Are you a recent graduate student and looking for higher studies in the UAE? You have your destination because this article is going to discuss the top 5 cheapest universities in the UAE. Read this article till the end to get all the useful information about the best UAE universities.
Over the past few decades, UAE has become one of the most influential countries in the world with an outstanding economy. The biggest resource of UAE is oil and the development in the country started almost two decades ago soon after the discovery of oil. The first and foremost Prince of UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan had the dream to make UAE as one of the most substantial and valuable nations in the world. He told his public that no country in the world can make progress without education. The Emirates Nation learn this lesson and all of the successors of Sheikh Zayed did their best to develop the education sector of the country.
Notable Cheap Universities in the United Arab Emirates
It is the general public perception that UAE is an expensive country and this is quite true to some extent. Dubai particularly is an extremely expensive city. However, education in Dubai is not so much expensive. Although, one can find extremely expensive universities in Dubai generally they are quite affordable if compared to the US, Canada or European universities.
UAE is a Perfect Study Destination
UAE is a perfect study definition for those students who want to experience a Multicultural environment. It is a country with nice weather, splendid scenes of sand dunes and deserts and are they going rapid financial Growth. However, Dubai is an expensive city and life can be a bit too hard for international students residing in this expensive city. It is a better idea, to look for those universities which are cheap in their tuition fee. Also, there are various scholarships in UAE and multiple student job opportunities in Dubai. For your help, a detailed analysis is done on international student expenses in Dubai and can be studied here.
The government of UAE had spent billions of dollars on the development of education, particularly higher education in the UAE. This is the reason that today UAE is one of the popular student destinations across the globe. Thanks to the developed UAE states, a substantial amount of exceptional universities and a wide range of incredible facilities, UAE has marked itself a researchers-favourite country. Several universities in UAE are doing remarkably well research making the name of the country. Among all the UAE States, Dubai is contributing fabulously towards the development of higher education in the country. Dubai is called the City of Lights, it is the tourist-favourite location and industrialist beloved country because of its powerful economy and extraordinary infrastructure.
Establishment of Dubai Knowledge Village
Recently, the government of UAE has developed Dubai Knowledge Village which is located at the Heart of the City and comprises numerous world-class universities. Also, the Higher Education Ministry, UAE has introduced English as the primary teaching language in many universities which is indeed an impressive step. Previously, most of the local universities had Arabic language-based programs. Now the availability of English based higher education programs will serve as good assistance for international students.
1. University of Sharjah
The University of Florida is one of the top private universities in UAE, located in the developed state of Sharjah. The foundation storm of University was late in the year 1997. It is a popular University Among international students delivering high-quality education in economic tuition fees. The University of Sharjah is opening new doors for higher education research facilities which in turn attracts a larger number of international students. At the moment, about 10% of the total university student body comprises of international students. The university higher management is taking serious steps to increase the international student community at the University.
Review about University of Sharjah
Located at the heart of a developed multicultural city of Sharjah, the University of Sharjah is contributing significantly towards the development of the education sector in UAE. It is located at a distance of only 15 minutes drive from Sharjah International Airport and about two hours from the capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi. It has three notable chapters in AlDhaid; Khor Fakkan and Kalba and has a large area of about 350,000 square meters. High research grants are provided to excel top standard ongoing research, making it a great institution to study.
Overview of University of Sharjah
|Annual Fee||AED 28,900 - 107,500 (approximately)|
|QS World Ranking||650-700|
|Arabic Region Ranking||18|
|Total Enrolled Students||14070|
|No. of International Students||8800|
|Total Faculty||650 (Local: 28 & International: 620)|
|Status||Private Sector University|
|No. of UG Programs||10 Courses|
|No. of PG Programs||30 Courses|
|Research Output||Very High|
|No. of Campuses||4 Campus
2. United Arab Emirates University
United Arab Emirates University is a preeminent University located in UAE. It has gained a noticeable status and recognition ever since its establishment in the year 1976. UAEU is a popular study destination for international students because of its leading undergraduate and postgraduate programs and incredible faculty. Today it has a notable QS world ranking of about 330. This indeed is a world-class Institution and you must consider it if you are looking to study at top-notch University. It comprises of nine phenomenal colleges including:
- College of Law
- Food and agriculture
- Social sciences
- Information technology
- Economics and business
- Medicine and Health Sciences
UAEU has a remarkable foreign faculty, a fabulous campus and state-of-the-art research facilities, provide a decent learning environment in a marvellous city. UAEU has a large International multicultural community which indeed gives a compelling atmosphere. They teach technical knowledge along with theoretical education. This is the reason that UAEU alumni is holding critical positions in the industry in UAE and worldwide.
