How safe is the UAE for foreign women

With a foreign rate of 80% of the population, the United Arab Emirates is a popular destination for expats. In the following article we will go into more detail about what life is like in the UAE as a foreigner.

The UAE consists of 7 autonomous emirates that formed a federal constitutional monarchy in 1971.

In the country's brief history, the UAE has undergone a very rapid demographic change. In 2015 the total population was 3 million, of which 1.4 million were Emiratis and 7.9 million were foreigners.

Emigrants moving to the UAE encounter a modern country with advanced architecture, a desert landscape, a subtropical climate and world-famous shopping malls.

Most foreigners move to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but Sharjah also has a growing proportion of foreigners.

It should be noted that the UAE is traditionally Islamic and each emirate lives different degrees of Islamic religious conservatism. Foreigners should familiarize themselves with the laws and cultural customs in order to live and feel comfortable in this exciting country.


Official language: Arabic, however, English is widely spoken

Population: 9.3 million

Religion: Islam is the state religion

Form of government and state: Federal constitutional monarchy

Currency:UAE dirhams

Living and working in the UAE

Foreigners enjoy a high standard of living in the UAE, the most advanced Gulf region. Due to the large community of foreigners living in the UAE, newly arrived people often find it easy to get started in their new homeland.

Most foreigners settle in Dubai, a prime business destination due to the strong economy. A study on quality of life published by Mercer in 2016 placed Dubai 75th and Abu Dhabi 81st out of a total of 221 cities. This study examined the quality of life in different cities based on factors such as political, economic, environmental, personal safety, health, education, transportation and other public service factors.

The extreme heat, with temperatures around 30 ° C in winter and 50 ° C in summer, takes some getting used to for many emigrants. It is also important that foreigners living in the UAE be respectful of religious practices and traditions. These can have an impact on everyday life and require foreigners to dress accordingly. It is advisable not to eat or drink in public during Ramadan. As with all new experiences, it is recommended that you approach new realities and cultures with an open mind. So the new life in the UAE will bring many exciting experiences.

Education in the UAE

Like most popular expat destinations, the UAE has a good variety of public and private schools, all of which are of a high academic standard.

Children are required to attend school for nine years; six years in elementary school and three years in high school. After graduating from middle school, students can choose to attend high school. There are two different types of secondary schools in the UAE: Regular secondary schools teach academic subjects and lead to a degree similar to the German Abitur. After three years a university can be attended with this degree. Technical high schools are based on skills and enable students to graduate from technical school. In public schools, teaching is mainly in the local language. As a result, many parents choose to send their children to one of the many international schools, many of which are excellent in the UAE. These schools teach various national curricula as well as the "International Baccalaureate Program". In the best schools, competition for places is fierce and the number of students is limited. Since these schools are rather expensive, there can be considerable financial pressure on families who do not receive separate grants under their foreign employment contract.

It is important that families thoroughly research the various options available in schools for their children before deciding which school to choose. For more information, visit the UAE Department of Education website.

Cost of living

Overall, the cost of living in the UAE is high despite the favorable tax regulations. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among the most expensive cities in the Gulf region. The costs for accommodation, education and health care services are particularly high. A recent survey by HSBC found that 88% of foreigners find that the cost of raising their children in the UAE is higher than it is in their home country. 81% said moving to the UAE increased their childcare costs, while 91% said increased educational costs.

Here are some other cost examples *:

  • McDonalds menu: AED 25 (€ 6.40)
  • 1 liter of milk: AED 6 (€ 1.50)
  • 1 beer: AED 40 (€ 10.25)
  • Internet access: AED 312 per month (€ 79.00)
  • Studio Apartment: AED 6500 per month (€ 1,665.00)
  • Petrol: AED 1.70 per liter (€ 0.40)
  • Public transport (monthly ticket): AED 270 (€ 69.15)

Health care costs

The UAE healthcare system is a mixed system of public and private provision. The public system is available to Emiratis and is subject to a centralized management and financing model. There is also a large and growing private sector in major urban centers.

The public health system is organized on two levels:

Basic medical care is offered in primary care centers and varies according to the location and the number of the population that encounters the respective center. Other hospital services are offered by general as well as specialized hospitals. Emiratis have little confidence in public medical facilities due to a lack of local expertise and high cost of treatment. A national campaign aims to make public health services more efficient and better.

Private medical services are increasing in the UAE and are offered by private clinics and hospitals as well as so-called “medical cities”. The number of private hospitals (43) exceeds the number of public hospitals (31).

This growth is related to the increasing number of foreign workers who are usually not entitled to public health services, except in emergencies. The cost of private health services is very high, rising more than 13% annually.

Hospitals in the UAE

Public medical facilities in the UAE are well organized and of a high medical standard. They are geared to the needs of the local population and can be overcrowded due to high demand. All private hospitals and clinics offer medical services. However, the quality of these can vary and care should be taken. Medical staff often come from abroad, are well trained and usually speak good English. Nursing is usually provided by overseas nurses from all over the world, often with staff from the Philippines. Private hospitals often do not offer treatments for more severe injuries, certain complex emergencies, and other specific illnesses that are left to public hospitals.

Medical prescriptions in the UAE

There is a wide variety of prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs and medical supplies available in the UAE.

Pharmacies are privatized and have good sourcing opportunities and supply chains. Medical prescriptions must be issued by a local doctor. Most pharmacies do not recognize foreign prescriptions. Many drugs are available without a prescription. Sedatives, antidepressants, or sleeping pills are prohibited in the UAE. Patients taking these drugs should have a notarized and translated copy of the prescription with them with a letter from the doctor explaining the circumstances. This should allow them a limited amount of medication for personal use.

Information for visitors

Visitors are generally not required to undergo a medical exam or have a medical certificate with them unless they have been in areas with cholera or yellow fever in the past 14 days. However, visitors should ensure that they are perfectly healthy before visiting the UAE as the medical costs for visitors can be very high. Some of the reasons to seek medical attention as a foreigner can include respiratory problems, dehydration, heat stroke, sunburn, and alcohol problems. Alcohol problems are often caused by depression among foreigners who work in Dubai. Respiratory illnesses are often caused by sand and dust in the air and made worse by permanent construction sites in the country. Heat strokes and sunburns are caused by the extreme heat in the country. Temperatures reach up to 50 ° C in summer. In an emergency, either call an ambulance or take a taxi to get to the hospital. It is advisable to know the location and contact details of the nearest hospital. For foreigners living in the UAE, good international health insurance is crucial to ensure continued access to quality health care and to avoid high medical fees. When choosing an appropriate health insurance plan, foreigners living in the UAE should consider an appropriate repatriation plan, as the country's location often makes it difficult to reach people in remote areas. For more information, visit the Ministry of Health & Welfare's website.

Visa information

Expatriates considering relocating to the UAE, be it for study or work, can find information on visas here on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

* Cost at the time of publication