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The UAE — The Time is (Economically) Right

For US expats planning to move to the UAE, it’s a great time to do so.  The financial perks and high standard of living, combined with the recovery of an economy which is growing stronger, make the UAE a promising destination to start a new life.

As mentioned, there are financial benefits available to expats. The most notable —and probably the most attractive — is that there’s no personal income tax or VAT. However, US citizens may still have to file a tax return with their country.

Naturally, with more dirhams (the UAE unit of currency) in your pocket, you’ll want to set up a bank account. Once you’ve done that, you may wish to take out a personal loan from HSBC or other bank, perhaps to pay for your child’s tuition in an international school, for instance. Depending on your salary, some banks offer special conditions.

Banks in Dubai are normally open between 8 am and 3 pm every day except Friday. Due to Dubai’s large expat population, some banks allow expats who are banking with them to make one free international transfer per month. Check before you make a transfer, however, to avoid paying high fees unintentionally. Incidentally, use of post-dated checks is widespread in the UAE, especially for cars or annual rent, since electronic transfers are normally expensive.

If a UAE employer has hired you as part of a relocation package, often they’ll cover the cost of your visa, medical, health insurance and work permit too, and of any renewals required. This isn’t always the case, so you should check these arrangements with them first. Expenses you should set aside money for, however, include connecting to the electricity and water networks, your driving license and, if you wish to drink alcohol at home, an alcohol license.

If, on the other hand, you’ve not been hired but want to move to the UAE to find work, you’re probably wondering which professions are in demand. The oil and gas sector is set to do well, of course, as is the construction sector and also international, local, and regional banks.  In Dubai, the sales, engineering, finance and IT sectors have registered the most vacancies on job boards. Thanks to the efforts of governmental agencies, the hospitality and leisure sectors have withstood the tough economic times too, and realty is also experiencing a recovery.

When you do go, you’ll be landing in a country that has moved up three places to 24th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2012–2013. Higher oil prices have held up the budget surplus comfortably, as well as help lower public debt and increase the savings rate. The diversification of the UAE economy has also helped it to absorb the impact of any oil price fluctuations more easily.

So if you’re thinking of taking that one-way flight to the UAE, it’s a good time to board that plane. Not only can you enjoy healthy personal finance and a high standard of living, due to the nature of the UAE’s own economy: you can be part of an economy that is making a serious comeback.