Living in Dubai: A Real Estate and Lifestyle Guide to Dubai, UAE
Dubai—Pioneering City of Luxury
Everything You Wanted to Know About Living in Dubai
The UAE’s most populous city, Dubai, is one of seven Emirates that make up the country. Located on the Persian Gulf, bounded by Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, Dubai’s rich heritage and modern infrastructure frame the perfect meeting place between culture and innovation. Its golden coastline boasts pristine, calm waters, ideal for beachfront living and watersport lovers, while vivid desert sunsets and the world’s most spectacular skyline serve as a backdrop for unparalleled urban bliss. Expatriates come from all over the world to enjoy the city’s dynamic lifestyle, filled to the brim with record-breaking attractions, prime recreational experiences and prestigious nightlife. Year-long sunshine and blue skies grace the region, though Dubai’s array of temperature-controlled locales offer world-class indoor leisure options during warmer summer days in July and August.
What Are the Most Desirable Neighborhoods in Dubai?
The best of alfresco living can be found among neighborhoods such as Emirates Hills and Dubai Hills Estate, otherwise known as the green heart of Dubai. Surrounded by luscious parks and verdant walkways, these locations offer a diverse range of elite properties only moments away from championship golf courses and top-tier country clubs.
If you gravitate toward beachfront serenity, then you’ll find your ideal retreat-style haven in Palm Jumeirah’s luxury residences, Port de la Mer’s Mediterranean-inspired marina promenade or Jumeirah Bay’s exclusive gated island community. Each neighborhood is its own man-made marvel, spread separately across Dubai’s coastline to take on the distinct ambience of the different areas that make Dubai an exceptional destination. But that’s not all that the city’s landscape has to offer; miles of rolling dunes make the perfect canvas for palatial developments and fully serviced communities. You can find bespoke mansions, modern villas, and high-rise residences and more in District One, located within the neighborhood of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City. A multipurpose neighborhood, MBR City is home to the world’s largest man-made lagoon and premier amenities, such as the Meydan Racetrack and Grandstand, which hosts the renowned Dubai World Cup horse race.
Notable Restaurants and Cuisines in Dubai
A diverse playground for Michelin-star chefs, Dubai abounds in global gastronomic experiences. As a city whose demographic is largely made of expatriates, it stands to reason that there are copious fine dining restaurants that serve international specialities. Ronda Locatelli cooks up entrees that’ll transport you to Italy, while Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen offers noteworthy British fare. If you’re looking to discover traditional Emirati cuisine, Aseelah is the place to go. Your palate will be delighted to pair the simplicity of freshly caught fish or locally reared lamb with the complex blend of the region’s spices—cardamom, turmeric, and saffron to name a few. Dishes like thareed and harees are cultural staples, whereas the widely popular shawarma, manakish, and hummus are modern go-to’s. Top it all off with an Arabic coffee and you’ve tasted the flavors of Dubai.
What to Do and See in Dubai
There’s never a dull moment in Dubai. Every part of the city caters to its distinct atmosphere; for quintessential city living, shopping sprees, and high-rise buildings, Dubai Marina, DIFC, and Downtown Dubai are for you. If you lean towards a luxury beachfront lifestyle, Port La Mer, Palm Jumeirah, and JBR are neighborhoods overflowing with prime seaside nightlife and outdoor entertainment.
A global capital for high-end shopping, the city is home to the world’s most illustrious haute couture stores. Every major mall will have access to designer options. For urban luxury redefined, choose Downtown’s Dubai Mall. Containing an entire wing dedicated solely to fashion (Fashion Avenue) and situated beside the Burj Khalifa, shop your heart out before dining with a front-seat view to the world’s tallest building and the dancing Dubai Fountain. Across the bridge in Jumeirah is City Walk, a dynamic outdoor mall with a modern street-style flair, better suited to those who want to enjoy the skyline as they shop. A more cozy and relaxed setting can be found at Mall of the Emirates, which contains the Apple store and Harvey Nichols.
Made for individuals who take their morning golf at their doorstep, Emirates Hills’ iconic Montgomerie Golf Course will keep you vested until its finishing hole, which measures a staggering 656 yards in distance, while Jumeirah Golf Estates’ challenging Earth Course hosts the DP World Championships. Thrill seekers who prefer fast cars over clubs will find themselves at home living beside Dubai Autodrome, where you can race a Ferrari GT, feel the V8 power of a McLaren racing machine, or drive Formula One race cars—the F1 Jaguar 2000 or F1 Arrows 2002. Alternatively, avail of exclusive marina access or charter a yacht at Dubai Marina, encircled by high-rise architecture and bustling crowds, or at Port La Mer, a more intimate, island-style location.
Parks & Open Spaces
Safa Park is one of Dubai’s most historical landmarks. Built in 1984, this popular picnic spot is ideal for those looking for greenery in the Jumeirah area; with the Dubai Canal running alongside it, individuals can easily follow pathways from the park to the canal and stroll straight to the beach. A digitally integrated nature experience, Zabeel Park boasts a size of 45 football pitches with tech-based interactive exhibits. Family-oriented gated communities such as Arabian Ranches and Victory Heights contain some of the most picturesque parks, which serve as a meeting place between friendly neighbors and radiate suburban charm. For a private, enclosed space to let your canine friend run free outside, try Bark Park—a haven for Dubai dogs who are otherwise not allowed to be off-leash.
Can Foreigners and Non-Residents Purchase Property in Dubai?
Yes, the city has designated freehold zones wherein foreign expatriates and non-residents are allowed to buy property; Dubai’s most sought-after communities belong to freehold areas, where foreigners are allowed to purchase, sell, and lease homes.
Travelling to the UAE without residency requires an easily obtainable tourist visa; however, the government has created several initiatives to further simplify the entry process for property owners and part-time residents. If your property is worth over 5 million AED, you are eligible for a five-year visa. If it's 2 million AED (and you are over 55 years old, you can apply for a five-year pension visa. As of 2021, it is possible to self-sponsor a one-year visa for remote work in the UAE, even if your employer is overseas.
How Many People Live in Dubai?
As of 2021, Dubai is home to an estimated 9.9 million residents. A true melting pot of culture, 80 percent of the cosmopolitan city’s population is claimed by expatriates, who hail from all four corners of the world.
What Languages Are Spoken in Dubai?
Arabic may be the country’s official language, but English is most commonly spoken in Dubai due to its international business affiliations and expatriate residents.
What Is the Currency in Dubai?
The Emirati Dirham abbreviated as AED.