Review about United Arab Emirates University
United Arab Emirates University is a superior public sector University located in Al-Ain Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE. The quality of education at United Arab Emirates University is extraordinary but it is a bit too expensive. It is quite hard for middle-class students to afford this expensive University. But it is a good idea to support your expenses by doing a part-time student job in the UAE.
Overview of United Arab Emirates University
|QS Global Ranking||330|
|QS Subject Ranking WUR||250-300|
|Arabic Region Ranking||5|
|Total Enrolled Students||7300|
|No. of International Students||1330|
|Total Faculty||820 (Local: 165 & International: 655)|
|Status||Public Sector University|
|No. of UG Programs||1 course|
|No. of PG Programs||6 Courses|
3. American University in Dubai
The American University in Dubai is a top-class higher education institution located in the marvellous city of Dubai. Its Foundation stone was laid in the year 1995, with a vision to deliver excellent education based on the American curriculum. This is the reason that it has “American” in its title. At this moment, the American University in Dubai has approximately 4000 enrolled students. There are about 120 international students as well. It is famous for providing a multicultural environment to the students since it has students from more than 20 Nations. Hence, it is famous for its diverse environment.
American University in Dubai provides a wide range of higher education programs such as engineering, education, arts, architecture and Business Economics etc. It is located at a very ideal location in Dubai, merely at a drive of about 20 minutes from Dubai International Airport. Therefore it is a perfect opportunity for international students to expose themselves to local Arabic culture in Dubai. Moreover, foreign students can easily find plenty of part-time work opportunities in Dubai to bear their educational and living expenses. Above all, most of the courses offered at the American University in Dubai are accredited and verified by the United States Higher Education Ministry.
Review of American University in Dubai
American University in Dubai is truly one distinguished University in Dubai delivering outstanding education. Because of a large number of international students along with local students, therefore, making a very exemplary multicultural environment. International students have a very vital opportunity to get themselves aware of various cultures, learn different languages and increase their Social Circle by making new friends. It has a welcoming atmosphere, excellent campus and distinguished faculty.
AUD follows the latest curriculum well-updated according to the advanced global ongoing research. The campus is equipped with a decent amount of facilities. It has an extraordinary learning environment. In the year 2016, AUD claimed to have more than 100 nationalities enrolled. It has both undergraduate and postgraduate programs available. The primary language of teaching is English. Some notable colleges of this University are social sciences, engineering, education, languages, business administration, arts and design and marketing.
Overview of American University in Dubai
|Annual Fee||AED 43,500 - 82,600 (approximately)|
|QS World Ranking||601-650|
|Arabic Region Ranking||24|
|Alumni Employablity Rankings||300-500|
|Total Enrolled Students||1880|
|No. of International Students||1580|
|Total Faculty||136 (International: 136)|
|Status||Private Sector University|
|No. of UG Programs||40 Courses|
4. British University in Dubai
British University in Dubai is the private sector high standard research Institution located in the international academic city of Dubai. It was a joint venture from the University of Glasgow, the University of Manchester and the University of Edinburgh, founded in the year 2004 as a non-profit advanced education university. The primary intention was to produce skillful and handypersons to meet the technical needs of the Arabic world and beyond and to help UAE in meeting its financial goals. It was the first educational setup in Dubai based on British teaching style and British curriculum. Above all, BUiD establishment played a vital role in strengthening that UAE-UK relationship and took them to new horizons.
