What Funds You Should Bring When Moving to Dubai | expatwoman.com

What Funds You Should Bring When Moving to Dubai

Need to know how much cash to bring with you and how? Check out our guide to cash and money matters.

Posted on

26 December 2013

Last updated on 22 May 2017
What Funds You Should Bring When Moving to Dubai

Dubai is not a “back packer” kind of place where you can just rock up and get cheap accommodation and a part time job in a shop. You need to plan ahead seriously if you are considering moving here. Here we take a look at the ins and outs of moving here and this will give you an idea of what to be looking for from your company or how much money to get saved up in advance.

Residency Visa & Work Permit

To work in Dubai you have to have a residency visa sponsored by the company you will be working for, or your husband if you are married. You will also need a labour permit to be able to work. It is possible for you to come to Dubai on a visit visa but you will not be able to work during this time.

Some companies will process all the paperwork before you arrive in the country and you will pick up your residency visa at the airport on arrival, or they will arrange whilst you are in country on a visit visa and they can either do an “in-country” application or you will have to exit and re-entry again once your visa is ready.

Many people do come to Dubai on a visit visa to look for a job- this is not a long term solution and can be quite risky as some nationalities’ visit visas are not extendable so you would need to find a job pretty quickly. You should have enough money with you to live for at least 3 months as it can take up to that long to get a job- this seems to be the average time period.

Companies have to pay for your visa and work permit if you are working for them- if you leave the company before a set time though they may deduct your recruitment costs from your final salary. This period of time is usually one year but can be two.


Some companies provide accommodation for the period of your employment, some do not. Most reputable companies would provide 30 days temporary accom for you either in a hotel, serviced apartment or company owned apartment whilst you find somewhere to live. You cannot rent a flat or villa without a residency visa- so if your company is not quick with its processing you will have to stay in a hotel or serviced apartment.

The cost of this period of time may be covered by the company or not- you should have enough money to at least pay for 2 months temporary accommodation.

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Salaries are paid in arrears usually on the 30th of the month and normally into a bank account- although some will pay cash or cheque for the first salary if a bank account has not been set up. It is very rare to be able to set up a bank account without as residence visa- so you need to take this into account too. You will need enough money to get you through the first month before you get paid- some companies may agree to pay you an advance which is then taken out of your last paycheck. This is quite rare and happens in government or multinational companies. 

You will need enough money for accomodation, food, transport, phone for this month at a minimum.


You can drive a hire car on certain nationality driving licences before you get a residency visa. Once you get your visa you have to convert your licence to a UAE one to be able to drive a hire car. You can only buy a car once you have a residency visa. Some companies do provide a car or will give you a transport allowance. Taxis are relatively cheap but they do add up if you are using them for many journeys. You can also use the bus and the metro system- these are very cheap options.


Until you have a residency visa you are going to have to get a Pay As You Go Sim card or a Visitors pack from either Du or Etisalat- these are quite reasonable and will keep you going until you get a work phone or can convert to a post- paid number. You can also buy a pre paid data package which makes emails and social networking easier when you are looking for a job here.

Average Month Cost For One Adult In Dubai

  • Accommodation short term studio - 7, 000AED
  • Car Hire- 1,800 AED
  • Food & Drink- 3,000 AED
  • Phone- 500 AED
  • Sundries- 500 AED

Total= 12,800 AED

The above is based on a short let apartment in a good area and hiring a basic model car. You can maybe find hotels with cheaper rates, use taxis and the metro to save money. 

cash in dubai

Expenses Once You’ve Found A Place To Live

Once you get your residency and find somewhere to live you are going to have more up front expenses that you need to plan for…

  • DEWA (water and power)- deposit 1,000 AED for a flat - 2,000 AED for a villa
  • Agency Fees- 5- 10% of annual rent (if you went through an agent to find the property)
  • Deposit- 5% of annual rent

Rents are paid in advance and can vary- some landlords want 1 cheque for the whole year up front, some will accept 2, 4 and 12 (rarelly). If you are paying your rent yourself you will need to have the rent amount plus the other costs above too. You have to ensure to have the money in your account before each cheque is cashed as a check that bounces constitutes fraud in the UAE.

Other Things You Are Going To/ May Need Quickly

  • Salik Tag For Car- for use of toll roads
  • Driving Licence Conversion
  • Alcohol Licence
  • Government Health Card

How To Bring Funds

  • The UAE and Dubai have many banks and ATMs that you can withdraw money from if you want to leave money in a home country account.
  • There are loads of exchange places too- at the airport, in malls etc. so you can change most foreign currencies here. Dubai is relatively safe but it is not advisable to carry large sums of cash around- you may lose it!
  • You can pay in shops using cash, credit or debit cards and major international cards are accepted.
  • Travellers cheques aren't in common usage here and it is hard to find places to exchange them.
  • There are many Western Union counters here for transferring and receiving money which is also helpful.
  • The Dirham is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 3.65 AED per US$ so you won't lose any money in an exchange of US dollars. Other currencies do fluctuate depending on the market so pick your time to do an exchange.
  • The maximum amount of cash you can bring into or out through Dubai Airport is 100,000 AED but you should also check the country you are travelling from regulations. For example travellers to and from the EU must notify customs officials if they’re carrying €10,000 (Dh52,406) or more in cash.