Moving To Dubai From UK – 101 Insider Tips You Need To Know

Moving to the Middle East can be nerve-wracking, especially if the culture you will be adopting is very different to the one you're used to. Our office in Dubai is staffed entirely by expats from various locations around the globe, so we're well aware of how difficult it can be to settle it and make it feel like home.

That’s why our team have put together 101 Tips For Living in the UAE just for you, so you can be ahead of the game before you even arrive. And best of all, it’s totally free!

Below you can see a selection of the 101 tips from our guide, which covers topics from renting property, transport, utilities and even social etiquette to ensure you settle in as quickly as possible. If you’d like the full .pdf version, you’ll be able to download it at the bottom of this post. We’re confident you’ll find these tried and tested tips helpful in your new life in the UAE.

Rentals and Social Etiquette

Firstly, we look at a few things you’ll need to contend with when you arrive in country and start to settle in. Once you’ve secured your employment, finding a place to stay will be at the top of your list. Rentals aren’t as simple as finding somewhere as soon as you arrive. Then there’s the etiquette when socialising – it’s important to be aware of these to avoid making a faux pas, though people are usually much more forgiving of newly arrived expats who are still figuring things out.

Tip 3. You are not allowed to rent an apartment or house on a long-term basis without a valid residence visa and bank account to issue cheques. Given that you can open a bank account with a letter from your employer confirming your visa is being processed, if your visa application is declined you will lose any money paid so far to the property owner, so make sure you have everything required for your visa and it is up to code before proceeding. If in doubt, wait until your visa is confirmed before entering into a property transaction.

Tip 13. Alcohol laws vary across the different Emirates. The legal age for drinking alcohol is 18 in Abu Dhabi (although a Ministry of Tourism by-law allows hotels to serve alcohol only to those over 21), and 21 in Dubai and the Northern Emirates (except Sharjah, where drinking alcohol is illegal)

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Tip 25. The UAE has an extremely laid back approach towards organisation. For many this will be very hard to adjust to. For example, deadlines at school are often just sprung upon parents. Public holidays are announced sometimes only a week before (leaving little time to plan breaks away properly). The response to many situations is “Inshallah” which loosely means ‘God willing’ or “In God’s time’. This is likely to be the first Arabic word you learn!

Chris from our Dubai Office

Tip 27. It is common to always use your right hand to carry out tasks as the left hand is considered unclean. This is particularly the case when greeting with a gentle hand shake, or is necessary when taking an item from another person, or opening doors.

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Getting Around

Once you’ve arrived, how do you get around? Due to the the intense heat year round, most people opt for air conditioned taxis or public transport. These are all very clean, regular and reliable! If you’d prefer to have your own transport, it’s often easy to find a good deal due to expats leaving the UAE and wishing to make a quick sale on their vehicle.

Tip 65. Each Metro train is driverless and has a Gold section (for Gold ticket holders) as well as a section dedicated to women and children only. Prices are low by Western standards and the extra to travel in Gold class is highly recommended, especially during peak times after a hot, sweaty day! Fines are imposed on passengers who are travelling on wrong class of cabin.

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Tip 66. Passengers are permitted to carry 2 items of luggage on a Metro train (one large suitcase and one piece of hand baggage). Eating, chewing and drinking are not allowed.

Pribi from our Dubai Office

Tip 70. Driving occurs on the right-hand side in the UAE, therefore you should give way to your left. For many countries, you can simply swap your existing license for a UAE equivalent once you receive your residence visa.


Another compulsory part of your new life will be setting up your utilities, including phone and internet access. This is especially important to those who want to stay in close contact to those back home. Our guide offers plenty of good deals to look out for and how to avoid falling into the trap of spending more than necessary.

Tip 95. Getting a new mobile number in Dubai is easy. You can set up a new pre-paid number with a visitor’s visa which can last up to 60 days until you have your residency visa finalised. You can then set up a contract if you prefer. There are 2 mobile service providers in the UAE, Etisalat and Du.

Tip 100. If you don’t already have a router for your home internet connection, it’s advisable to check out an electronics store to buy your own as this usually works out cheaper than buying one directly from the ISP.

If you found these tips useful, you can download the full .pdf version including all 101 tips below for free! It also includes useful contacts and numbers for when you arrive. If you’d like to hear more from us in terms of useful and interesting expat information, tick the box to join our monthly round-up mailing list. We hope you enjoy the guide!

Where shall we deliver your instant download link?

If you're moving to Dubai from the UK, you may need your documents legalising for your residence visa. Vital Consular can help, so if you need us, we're here to assist. We’ve got knowledge of the attestation process for most countries, so our experience colleagues across the globe can answer all of your queries. If you have an enquiry, you can give our team of specialists a call on +44 (0) 330 088 1142, send us a message via WhatsApp on mobile, use our live chat system, or e-mail us at

Melanie Clarke
Melanie Clarke

Melanie is a Digital Marketer and TEFL Specialist at Vital Consular. Before taking up a Marketing role, she spent 3 years building up a rich knowledge of global legalisation processes on the operations team. When she's not working, Melanie enjoys attending music events and pursuing many creative interests including screen printing and merchandise design.

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