Moving to Dubai

Starting a new life abroad is a dream scenario that poses a wealth opportunity and endless possibilities. For many, the destination of choice for that restart is the beautiful country of Dubai.

Dubai is one of the most popular cities in the United Arab Emirates. So much so that Dubai has one of the largest percentages of expats in the entire world.

In fact, an incredible 80% of Dubai’s population is comprised of expats, which is great news for Brits looking to relocate.

However, moving to Dubai is no small feat. The application process can be a laborious task, while there are numerous cultural differences to keep in mind as well.

To keep the culture shock to a minimum, we’ve created this guide to help make your move to the “City of Gold” a truly priceless experience.

Dubai Visas

Once you’ve made up your mind and your heart is set on moving to Dubai, the next step is identifying the relevant visa to apply for.

As a rule of thumb, there are four primary visas that apply for expats looking to relocate to Dubai. These are:

Dubai Employment Visa

Arranged by your employer, this visa allows you to enter the country for work purposes once the appropriate work permit has been issued.

Dubai Dependant Visa

Designed for those whose partners or parents are already residing in Dubai, this visa permits entry to spouses and offspring.

- Dubai Student Visa

For those looking to enrol in Dubai university, a student visa is required to allow you to legally study in Dubai.

Dubai Investor Visa

As the name suggests, this visa is exclusively for expats looking to invest in companies based within the United Arab Emirates.


In order to complete the application process, there is also an extensive amount of paperwork and admin required, including the provision of passport, educational documentation and subsequent attestation of certification.

In addition to the above, the visa process also requires a compulsory health check. Once this has been completed, you will be issued with an Emirates ID Card which confirms your eligibility to work and remain in the UAE.

Money in Dubai

The designated currency of Dubai is the AED, which stands for Arab Emirates Dirham. This is also commonly abbreviated to Dhs or DH. 

Much like British currency, AED banks notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50; however, unlike British currency, they also extend to 100, 200, 500 and 1000.

As of writing, £1 sterling is the equivalent of approximately 4.75 United Arab Emirates Dirham, meaning a single AED equates to roughly 21p.

Good to Know

While the population does have a large contingent of foreign immigrants, it’s important to remember that Islam is still the national religion and the codes and conventions of that religion are rigidly enforced.

As such, there are notable restrictions on various aspects of daily life that are deemed perfectly acceptable in the UK. A notable example of this is clothing and what is deemed as acceptable clothing in the UK may not be viewed as the same in Dubai.

While the dress code in Dubai is quite liberal in comparison to other UAE destinations, outlandish attire may land you in trouble. These restrictions are particularly evident when it comes to female clothing, with significant exposed skin a risky fashion choice.

Alcohol in Dubai 

Drinking laws are considerably different in the UAE, with stringent alcohol restrictions in place. While the drinking age is 21, you can only drink in approved venues which hold a relevant alcohol license (typically hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs).

For tourists, it’s an offence to buy alcohol from an off-license; however, a 30-day tourist pass can be obtained by completing a form and signing a declaration that states you will follow UAE alcohol rules and regulation.

For residents, in order to purchase alcohol, you must hold a UAE alcohol license. Alcohol licenses are available to non-Muslim UAE residents of 21+ and allow the cardholder to buy, consume and store alcohol at home.

Alcohol licenses can be obtained online or in-person at select alcohol retailers across Dubai. These cost AED 270 (roughly £57) and take approximately three weeks to process after application. The license itself is valid for a year and needs to be renewed annually for continued use.

Crucially, it’s illegal to drink and/or be under the influence of alcohol in a public place and British nationals have been arrested and charged in the past for such a misdemeanour. That includes the beach too.

Driving in Dubai

While Dubai does have its own metro connecting most parts of the city – which will be music to the ears of many relocating Londoners – driving in Dubai will be a goal on the list of many would-be expats.

Luckily, for those already in possession of an existing UK driving license, driving in Dubai is relatively easy to arrange. UK drivers are able to convert their UK driving licenses to a UAE driving license.

To do so, all you’ll need to do is visit Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authorities. Once there, you’ll be asked to submit a series of documents (including original license, Emirates ID, etc.) and pay a set fee to complete the transfer.

Once mobile, Dubai residents will also find that fuel costs are considerably cheaper than they are domestically in the UK and it’s not unusual for a litre of petrol to cost around 40p in UK money.

Transferring Money to Dubai

During the moving process, you are probably going to need to send money to Dubai to pay for goods and services; including living necessities such as accommodation, various license fees, etc.

At Universal Partners FX, we can help you to transfer money to Dubai quickly, easily and hassle-free. Best of all, our swift online process includes no hidden fees or nasty surprises along the way.

If you’re looking to send money to Dubai, all you need to do is follow our simple three-step process:

  1. Register for free
  2. Secure your exchange rate
  3. We make your payment

Our services are available 24/7 and regulated by the FCA. We’re even backed by a 5-star rating from independent review site Feefo, giving you further peace of mind from those in the know.

For more information on how to send money to Dubai quickly, safely and securely, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 020 7190 9559 top speak with one of our experts or get in touch online by clicking the button below.

Contact Us >