Why foreigners choose Abu Dhabi to live and work


In recent years, Abu Dhabi has attracted more and more attention from the international community, both in terms of tourism and business. Due to the relatively small local population, the UAE economy is largely dependent on skilled foreign specialists who come to work in Abu Dhabi and its surrounding Emirates. Employment opportunities for expats in the hospitality and service industries (commerce, restaurants, hotels, transportation, media, finance, insurance, real estate, business services, public, social and personal services, entertainment, etc.) are abundant here. Thus, an overwhelming number of expats work in many important economic sectors of the emirate. In this article, we have decided to describe the main points that attract expats to move to Abu Dhabi, both individually and as a family to work and live here.

Why is Abu Dhabi the best place for expats?

More and more people are looking for a comfortable life and better employment opportunities. When considering Abu Dhabi as a place for permanent residence, the decisive factors such as a stable economy, high level of security, increased wages, lack of income tax and the weather can all be highlighted. Below we look at the top 10 reasons why Abu Dhabi is so popular with foreigners.

Prosperous Economy

Abu Dhabi’s economic situation is determined by the fact that the emirate is the administrative, financial and transport center of a large oil and gas producing region with a developed service sector and a significant public sector within the economy. In particular, the first-class investment environment and its integrated logistics infrastructure are worth mentioning. Thus, since 2020, the UAE’s 50-person Economic Plan, which is in line with the UAE’s goals for the next 100 years to 2071, has been in effect. The overall plan includes stimulating the national economy, increasing GDP, empowering the local business climate, strengthening the position of UAE companies and giving them access to all markets of the world. The Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, which was announced back in 2007, is based on innovation, with a focus on areas such as the private sector, a knowledge-based economy, transparent regulation, education, values and culture, and enabling innovative technologies.

As a result, many international companies choose to open their offices and headquarters here, which opens up employment opportunities for both locals and foreign specialists.

Job Opportunities

As mentioned earlier, with a relatively small local population, Abu Dhabi relies heavily on international specialists to build and develop its economy. Energy, construction and real estate remain the leading sectors, but the emirate’s technology sector is also growing.

As many state and international companies actively set up offices and subsidiaries here, there is a growing need to attract international talent in many fields of work.

The government is keen to attract and retain skilled workers from around the world, as evidenced by the January 2021 amendments to the UAE Citizenship Law. Outstanding minds and talents from around the world will then be able to apply for UAE citizenship for themselves and their loved ones.

NB! Since the beginning of 2022, the UAE has changed the work schedule itself, and now the workweek is 4.5 days from 7.30am to 3.30pm, and the weekend begins from noon on Friday to Sunday. This ruling applies to all federal government agencies, although the private sector is free to regulate its own work schedule.

Salary and Taxes in Abu Dhabi

Most jobs in the capital offer reasonable and fair wages, and some companies in Abu Dhabi can offer their employees excellent benefits and packages (health insurance, transportation or housing costs, annual flight ticket home, etc.) that will meet the basic needs of all employees.

There are no income taxes for individuals in the UAE. The tax is paid by the company in which the foreigner works. In addition, the country has signed double taxation agreements (DTAs) with more than 110 countries, thus avoiding double taxation. About 85% of people living in the Emirates are expats, and these agreements make their lives much easier. However, if there is no DTA between the UAE and the expat’s country, the company will have to pay the tax in the Emirates, while the expat has to pay taxes in the country of origin.

Language and Religion

Abu Dhabi is renowned for the diversity of its international workforce. Therefore, English is widely spoken here. This means you will not feel uncomfortable when communicating in the workplace or in an informal setting. But it is worth noting that despite this, all legal documents must be translated into Arabic, including university diplomas or marriage certificates, before submitting them to official state bodies. They must also be checked by the expat’s Embassy and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The official religion of the UAE is Islam. However, Abu Dhabi is very tolerant of  other faiths. The influence of Islam still prevails in the social and professional context of every day life. This is why non-Muslim immigrants should show special sensitivity when they live and do business in Abu Dhabi or when visiting as a tourist. Factors such as behavior, appearance, compliance with general rules for foreign citizens during religious holidays and much more play an important role.