Today, BUiD offers a wide variety of training and research programs in accordance with the advanced British syllabus. Thankfully, all of the masters and Ph.D. programs offered by BUiD are authorized by the Ministry of higher education UAE. BUiD also offered plenty of scholarships and Grant for brilliant international and local students who intend to perform quality research. Most of these grants are sponsored by notable UAE foundations such as Dubai National Bank, a business group of British in Dubai and Rolls-Royce group.
Review about the British University in Dubai
This prestigious University is highly recommended to all those international students who are interested to pursue higher education in Dubai. The Masters and PhD programs at BUiD are fantastic and designed to meet the latest industrial and academia requirements. This is the reason that alumni from this University get immediate employment in renowned industries as well as in notable universities. It has a good graduate employability ranking.
The British University in Dubai is a not-for-profit educational institute and the program fees are normally very reasonable and far less than other universities of similar standards. This makes this University highly suited for the middle class are low income local and international students. Above all, there are a variety of scholarships and study grants available. The faculty of the university is extremely competitive, very friendly and helpful for the students. Also, the campus has a sufficient number of research and extracurricular facilities.
Overview of the British University in Dubai
|Annual Fee||AED 55,100 - 75,100 (approximately)|
|Total Enrolled Students||550|
|No. of International Students||360|
|Total Faculty||25 (International: 24 & domestic: 1)|
|Status||Private Sector University|
|No. of Courses||1 UG Course & 1 PG Course|
5. Khalifa University Abu Dhabi
Khalifa University Abu Dhabi is a public sector university in the UAE. It is an autonomous and nonprofit co-education institution united with Masdar petroleum Institute producing world-class researchers, administrators and thinkers particularly in the field of engineering. Today, Khalifa University is contributing significantly towards the economic and educational growth of the UAE. The first and foremost mission of Khalifa University is to discover the latest application-based knowledge in engineering. The higher management of Khalifa university has set a goal to become an internationally recognized research-based institute within a few years. They have already achieved this Milestone to a great extent.
This fast-growing university comprises of more than 40 nationalities as a part of this institute, they may be an interested student or foreign faculty. Therefore, making of culturally precious environment and a perfect place to study. If offered a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs. There are 13 undergrads, 22 graduates and 7 Ph.D. programs available. Some of the top ongoing research projects at Khalifa University include:
- Renewable energy.
- Production and research on hydrocarbons.
- Analysis of water and climate.
- Research on Healthcare and medicine.
- Study of Supply Chain management.
- Investigation on the state-of-the-art materials.
- Ongoing research of robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
- Research on the latest communication technologies.
There are also several other ongoing research projects which mostly answer UAE’s local industrial critical issues. Moreover, the university also dedicates research to many government defence sectors projects and security initiatives. Scholars from this incredible University participate in many national and international technical competitions to demonstrate their skills.
Review about Khalifa University Abu Dhabi
Khalifa University is definitely the best public sector educational institution in the UAE. It is the top university because of creed major reasons; highly qualified faculty, extraordinary campus facilities and remarkable administrative support for students. It has a perfect location, located in the heart of Abu Dhabi. This is exceptional University provides an excellent research environment, all the faculty members are very supportive and friendly. Most of the research labs have all the updated equipment.
One common complaint from many International students is their long application processing time for admission. It is a world-class University, and receive thousands of application from across the globe. Hence, one should stay prepared that the admission procedure may take a minimum of 4-5 months after the submission of initial documents. It is also a decent place to work, the faculty get a handsome amount of salaries but at the same time, you would have a lot of workloads. This notable University has many distinguished funding sources, therefore, the researchers do not face any difficulty in performing incredible research.
Overview of the Khalifa University Abu Dhabi
|Annual Fee||AED 40,100 - 60,100 (approximately)|
|Average Annual Living Cost||AED 38,000 (aprroximately)|
|Per Credit Hour Fees||UG: AED 3,500 & PG: AED 5,100|
|Total Enrolled Students||3300|
|No. of International Students||660|
|Total Faculty||441 (International: 393 & domestic: 48)|
|Status||Public Sector University|
Some Frequently Asked Questions from International Students
The international students in Dubai are to be highly regarded, as they are internationally recognized students who came to Dubai for its world-class educational system. They are also the ones responsible for making Dubai the financial hub it is today; since most of them come from very rich families and usually invest part of their wealth in Dubai.
