Relocating to Dubai

Considering whether moving to Dubai is right for you? Dubai is a vibrant cosmopolitan city that combines traditional Arabian heritage with Western convenience. The University of Birmingham Dubai offers a world-class teaching and research environment, allowing you excel in your career while experiencing Dubai's dynamic surroundings.

Expats make up 91% of Dubai’s population, with British residents making up the largest proportion of the Western community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). From iconic skyscrapers to beautiful beaches, Dubai offers diverse experiences, international cuisine, and year-round sunshine. With advanced infrastructure and transportation, the city provides convenient access to global destinations. Dubai is renowned for its low-crime, cleanliness, and standard of living, making it a comfortable environment for individuals and families alike.

Join the University of Birmingham Dubai and discover a city where tradition meets innovation. 

Car driving over sand dunes
Adele Matthews

Adele Matthews

Student Experience and Engagement Officer

“I have quickly integrated into life in the UAE since moving in October 2022. The staff community at UoBD has played an integral role in helping me settle in Dubai, alongside the buddy system prior to arrival. From navigating the housing process to finding friends, everyone is willing to offer advice and guidance to make you feel at home.”

Living in Dubai

Moving to another country can be overwhelming, so we’ve pulled together key information to answer commonly asked questions when relocating to the UAE.

Home to over 200 nationalities, Dubai continues to emerge as a preferred destination to live and work.


When you first move you will be in temporary accommodation, such as in a hotel, serviced apartment, or short-term rental, until you receive your Emirates ID, which will allow you to sign a tenancy agreement for a rental property.  

Dubai offers a wide range of options to cater to different budgets, preferences, and lifestyles. Whether you're looking for an apartment, villa, or townhouse, Dubai has a diverse real estate market to explore. Researching different neighbourhoods will help you find one that aligns with your needs, considering your budget, lifestyle, preferred accommodation type, and commute time. For families, there are many family-friendly residential areas in Dubai with spacious accommodation in close proximity to schools. Online platforms such as Bayut, Property Finder, and Dubizzle are valuable resources to research the market, browse listings and contact real-estate agents. 

Arts and entertainment

Moving to Dubai means you’ll never be short of things to do. From dune bashing at sunset, kayaking in mangroves, yoga overlooking the palm, to weekend brunches and beach lounges, there’s something for everyone, all of the time.

There are many publications on the best things to do in Dubai, including What's On and Time out Dubai.

No matter what you’re in the mood for, there’s always something exciting to do in Dubai.


The UAE has a sub-tropical and arid desert climate, characterised by abundant sunshine and clear blue skies for much of the year. There are two main seasons, winter and summer, separated by transitional periods.

Mean temperatures:

  • Winter (December to March): 16.4°C to 24°C
  • First transitional period (April to May): 26°C to 33.5°C
  • Summer (June to September): 32°C to 37.2°C
  • Second transitional period (October to November): 24°C to 30°C

Rainfall in the UAE is sparse and inconsistent, averaging 140-200 mm per year, but mountainous areas may receive up to 350 mm/year. 

Culture and government

The UAE formed on 2nd December 1971, when six emirates formed a confederation, with Ras-Al-Khaimah becoming the seventh in 1972. Dubai has the largest population, but the largest emirate and capital of the UAE is Abu Dhabi.

UAE laws and customs are very different to the UK and there may be serious penalties for things that are commonplace in the UK (for example same sex relationships, sexual relationships outside of marriage, pregnancy or birth of a child outside of marriage). You are strongly advised to familiarise yourself with, and respect local laws and customs by visiting the GOV.UK websiteStonewall's Global Workplace Briefing also provides some guidance on LGBT matters in the UAE and you can read the University’s approach to Equality and Diversity in Dubai.

Islam is the official religion of the UAE. Expats are free to practice their own religions as per the UAE's policy of fostering tolerance, coexistence, and religious inclusivity.

Learn more about religion and culture in Dubai 


Dubai is recognised for its quality of schooling. 90% of the education system in Dubai is private, with one of the highest concentrations of international schools in the world, offering many different curriculums including American, British, and French. 

ECA's indicative values for education costs are average annual tuition fees from a range of suitable schools, taking the highest applicable fee when a school has a tiered fee system according to age or grade. The cost does not include additional education costs such as registration, enrolment, examination, uniform or transport fees.