The climate of Abu Dhabi is a subtropical desert that gives warm winters and hot summers. Summer in Abu Dhabi can seem hot to foreigners as the average temperature in August is +41 °C and in the evening is +35 °C. However, air conditioners that even can be found in bus stops solve this issue during the hot months.

In other seasons the weather is warm and pleasant which attracts tourists from all over the world wishing to enjoy the sun. The coldest month is January with the average temperature around +23.5°C. Rain is also very rare in this part of the world, however if it does rain, it is only for very short periods of time.

Safety & Security

In 2021, the UAE became the 2nd safest country after Iceland thanks to the security index of the Global Finance magazine. Factors such as war, personal safety, the risk of natural disasters and even the risks of COVID-19 were taken into account for the survey.

The Government of the Emirate is developing initiatives in the field of safety and security so you can feel safe with confidence, both during the day and at night. Abu Dhabi is covered by the falcon eye system, which monitors roads, provides warnings and helps to get quick access to incidents of various kinds. In addition, there is a minimum amount of thefts and robberies or break-ins and attacks, a very low level of corruption.

Work-life balance in Abu Dhabi

Against the backdrop of the more dynamic city of Dubai, Abu Dhabi is a much quieter and more traditional emirate. In addition, it can be called a family-oriented emirate, since work and life here are focused on many cultural and family values. In the capital, more attention is paid to a good balance between work and personal life, integrated family-friendly communities are being created where it is as comfortable as possible to live both with large families and alone.

Entertainment & Shopping

There is no time for boredom in Abu Dhabi. The famous Ferrari World with the fastest roller coaster in the world is located here. Children might like Yas Waterworld, the largest Emirati water park with 40 rip-roaring rides, or if you aren’t into such activities, you might like to visit Yas Gateway Park. Those that like to practise sports can do so here, as well as just walking around. You can also find children’s playgrounds in the park. In order to relax you can go to one of the endless Abu Dhabi beaches, the most popular ones are Corniche, Saadiyat and Yas Beaches.

The capital of the Emirates also boasts some great museums. One of the most well-known in the city is the Louvre Abu Dhabi where you can find the “Self-Portrait” of Vincent Van Gogh and “Children Wrestling” by Paul Gauguin. Al-Ain National Museum, the eldest museum in the UAE, is also worth visiting.

Abu Dhabi has a great number of shopping centers where you can find everything you need and more. Yas Mall on Yas Island is the biggest mall in Abu Dhabi where you can find not only boutiques and restaurants but also entertainment experiences such as VOX Cinemas, Lego: Pop-in and Play, KidZania Abu Dhabi and others. Among other popular malls set within the capital of Abu Dhabi are Marina Mall and Abu Dhabi Mall.


Abu Dhabi has 2 airports that provide flights to both regional destinations and many international ones (South Asia, Europe and Africa). So, if you like to travel, you can easily go anywhere in the world with minimum airport fuss. For example, a flight to Greece, Turkey, or India will take just 4 hours. If you want to visit Dubai, the time by bus can take about 2.5 hours, although if you go by private car you can get there in no more than 1.5 hours. It is worth noting that in the future the UAE plans to launch a new Hyperloop One transport system which will connect Abu Dhabi and Dubai and allow passengers to travel from one emirate to another in just 12 minutes.

Food Experience

In addition to traditional Emirati cuisine, you will find that you can discover amazing international cuisine, including Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, Mediterranean, Filipino, etc. You can either visit a restaurant or cafe in person or order home delivery.

Food festivals are often held in the UAE, where you can taste the most delicious dishes from world-class chefs without the need to visit elite restaurants. At the end of religious holidays, for example, Ramadan, you can enjoy traditional dishes and Arabic sweets, which are popular among locals and tourists.

On the other hand, if you like to experiment and cook on your own, then Abu Dhabi offers organic farmers’ markets with the freshest farm products around the city.

How Can We Help You?

We at Metropolitan Capital Real Estate are ready to assist you in moving to the emirate, searching for your perfect property, whether you are buying or renting real estate (commercial or residential), as well as preparing all the necessary documents for this. You can expect expert legal advice from our lawyers, including help in opening a company and bank accounts in Abu Dhabi, questions regarding tax residency and support in setting up a business in the UAE.

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