Mention that the international students in Dubai may follow either a self-financed or full-sponsored route. Mention that the international students in Dubai must abide by the rules and regulations given to them, including all visa requirements.
Finally here are some of the frequently asked questions by the International students related to educational facilities, student work visas, and tuition fees at UAE universities.
Is higher education free in the UAE?
Yes, UAE locals who have UAE nationality have the facility to big higher education at public sector universities without any tuition fee. However, take are ineligible to attend a free program at private universities. Contrarily, international students have to pay program fees both are public sector and private universities in the UAE.
What are the general eligibility criteria for a student visa in UAE?
Students can be enrolled in UAE University programs if they are sponsored by a citizen/resident of the UAE. If a student doesn’t have any relationships in UAE, his intended University will take responsibility for him. Some universities will also sponsor the students, but this varies from case to case. Student visas are provided for a period of one year and need annual renewals up till the completion of the degree program.
Are international students allowed to work in the UAE?
Yes according to new regulations from the UAE Ministry of human resources, those international students who have student work permits issued by the Government of UAE can work part-time. It is pretty easy to find a part-time student job in Dubai. Additionally, some Dubai universities also offer student Summer Internship programs to enable brilliant students to get hands-on industrial experience with their studies.
Explain the main differences between self-financing v/s fully sponsored (e.g., what are the benefits for each; how does one qualify; etc.)?
When self-financing their education, international students are required to pay for their own fees. They are also responsible for paying all the expenses related to living in Dubai (e.g., accommodation, food) which can include flights ticket if they intend to travel back home during semester breaks. Any money sent by family members or relatives is strictly prohibited and could lead to deportation.
Fully-Sponsored (Dubai Government)
International students who are fully sponsored by the Dubai government may enter Dubai on a tourist visa and enroll within a few days. They can later apply for an extension of their stay so they can start working once they graduate from university/college, as long as the course duration does not exceed 3 years. This will allow them to provide for their family’s expenses throughout the whole time spent in the UAE. However, this is also subject to change depending on how strict immigration rules become – meaning that international students should always check with immigration authorities before accepting any offer.
The main difference between self-financing and fully sponsored options:
Advantage of self-financing:
- Freedom on choosing courses without depending on UAE government’s rules or quotas on student intake Disadvantage of self-financing:
- Costs for living expenses (accommodation, food, etc.) Time spent in looking for a job once the course is completed (international students may not work while studying)
Advantages of fully sponsored:
- No time spent on finding a job once the course is completed, as long as it does not exceed 3 years Government sponsorship for a job with a decent salary upon graduation from university/college
- International students can bring their family together with them to live in Dubai Government’s support and supervision is provided throughout the whole duration of studying
The disadvantage of fully sponsored:
- International students are legally bound to seek employment with the government upon graduation.
- They cannot work anywhere else. If they wish to do so, they must first resign before applying for employment at another company or organization.
- However, this can take up to 6 months which will cause the loss of one whole semester.
Q: What are the benefits of choosing to study in Dubai?
A: The international students who decide to come and study abroad benefit from New Academy’s quality education at an affordable price; they also gain cultural experiences by meeting different people with different backgrounds; studying in Dubai offers a unique opportunity to explore the world-class shopping malls, tourist attractions, and nightlife.
Q: What kind of visa can international students use to enter Dubai?
A: In order to study in Dubai, one needs to obtain a student visa that is either single entry or double entry. The validity of this visa generally ranges from three months to six months. Although the visa validity is for three months, Dubai’s immigration rules state that international students can enter and leave as often as they like. This means that one could come and study in Dubai for a month without any problem at all. It is important to note that this rule may change depending on how strict immigration policies become – it is better to double-check with immigration authorities before staying for an extended period of time.
Q: What financial documents should be provided by international students?
