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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

UAE: Great Quality at a High Cost

The United Arab Emirates is among the top twenty destinations for expats - just make sure to bring some extra cash for your stay.

United in Diversity

In the United Arab Emirates, 72% of expatriates enjoy the general friendliness of the people. A bit more (73%) stress the friendliness of the local population towards foreign residents, and 30% even describe them as being very friendly. However, making local friends is considered easy by only 38% of respondents in the UAE, while almost seven-tenths (69%) agree that making new friends in general is straightforward. This may well be due to the simple fact that only 13% of the population are UAE citizens and the majority of the people are fellow expats, according to the World Population Review.

Almost three in five expatriates in the UAE agree that it is easy to settle down, get used to, and feel at home in the local culture (59%, 58%, and 57%, respectively). Thus, the UAE lands a solid 30th out of 64 countries in the Feeling Welcome subcategory of the Ease of Settling In Index.

In terms of language, the country ranks 5th out of 64. This high position is mainly due to 73% of expats overall agreeing that it is not difficult to live there without speaking the local language. More than half (52%) don't find learning the UAE's local language easy, though.

Expat Statistics 2015

Expat statistics for the UAE - infographic
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Working Pays Off

In the UAE, three-fifths of all working expats are generally satisfied with their job, and 62% find their career prospects appealing. Working hours and the work-life balance are each rated positively by 57% of the respondents, which is somewhat below the global average of 62% and 61%, respectively. This seems hardly surprising with an average work week of 45.6 hours.

In the Job Security subcategory of the Working Abroad Index, the UAE ranks 15th out of all 64 countries. While less than half the survey participants in the UAE (49%) rate their job security favorably, nine-tenths consider the economy's condition overall positive (vs. 65% globally), with more than half (52%) evaluating it as very good.

Five out of nine expats in the UAE (56%) are happy with their personal financial situation, but 42% find living there expensive. The affordability of housing in particular is considered problematic by 60% of respondents - worldwide, only 42% of the expatriates criticize this factor in their respective host country.

Taking Care and Enjoying Life

With medical care comes another expense that 35% of expats in the UAE consider high, but nearly three in five (59%) are satisfied with its quality. High percentages of approval among expats in the UAE stand out in regard to personal safety (96%), political stability (91%), and peacefulness (95%).

In the UAE, 87% appreciate the opportunity to travel and the transportation infrastructure is considered positive by four out of five survey participants (81%). When not traveling, 83% of expats enjoy the available leisure activities, which are considered completely satisfying by more than two-fifths of all expats in the UAE (42%). Altogether, the United Arab Emirates is positioned at number 21 of 64 in the Quality of Life Index.

Family Life: Safe but Costly

Leisure activities for kids are similarly appreciated by 81% of expat parents in the UAE. Furthermore, over nine in ten (91%) are generally happy about their children's health and safety, with no one rating this factor as very bad, and 81% are pleased with their kids' general well-being in the UAE. Overall, the country ranks 15th out of 41 in the Family Well-Being subcategory of the Family Life Index.

Less than half the expat parents there consider childcare and education options numerous and easily available (48% and 46%, respectively). Nevertheless, more than three-fifths (62%) are generally satisfied with the childcare options, and 64% welcome the education options for their kids. The quality of education is approved of by 71% of all survey respondents with kids in the UAE, which is only slightly below the global average of 75%.

In the Costs of Childcare & Education subcategory of the Family Life Index, on the other hand, the UAE ranks 36th out of 41. In fact, nearly half the expat parents (48%) don't find childcare easy to afford - a percentage that is even higher when looking at the costs for education (60%).

Further Reading