Expats’ Life in UAE: Great Quality at a High Cost


The international network for expatriates, InterNations.org has conducted a comprehensive survey about expats’ life in UAE. You don’t need to be a member to get the insight, but if you would like to join, register online here absolutely free of charge.

In the United Arab Emirates, 72% of expatriates enjoy the general friendliness of the people. A bit more (73%) stress the friendliness of the local population towards foreign residents, and 30% even describe them as being very friendly. However, making local friends is considered easy by only 38% of respondents in the UAE, while almost seven-tenths (69%) agree that making new friends in general is straightforward. This may well be due to the simple fact that only 13% of the population are UAE citizens and the majority of the people are fellow expats, according to the World Population Review.

Almost three in five expatriates in the UAE agree that it is easy to settle down, get used to, and feel at home in the local culture (59%, 58%, and 57%, respectively). Thus, the UAE lands a solid 30th out of 64 countries in the Feeling Welcome subcategory of the Ease of Settling In Index.

In terms of language, the country ranks 5th out of 64. This high position is mainly due to 73% of expats overall agreeing that it is not difficult to live there without speaking the local language. More than half (52%) don’t find learning the UAE’s local language easy, though.

Working Pays Off

In the UAE, three-fifths of all working expats are generally satisfied with their job, and 62% find their career prospects appealing. Working hours and the work-life balance are each rated positively by 57% of the respondents, which is somewhat below the global average of 62% and 61%, respectively. This seems hardly surprising with an average work week of 45.6 hours.

In the Job Security subcategory of the Working Abroad Index, the UAE ranks 15th out of all 64 countries. While less than half the survey participants in the UAE (49%) rate their job security favorably, nine-tenths consider the economy’s condition overall positive (vs. 65% globally), with more than half (52%) evaluating it as very good.

Five out of nine expats in the UAE (56%) are happy with their personal financial situation, but 42% find living there expensive. The affordability of housing in particular is considered problematic by 60% of respondents – worldwide, only 42% of the expatriates criticize this factor in their respective host country.


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