Living in the UAE is an exciting prospect for many, thanks to its culturally diverse population and policies, elevated lifestyle, and endless entertainment options. Home to architectural marvels, stunning hotels, diverse natural landscapes and places of cultural importance, the UAE is a global powerhouse.
The Gulf nation is a diverse country with a thriving expatriate population, an amalgamation of people from different parts of the globe. According to HSBC’s 14th Annual Expat Explorer study, the Emirates currently ranks fourth as the best place worldwide for expat living and future outlook. But what makes this country so great for expats? Let's take a look.
1. Elevated quality of living
The well-connected public transport system, facilitative public infrastructure, high-end shopping centres, thriving nightlife, stunning skyscapes, and architectural marvels of the metropolitan cities in the UAE are incredibly alluring as it provides a high quality of living.
In addition to the wealth of visa options (more on this below), the commitment of the government and the people to welcome incoming global residents continues to draw more people into the country.
The religious tolerance of the UAE is generally also more relaxed than its Arab counterparts, and there are many temples, mosques, gurudwaras and churches across the country. In fact, there is an official Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence in charge of regulating tolerance.
2. Quality education system
The world-class education system, with international, public and private schools and top-rated universities, makes the country ideal for students of all ages. As part of its Advanced Visa System, over 10 new visas and permits have been announced, one of them being the Entry permit for study and training, to facilitate the entry of more expat students into the country.
The permit can be obtained by students enrolled in studies, training courses or internships in the UAE. Applicants must have a letter of admission from the concerned university or institution, clarifying the study or training program details. The sponsor can be licensed educational institutions, government or private bodies.
3. Strong post-COVID-19 comeback
The UAE is one of the foremost countries that is successfully wading out of the devastating effects of the worldwide pandemic and is already in recovery mode and operating at almost pre-COVID levels. More relaxations have been announced, reducing the isolation period and social distancing rules, and removing the mask mandate in most public places.
The government's timely action in quickly strategizing to stem the COVID levels initially while the virus had just begun spreading through mass testing and free vaccine camps show the commitment of policymakers towards its people. Moreover, several policies and new rules have been implemented to lift the economy further and make settling in the UAE easier for incoming expats.
4. No tax, great economy
The UAE has one of the most stable and open economies worldwide and was ranked 25th most competitive economy by the Global Competitiveness Report in 2019, the 5th largest in the Middle East.
Despite maintaining such a stellar record for years, the taxation policy is perhaps one of the most alluring parts of the country that attracts expats. The Emirates is tax-free for all residents, including expats. Except for very minimal VAT on goods and services, excise tax for certain goods and corporate taxes on companies and banks, the UAE is entirely free of tax.
5. Gaining residency has never been easier
Following the pandemic, the government has realised the importance of opening up the country to business professionals and welcoming more investment opportunities. To put this into effect, visa schemes have been put in place with the intention of easing the process of gaining residence in the country:
Golden Visa: Scientists, skilled workers, exceptional talents, real estate investors, entrepreneurs, students, humanitarian pioneers, doctors and nurses are now eligible for the Golden Visa, with over 10 years of validity. Golden Visa holders can also sponsor their family members and stay abroad as long as they want without losing their Golden Visa membership.
Green Visa: The latest residency visa scheme of the UAE is the Green Visa scheme, with a validity of 5 years and a flexible grace period time upto 6 months. Skilled employees, freelancers and investors can apply for the Green Visa.
6. More job opportunities, government assistance and incentives
Finding work, setting up businesses and investing in the UAE is relatively easier than in other countries. From multinational corporate companies to small-medium businesses, there is always scope for finding jobs for people from all educational backgrounds.
If you are looking to invest in the Emirates, the government provides the following incentives for interested investors:
- Up to 100% foreign ownership in free zones
- 100% foreign ownership in 122 economic activities across 13 sectors
- 100% profit repatriation
- Competitive financing costs, high levels of liquidity and a strong banking system
- No foreign exchange controls
- Strong appreciation and fully convertible currency
- Low inflation
- Low customs tariffs (between 0 and 5 per cent for almost all goods).