Meet the expats who fled the pandemic for a new life in the United Arab Emirates


The past two years have changed the lives of millions of people.

From job losses to the pressure of foreclosure, the pandemic has led or even forced many people to reassess, be bold and plan for a new life. And, for some, it was new life in the Emirates.

After moving to Dubai in June, Irish resident Paul McCoy said he had not looked back.

“I would say I’m really a risk taker. In the summer, I took the risk of moving here without work and it paid off, ”he said.

I got a job a few months after I arrived, finished my trial period and just four weeks ago I finally got my Emirates visa and identity card.

Paul McCoy, Irish resident

“I got a job a few months after I arrived, finished my trial period and just four weeks ago I finally got my Emirates visa and identity card.

“I think that finally having these documents in hand makes me feel good and, even if the original plan was to stay a year, I would say that I would be here at least another two years. “

Working as a director of marketing and business development for a small financial firm, the 22-year-old recently moved from his temporary furnished apartment in Dubai Sports City to a large shared apartment in Dubai Marina.

“It was definitely the right decision to come here during the pandemic,” he said.

“When I phone home and talk to my friends, they pretty much do the same thing they did before I left because the Covid-19 restrictions are still tight there.

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“The only little difficulty I have had is trying to open a bank account. I sent my application four weeks ago and it still hasn’t been processed.

Expats who moved to the UAE during the pandemic said it took a lot of courage, but long-term planning has also helped.

It is recommended that you apply and get a job before you land in the country, but for those who move without a job, the key is to be proactive.

McCoy’s advice is to get involved in the community, network when possible and join online with all of the Facebook community groups, as jobs are often guaranteed by word of mouth.

Single mom takes big step towards a better life

Moving to Dubai has been a long-standing goal for British Pakistani lawyer Tuyyubah Amjid, 39.

She made the switch in September when she moved from Birmingham, UK, to the emirate with her eight-year-old son, Isa.

“The pandemic has been a period of reflection. I was working remotely and my son was home schooled and kept thinking that there had to be more to life than that, ”she said.

“He can learn from anywhere as long as it’s a British curriculum school and it’s always dark and cold.

“There was nothing that was really holding us back, now we live in a nice, sunny place all the time. “

However, the move was not without complications.

“Because I came here for a remote work visa, it was quite difficult the first few weeks,” Ms. Amjid said.

“If you are sponsored by an employer, the visa process is much easier and they help you with housing allowance, your children’s education and health care.

“But I had to do everything myself, which was difficult.”

One of the main issues she had was with banks recognizing her status.

She said some of them had not heard of a remote work visa and refused to let her open an account without a salary certificate.

As a result, they spent a lot of money staying in hotels as she was not able to rent a long term apartment without a checkbook.

However, these were small youthful issues, as Ms Amjid and her son were able to move into their new home in Dubai Creek soon after.

Human resources manager Mani Talan Dhama moved to Dubai in June from Northampton, UK to reunite with her husband who had moved to the emirate for work last year.

It was the United Arab Emirates’ handling of the pandemic that led her to lift the sticks, along with her 11-year-old daughter.

“My husband kept telling me how good the handling of the pandemic was in Dubai, especially compared to the UK where it was terrible,” said the 38-year-old.

“It’s amazing to be honest. There is so much to do and so many places to go and there is so much diversity.

Ms Dhama said she feared her time in the sun would be cut short, however.

“I need to find work, otherwise we’ll probably have to come back at the end of the school year,” she said.

“I was working remotely for a bank in the UK, but they didn’t let me do this for over three months and that time is up.”

One of her biggest frustrations is with recruiters who she says broke their promises.

“I have met so many recruiters who were unreliable,” she said.

“They contact me and tell me that I have been shortlisted for a position, but when I look on LinkedIn I can see that hundreds, and sometimes thousands, have already applied and nothing is happening.

“A lot of the recruiters I’ve met just haven’t been professional. “

Alan Richards left Nottingham, UK over the summer to take on the role of IT Director at a school in Dubai.

He fell in love with the city when he visited his wife five years ago, telling her he would jump at the chance to work in Dubai, should the opportunity arise.

That dream came true in August and Mr Richards, 53, said he has enjoyed his time in the sun ever since.

The final piece of the puzzle will fall into place when he is joined by his wife in the New Year.

“We have a house in Damac Hills 2 (near Al Qudra Road) because we come here to live, not as tourists,” he said.

“It’s obviously a big move, but so far it’s everything I expected and more.”

Checklist for moving to the UAE

Visas and work permits

If you are moving to UAE with a job, your employer will process your visa and work permit allowing you to legally enter the country.

If you don’t have a job and plan to look for work once you arrive, you may need to apply for a visit visa, depending on your passport.

Tourist visas for the United Arab Emirates can be issued for 30 days or 90 days for single or multiple entries. Tourist visas can be extended twice by 30 days, without the need to leave the country.

Find a place to live

For many who plan to stay in Dubai for the foreseeable future, renting an apartment or villa for the long term is a good option.

To prepare a rental agreement, you will need:

  • valid passport copy
  • copy of residence visa
  • Emirates Identity Copy
  • checkbook and valid bank account

To secure a property, residents will need to post a deposit check and agency fee, each typically representing five percent of the annual rent.

For tenants who wish to explore the area before committing to a long-term rental, they can rent a serviced apartment on a short-term basis.

To rent, newcomers only need a passport. This is useful for those who are still waiting for their residency visa to be processed, which can take several weeks.

Health insurance for expatriate residents

In Dubai, employers are required to provide health insurance coverage to their employees. Sponsors are required to obtain insurance coverage for their resident dependents.

The extent of coverage for employees and their dependents is determined by things like salary and designation.

If you do not have an employer or sponsor, you must take out travel insurance, which covers health, before you arrive in the country.

Update: December 12, 2021, 5:22 a.m.

About Gene Schafer

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