Explore school fees in Dubai

Dubai is considered as one of the most family-friendly locations in the world.

Food and drink

Embracing flavours and ingredients from Asia and the Middle East, traditional Emirati cuisine showcases a delightful fusion of spices and culinary influences, including cinnamon, dried fruit, limes, nuts, saffron and turmeric.

Dubai is a foodie’s paradise, offering almost anything you can think of and some of the top restaurants in the world. From authentic street food to celebrity chef curated tasting menus, Dubai has it all.

There are plenty of grocery options in Dubai. Between the international supermarket chains and local independent stores, you’ll find everything you need to feel at home. Both Spinney's and Waitrose provide a familiar shopping experience for expats, stocking a wide range of imported groceries, including a dedicated area for pork products. Other popular supermarkets in Dubai include Choithrams - which also sells pork, Géant, Viva, LuLu Hypermarket, and Carrefour to name but a few.

The consumption of alcohol in the Dubai is no longer a criminal offence and the legal drinking age is 21 years old. However, alcohol can only be consumed privately or in licensed public places, such as most hotels and some restaurants. Alcoholic drinks for private consumption can be bought from the licensed trading stores African & Eastern (A&E) and MMI Dubai with an alcohol license, which can be obtained for free.

Discover the best restaurants, bars and nightlife


The UAE is in south-eastern region of the Arabian Peninsula. It is surrounded by the Persian Gulf to the north, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the south and west, and the Gulf of Oman to the east.

The city of Dubai itself is characterised by a flat coastal plain and is surrounded by vast expanses of rolling sand dunes and mountains in the east.


The official language of the UAE is Arabic, however English, Hindi and Urdu are widely spoken. Arabic and English are the official business languages, and both can be found on road signs and general signage throughout the country.


When it comes to furnishing your new home in Dubai, you'll find an abundance of options that cater to your every need. With a population of over 90% expats, Dubai is well accustomed to the needs of new arrivals. Conveniently, there are two IKEAs in Dubai alone another in Abu Dhabi, and most malls have plenty of homeware shops, including familiar international brands. Dubai has a service culture too, meaning you’ll be able to get most things delivered to your door, and fast! For those that are looking for something custom and aren’t afraid to haggle, Dragon Mart, the largest Chinese retail trading hub outside mainland China, has over 3,500 outlets selling everything you good possibly think of at wholesale prices. There are also online marketplaces and classifieds, where you can find great deals on both new and used furniture.

Dubai is renowned as a global shopping hub, with more than 40 malls! They play a central role in the city's culture, serving as popular family destinations, especially on weekends. Adjacent to the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, the Dubai Mall is the largest shopping mall in the world and over 1,200 stores, it hosts major fashion brands, and iconic attractions like the Dubai Fountain and Aquarium. For a traditional experience, you can explore the Gold Souk in Deira or the Souk Madinat in Jumeirah.

Find out more about shopping in Dubai


The Dubai International Airport (DXB), is one of the world’s busiest and largest airports, with more than 100 airlines flying to over 260 destinations worldwide. With DXB on your doorstep, you can reach two-thirds of the world in less than eight hours. 

Taxis are the most popular means of public transport in Dubai and are fairly priced, making them a great option to get around when you first arrive. The easiest way to book one is via Careem, where you can choose from a range of cars, with ‘Hala Taxi’ being the cheapest option. You can even book inter-city journeys between the Emirates. There’s also the Dubai Metro, Dubai Tram, water buses, bike rental and an extensive bus network. For further information, visit the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) website.

For most residents, driving a car is a must! The cost of taxis can quickly add up and you can hire a car relatively easy before committing to buying one. That said, if someone else in your household drives, if you choose to live closer to campus, or if you can lift share with someone, you might not value it as much. If you do wish to drive, you’ll need to convert your existing licence or attend classes depending on where you obtained it.

How to transfer your existing driving licence in the UAE

Relocation support

We provide a Concierge Service to support those relocating nationally or internationally.

We partner with Gerson Relocation and GMS, allowing you to access a personal service that covers the entire process of relocation, from planning to post-move support.

Some posts are eligible for financial relocation support from the University, this will be confirmed at offer stage.