearest UAE consulate or embassy before your move to find out about current regulations.

Once the employment visa has been sorted out, you need to apply for additional documents. It is mandatory for expats to get a health card and a residence permit upon their move to Dubai. Your employer must also apply for your e-card and e-contract within 60 days following your arrival.  


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Peter B. Krehmer

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

Suzanne Payne

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

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