At the height of the pandemic, the UAE went through six weeks of lockdown. When things opened up, the country saw a huge inflow of high skilled talent from around the world coming to work remotely. Over the last two years, the number of remote workers moving to the UAE has reportedly been in the tens of thousands, according to their minister who oversees the remote work visa applications.
Remote working infrastructure
The UAE government has spent millions of dollars in over the past few decades on building infrastructure for remote working, giving it an advantage over other nations. The country was ranked third globally in a list of Most Connected Countries index by Carphone Warehouse, a British mobile phone retailer.
In 2021, the United Arab Emirates reportedly had the fastest mobile internet speeds in the world with 238.06 mbps, a remote worker’s dream.
In terms of infrastructure and connectivity, Dubai has introduced public WiFi, smart parking, electric car charging stations and smart power grids. In addition to the remote work visas, Dubai is also home to a number of co-working spaces for people looking for comfortable workstations.
A shorter work week
Last December, the UAE cut its working week to four-and-a-half days, joining the list of countries offering the coveted four day work week. It also moved its weekend from the original Friday-Saturday to Saturday-Sunday — the only Arab country to do so — to improve competitiveness.
In Dubai, the norm is to work hard and play harder. The shorter work week means more time to explore the many attractions on offer with its shopping malls, beaches, desert experiences, theme parks etc.
Because of its unique geographic location, remote workers in Dubai are able to serve a number of timezones.
You could be taking calls from Asia in the morning, work with your European colleagues in the afternoon, and dial into the US in the evening. So if you’re part of a global team, you don’t have to stay up at odd times to take phone calls or zoom meetings with your colleagues in other parts of the world.
Dubai’s location also provides for perfect mobility to travel East or West within a day. So, you can easily plan work trips for a day trip to Europe, Africa or Asia.
Remote Work Visa
In March 2021, the UAE introduced a new Remote Work Visa to enable employees from all over the world to live and work remotely from the UAE for one year, even if their companies were based in another country.
To secure a remote work visa all you need to do is provide proof of a valid employment contract for one year paying a minimum salary of Dhs 21 120 per month.
The application will cost you Dhs 1210 per person with added costs for medical insurance valid in the UAE and the processing fees bringing the total to approximately Dhs 2579. The visa is valid for a year and can be renewed by re-applying and if you’re eligible you can even bring your family along.
Visa for freelancers
In November 2020, the UAE introduced freelance visas for self-employed from around the work to live and work in the country.
Multiple free zones across the UAE, such as Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Design District, offer a wide range of freelance visas to foreigners looking to work in the UAE.
According to Dubai Development Authority, a freelancer permit costs Dhs 8624 excluding visa costs. Professionals working in a number for industries including finance, media, IT, education and design can apply to work as a freelancer in the UAE.
No income tax
One of the main perks reported by professionals who make the move to Dubai is the virtually non existent tax. With just a 5% value added tax (VAT) of 5%, workers pay no income tax.