The Dark Side of Living in the UAE – Is it Worth it?



The UAE has attracted many tourists and expats from around the globe due to its grandiose architecture and lavish style of living. However, what has really attracted the expats has been the tremendous tax savings that expats save on their salaries from working in the UAE. That being said, there is another side to the UAE that has made many expats wonder whether life in the UAE is actually worth it?

Political and Religious Situation in the State

What potential expats have to understand who are considering relocating to the UAE is that they are entering into a culture that is thousands of years old. The principles and rules that are established have survived into modern times, which makes the transition more difficult for expats who are not willing to adapt to an entirely new culture. Some aspects that can make the transition quite difficult to the UAE are the political and religious situation that exists there. For example, the religious aspect can be complicated for Western women to adapt to who are no accustomed to being treated in a different way than men. This can be particularly problematic in the workplace.

In terms of politics, the UAE has a very dated manner in which they resolve issues, which can be frustrating to an individual that did not grow up in that culture. The political system and manner in which punishment is conduct can seem archaic and threatening to expats from foreign countries. For expats that are more receptive, these issues will tend to be less problematic; however, it is important to take these differences into account when deciding whether relocating to the UAE is a wise decision.

Lastly, the UAE like Qatar is is in a very unique position in the Arab world. The reason for this is that both countries are essentially a mixture of the various nationalities and tribes that exist within the Arab world. This creates a fascinating mixture of culture; however, it also has its problems as well relating to the varying severity of the culture’s differences from the multitude of expats that reside there.

The Intricate Legal System of the UAE

The legal system that exists in the UAE is quite different than countries in the West, because once again, it was founded on a culture that is quite different from countries in the West. Where this system becomes problematic for expats is when there is a cultural misunderstanding of what is acceptable and the expat gets punished quite harshly as a result. Additionally, there is the element of corruption that is also prevalent in the UAE. Expats can at times get into business deals or physical altercations that can be life threatening.

While this story is a bit extreme, there are many expats that truly feel that their lives in major international cities such as Dubai remain unaffected.

Why Moving Your Money Out of the UAE Could Be Beneficial

One important aspect of living and working in the UAE as an expat relates to when and how you should ideally move your money outside of the country. There are some bizarre laws related to family inheritance that make moving your money out of the country sooner rather than later a wise idea.

It is usually best to move your money out in increments rather than waiting until the end of your time there. Using foreign exchange companies (that operate in the UAE). that facilitate money transfers from Dubai can be a major asset to you. Additionally, should you desire to get money out of the country, it could also be useful to move money from Qatar due to Qatar’s close ties with many countries in the West, particularly the United States.

Concluding Remarks

Moving to the UAE can be a culturally stimulating and fiscally rewarding experience. That being said, it takes a certain type of expat to make the cultural transition work. Additionally, the expat that moves there should be aware that certain outlandish behaviors will not be permitted there. For women, it is also essential that there is careful consideration given as to whether the female expat will thrive there due to the great difference in local culture.

Taking these dark cultural aspects into account, the UAE still does offer a great deal of fiscal opportunity for the expat that wants to move there and get ahead financially for a new years and explore an entirely unique part of the world. Furthermore, this expat has to be willing to shed their preconceived notions and essentially, dive in in order to have the best possible experience. Lastly, once this expat has made their salary, they are going to have to be diligent about how they move their money in order to provide themselves an insurance policy should the economy drastically change. Due to the foregoing reasons, consider carefully, Is the UAE the right choice for you?


About Author

Kelly Lewis is the founder of Go! Girl Guides, the Women's Travel Fest and Damesly. She's an optimist, an adventurer, an author and works to help women travel the world.

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