A: International students should provide financial evidence that they can pay for their own fees and living expenses in Dubai. This could include bank statements, salary slips, scholarship certificates, or other forms of income statements. If the international student is fully sponsored by the Dubai government then they will not need to provide these documents as the government will cover all costs. However, if the international student pays the total cost themselves, then they must prove that they have enough money to support themselves throughout their studies (approximately AED 20000 per year). It is also important to note that UAE immigration laws prohibit sending money from outside of Dubai, so students can either try to open a bank account in Dubai or bring enough money with them upon arrival.
Q: What are the top universities in Dubai?
A: The following are some of the top universities/colleges in Dubai: New Academy New York University Tisch School of Arts Emirates National School of Creative Technology British University in Dubai American University in Dubai
Q: Can international students work part-time while studying?
A: International students can look for employment opportunities whilst studying but they cannot accept any offer until their student visa expires. This is due to immigration laws that allow international students to stay for no longer than three months on their single entry visa. If any student accepts an opportunity before their study visa expires, then they may be asked to leave Dubai on the next available flight.
Q: Can international students bring their families with them?
A: Yes, international students can bring their families with them as long as they are financially supported by the student or have a suitable offer of employment in Dubai. This means that international students can apply for visas for their spouses and children who will not need to pay any school fees until they are enrolled at an institute of higher education. It is important to note, however, that UAE immigration laws prohibit bringing tourists into the country unless these tourists intend to stay for over six months. If one wishes to visit only briefly then it is better to enter via one of the GCC countries ( Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, etc.)
Q: What insurance must be provided by international students?
A: Dubai requires that all international students carry medical health insurance at all times, which covers any injuries that may occur during their stay. International students can either purchase an appropriate insurance plan through an institute of higher education or bring their own policy with them (provided that it is recognized by the UAE government). It is also important for local authorities to see proof of life insurance before new visa applications are submitted.
Q: What are typical admission requirements for international students applying to universities in Dubai?
A: Most universities require at least a high school diploma or equivalent qualification before accepting new students. Some institutions will offer admissions to applicants who have completed two years of college studies, depending on each institution’s requirements. In addition to this, international students must prove that they can speak and understand English fluently in order to be admitted into an institute of higher education.
Q: Can international students bring their cars with them?
A: Yes, but only if the student is bringing a car from outside of Dubai and has all ownership documents for the vehicle. If the car was bought in Dubai then it cannot be brought to the country unless it’s imported by a GCC national or someone who already owns property within Dubai (one must prove ownership via Emirates ID). All vehicles brought into the country must pass certain safety inspections before being allowed on any roads, however, these tests usually take place at authorized garages which are separate from normal garages.
Q: Can international students bring their pets with them?
A: Dubai is a pet-friendly city, which means that it’s possible for international students to bring their dogs and cats along to the country if they wish. To do this, one must obtain a “No Objection Certificate” from Dubai Municipality in advance of arrival. This certificate can be acquired by completing an application form and submitting a recent vaccination record and a copy of the student’s resident visa. Once obtained, authorities will allow one cat or dog into the country per household up to the age of six months old. All other animals will need preapproval before being allowed into Dubai.
Q: What happens if an international student needs to leave the UAE temporarily?
A: If one needs to leave the country temporarily and returns within six months, then it is usually possible for them to return to Dubai. However, if someone leaves for more than six months (and does not already own property or have a family member who lives in Dubai) they will likely need to reapply for an entirely new visa upon return under the “No Objection Certificate” system. This means that applicants can only leave and reenter Dubai once every six months no matter how many times they travel outside of the country.
Q: Are there any rules related to employment for international students?
A: Yes, universities usually impose strict rules about the number of hours that students are allowed to work while they study. The same limitations apply to people who are doing research, visiting an academic exchange program, or studying full-time in Dubai. Universities may allow certain scholarships and grants to cover tuition fees but nothing else is free within the city – international students must pay all living costs out of pocket.
Q: How can international students open a bank account if they do not have an Emirates ID?
A: A local sponsor (an individual with Emirates ID) can help you open a bank account in Dubai provided that he/she is willing to also be financially responsible for you (meaning that they put money into the bank account and cover any debts if they become too high). If you’re studying at a university in Dubai then your college’s administration can usually help by sponsoring you for an Emirates ID card.
