Welcome to the United Arab Emirates
The UAE (United Arab Emirates) is made up of seven states; Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al Quwain. Each state has its own ruling monarch known as a Sheikhdom and they comprise of the Federal Supreme Council. The major one everyone knows is Dubai and the lesser one the capital Abu Dhabi. The UAE has oil reserves which are the seventh largest in the world with gas reserves that are the seventeenth largest. This was the foundation for the UAE to become the country it is today.
Religion and legal system:
The country is based on Islam, predominately Sunni Muslim and has adapted a western approach to foreigners coming to the country however, this still means that if you break the law its subject to being in the Courts under Sharia Law. The federal courts are based on mainly three branches civil, criminal and Sharia Law.
The UAE is surrounded by ever changing deserts, the sea’s border the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf. The country borders Oman to the east and the Saudi Arabia in the south.
Dubai is the “Las Vegas of the Middle East” it’s the Bold and the Beautiful and a large metropolis with major hotels, retailers from all around the globe, restaurants globally renowned and the highest buildings in the world. It is one of the biggest aviation hubs in the Middle East with major airlines flying worldwide.
Abu Dhabi is the quieter capital, it is very much into looking after the environment and its resources. (The ruling family are the Al Nahyans) More of a haven for families and people who require a calmer pace of life than the hustle and bustle of its sister in Dubai.
If you wish to travel to the UAE for vacation, certain countries can gain a tourist visa valid for 30 days. Other nationalities have to be apply for visas which do take some time. These are also subject to family members coming. You have to earn a certain amount before they can come and see you.
Visas for working:
Prior to coming to the UAE you will be subjected to certain security checks and medicals.
Medicals and blood test screening
It is compulsory for all new employees to have a HIV/AIDS and TB blood count as well as other major medical checks. Once this has been completed and approved you will then be able to apply for your Emirates ID card and your passport will be sent to have your residency visa taken to the Authorities. If you do not pass this you will be deported immediately.
Health Insurance and Hospitals
The hospitals are now becoming worldwide businesses. There are major institutions to go to American Hospital/ Cleveland Clinic/Imperial College of Diabetes. Most companies give its employees a health card with a small charge that you might have to pay for administration fees. This is for minor and major illnesses that will be automatically looked at not for cosmetic surgeries.
Sickness from work:
Normally the companies will give you 30 days sickness per annum, 14 days at full pay and then after that half pay. If you are off for longer they will send you to a hospital to see whether you are able to carry on working if not you will be sent home.
Recently there have been laws brought into place that if you work in Abu Dhabi and have residency from there it is expected that you will live in the Emirate, the same applies to Dubai. However, there are ongoing disputes as to whether you can live in Dubai and work in Abu Dhabi this has been mainly subjected to people who work for the Government Organizations.
Most companies offer sharing/single or an allowance accommodation. If you are in company accommodation it is must with persons of the same sex and be approved by the Housing Departments. If you opt and take a Housing Allowance (please note accommodation is expensive and bills can be high and increase yearly) you must ensure it has been approved by the Local Authorities – this is to be protect you as a tenant otherwise you could end up losing your allowance if not approved.
Government organisations normally work from 07.00hrs till 14.00hrs, shops are normally open 0700 till midday and then reopen from 16.00hrs till late. Most malls are open 10.00am till late. Weekends are Thursday to Saturday.
Unions are not tolerated in the UAE, nor is blasphemy or making derogatory comments about the country and this applies to posting comments on social media sites.
Recommended dress code:
The UAE is very tolerant on expats and their clothing ideas. However, respect and discretion should be adhered to. At the beaches it is acceptable to wear swim-wear. In the Malls it is suggested that you cover your arms and knees otherwise you might be asked to leave so no short shorts!! During the month of Ramadan (the month of fasting) it is also asked that you also wear proper and not flimsy clothing.
Dubai and the UAE have lots to do whether you want to go jet skiing, Kayaking around the Mangroves, visiting malls and water parks, walking through the Miracle Gardens, Skydiving past the highest buildings, taking weekends away to Sir Baniyas Islands, there is so much to do and pass the time with lots of social activities to meet new people. There are many nightclubs and bars and if you get the book The Entertainer you can get vouchers for reduced rates (see links at the bottom of the page for a hyper-link).
At present there is no tax on salaries. Recently they have now deregulated the price of petroleum, it’s still cheap to fill up a car compared to Western standards. Cars are cheaper than most countries so you will see the elite cars flying around. Eating at hotels and restaurants do have a local tax and service tax. Alcohol in Dubai attracts about a 30% sales tax. Hotel Service and entertainment a 5% municipality tax on rooms, food etc. Restaurants often add a service charge plus a Municipality tax as well!
Where do I start!! Most parents have domestic workers to help them at home. Unfortunately, a lot of the children do not have rules and regulations. You will see a lot of children roaming around malls late and night with their parents and not in bed. The discipline is not one of the highlights of the UAE. However, parents expect their children to do well at school and will pay for extra tuition.
Banking, ATM’s, salaries and banking transfers:
ATM, Salaries, and Transfers: Most salaries are paid around the 26th of every month. This can change due to various holidays that take place, so could be before or after. The local currency is UAE Dirhams and other major currencies are accepted. There are many Western Unions and major banks universally recognized. Please note that getting into debt in the UAE is a major offense that can lead to a prison sentence e.g. writing a cheque and it bounces!
Expat’s links for the United Arab Emirates
Produced by Melanie Peyer
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