The United Arab Emirates (UAE), with its cosmopolitan cities, generous salary packages and favourable taxation, has fast become one of the most popular destinations in the world for expats looking to relocate and make the most of their earning potential. With only a small population of local talent to choose from, the Emirates have a policy of welcoming qualified expats; and with 80% of the total population now from foreign countries, it is clear that the attraction of moving to the UAE shows no signs of slowing.
According to the annual HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2014, the UAE featured as 15th most popular country in the world, as rated by those who have made the big move. The survey also rated the UAE as 16th best in the world for raising children, a concern affecting many expats who might be considering relocation.
On closer inspection of the breakdown, it becomes apparent that the UAE offers a range of benefits for those with children. It rates number two in the world for quality of childcare, 12th for quality of education; and it comfortably rests in the top 20 globally in terms of quality of life, healthcare and enrichment opportunities for children, such as socialising with a wide circle of friends.
Education in the UAE
Of course, a top priority for those moving to UAE with children is the quality and accessibility of education in their host country. Expat children are not permitted to attend local schools in the UAE, but there is a range of excellent international schools to choose from – the majority follow the British or American curriculum or the International Baccalaureate. However, thanks to the multicultural nature of the UAE, you will also find German, French, Japanese and Indian schools too.
The downside of education in the UAE is that places in schools can be limited – start the application process as soon as possible to save disappointment. Additionally, costs can be high, with fees ranging from 50,000-90,000AED (£8,700 -£15,700) per year, plus extra charges for deposits, applications and admissions. Although many expats enjoy a healthy salary in the Emirates, these fees can lead many expats to turn towards home schooling – you will find ample support groups and parent networks in place to help you connect.
Entertainment in the UAE
Dubai is one of the most popular cities for expats in the UAE and it caters well to families in terms of entertainment. Expats in Dubai are encouraged to take a look at The Entertainer website, which has an abundance of discount offers for eating out and family leisure activities.
Many hotels put on family lunch and brunch specials with entertainment in place for children, some with private pools. Landscaped, green parks are plentiful and ideal for games and picnics once the heat of the midday sun has passed – although be aware that some may be strictly for women and children only, or may have unusual opening times. Some, such as Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Khalifa Park, have additional entertainment like funfair rides and open-air cinemas.
Unfortunately, the hot summer months can take away some of the fun of the Great Outdoors – temperatures can become unbearable for a trip to the beach or the park. Happily, though, the cool of the many air-conditioned shopping malls provide plenty of opportunities for indoor entertainment.
If you are considering moving to Dubai or the other Emirates, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you.
Information correct at time of publication.