Q: What is Emirates ID? And do international students need one to rent/buy property in Dubai?
A: Emirates ID is a form of government-issued identification which all residents must carry with them when visiting doctors, applying for jobs, or opening a bank account. International students can obtain this identification card from their educational institute without needing to provide any formal documentation – most colleges will enroll all registered students automatically once courses begin and issue IDs during registration.
The UAE government uses Emirates ID as proof of an individual’s place of residence in Dubai. It is possible to rent or purchase property without Emirates ID, but only if the person provides proof that they are a GCC national (which usually means having a family member who already owns property in the city).
Q: How can I find out more information about the visa process for international students?
A: Anyone who would like to study in Dubai will need to apply for a student visa. This document is only valid with the correct college or educational institute and lasts for as long as you remain registered with that specific educational institute (the length of your course, plus two months extra). If you’re planning on staying in Dubai beyond six months then it’s important to check whether your educational institute requires an “entry clearance” letter from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Once one has their ID number then they can get work permission by showing proof of registration at school/college/university to any local government labor office.
Q: What are the rules related to owning property as an international student in Dubai?
A: There are many rules and regulations which govern the purchase of property in Dubai. A non-GCC national can own up to 3 properties at any given time (meaning that they do not need to sell a previous property before they can buy another one). International students cannot legally rent out their properties during the first year after purchasing it – this means that you will either need to live there yourself or find someone else who is willing to occupy the space rent-free during this period. After one year, international students can rent out their land plots so long as it is registered under their name and Emirates ID card. Buying property with other people’s money is considered “speculation” and may result in the individual being deported from the UAE.
Q: What are the costs of living as an international student in Dubai?
A: The cost of living for international students is comparable to most Western countries – groceries and public transport tend to be more expensive than average, but rent and entertainment are fairly cheap. Utilities vary depending on one’s location within the city – a studio apartment with no windows will be cheaper to heat/cool than a new condo that is fitted with modern technology. Student accommodation is usually managed by a company that provides a furnished room plus access to a shared kitchen and bathroom facility. Rent varies between AED 3000-4000 per month (roughly equivalent to USD 1000).
Q: Who should register as my sponsor if I am studying in Dubai?
A: Your educational institute should be able to arrange this for you if you tell them how long you intend to study for. Most institutes will not allow international students to undertake part time positions such as tutoring or working in retail stores, so it is best not to mention these activities when applying for a student visa at the consulate.
Q: Are there any age restrictions on studying in Dubai? Are schools/institutes still accepting applications from seniors (40+) and young children (5+)?
A: There are no laws dictating an absolute minimum education age within the UAE; however some educational institutions do have their own minimum age requirements which must be met before registration can begin. For some courses (such as those which require the completion of high school prior to enrolment), age restrictions may be as high as 25. Most primary and secondary schools in Dubai do not discriminate between Emirati and non-Emirati students, but it is common for them to set an age limit due to class size limitations (especially in cases where they require specialist teachers). At most tertiary education levels, there are no minimum or maximum ages applied for entry.
Q: What is the best way to improve my English language skills before I arrive in Dubai?
A: The most efficient and convenient way to practice your spoken English prior to your arrival in Dubai would be with an online course – we recommend joining a free trial class before committing yourself fully. Otherwise, it’s advisable to make some local friends with who you can practice speaking (ideally native speakers). Online resources such as meetup.com and couchsurfing.com are also helpful for finding like-minded people; alternatively, if you already know someone living in Dubai then asks them where they hang out and try to befriend students or young professionals. Some universities offer intensive pre-sessional language courses that may be worth looking into (although fees may apply).
Q: What is the minimum salary I can expect to be paid as an international student in Dubai?
A: Although there are no laws within the UAE dictating a minimum wage, many universities and colleges offer stipends for their postgraduate students – this varies between institutions. The average monthly salary an individual can expect to earn as a first-year graduate (0-2 years experience) is around AED 7000 (roughly equivalent to USD 2000), or roughly 50% more than the median monthly income at that level (which was approximately AED 4750 per month as of November 2016).
Q: How much should I budget for groceries/living expenses every month?
A: Minimum basic living costs such as food, transport, housing, etc. can vary significantly depending on one’s location within the city (i.e. whether they live in a studio apartment or a sprawling penthouse with views out to the Burj Khalifa). The following is an estimate of certain living expenses for students who rent outside of reputable student accommodation facilities:
- AED 2000-3000 per month for rent (studio)
- AED 300-500 per month for bills (electricity & water)
- AED 1000-1500 per month for groceries
- AED 1000/2000 per month if sharing with another person
Q: How much money will I need to take with me? Does Dubai accept credit cards? Can I withdraw cash using my bank’s ATM card?
A: It is advisable to carry at least $500-1000 in cash per person at all times, particularly if you are traveling outside of the city. The UAE dirham (AED) is presently pegged against the US dollar (USD), so most merchants will accept USD notes without a problem. Most ATM machines in Dubai feature multi-currency capabilities and can dispense both AED & USD currency. Visa and MasterCard debit/credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s advisable not to rely on them as your only source of funds within the country.
Q: Are international students allowed to hold part-time jobs? If yes, what types of jobs are permissible for student visa holders?
A: In general it is forbidden for people on student visas to take up employment of any kind (including part-time jobs or internships). There are, however, certain exceptions if the job is related to the course one is studying; such as research assistantships and teaching assistant positions. If in doubt, please contact your university for further clarification.
Q: What will I need to get a driving license? How much does it cost?
A: To drive in Dubai you will first need an international driving permit (IDP) which can be obtained from AAA members in your home country at a discounted rate – some automobile associations might even provide them onsite for free! The main types of driving licenses available in the UAE are B1 (for mopeds), M1 (cars, etc.), and T1 (trucks, buses).
Q: Will I qualify for UAE nationalization once I graduate?
A: It depends on your chosen field of study; certain courses are classified as ‘sensitive’ so graduates may not be offered full Emirati citizenship immediately after graduation. However, if you plan to take up employment in the private sector or apply for an annual trade license then having citizenship will greatly ease the process.
Q: How should I dress while sightseeing? What kind of clothing is appropriate to wear during Ramadan?
A: Dubai is a modern city where western clothing prevails; although the modest dress is preferred for certain religious sites. During the month of Ramadan, it’s best to dress conservatively, avoid eating or drinking in public during daylight hours and refrain from smoking in any public places (including restaurants).
Q: Should I buy property while studying abroad?
A: The UAE has one of the most competitive real estate markets in the world; property prices depend on many factors including location and type of building materials used. While purchasing a home may seem like an attractive option, it would be wise to consider other long-term investments such as education costs, medical costs (particularly with the introduction of mandatory health insurance), and employment opportunities before sinking your life savings into property.
Q: Is there anywhere I shouldn’t go within Dubai? What locations have the highest crime rates?
A: Dubai is a very safe place to live and provides a high standard of living for expats from all over the world. Just follow local laws and you should have no trouble at all! Crime rates are comparably low, but as anywhere else in the world it pays to use common sense when dealing with strangers. The most dangerous areas within Dubai may be those which are poorly maintained or lack proper street lighting. Areas such as Satwa, Al Karama, Qusais Industrial Area, and Jebel Ali Village tend to fall under this category.
Q: Is there an area/neighborhood where I can find affordable shopping malls close to my accommodation? Are there any good second-hand shops?
A: There are many cheap outlets outside Dubai’s city center, including the Al Wasl Road strip (where brands such as Adidas, Nike, and Levis can be found) and the Deira City Centre area. Second-hand goods tend to be more expensive than their counterparts in your home country which is due to import taxes on used items. Popular second-hand shopping areas include the Satwa Roundabout Clocktower roundabout (just off Sheikh Zayed Road) and Maktoum Street which runs through Deira; both of these areas are well known for selling previously owned electronics like mobile phones, laptops, etc.
Q: Are there any nearby military bases I should avoid? Do local taxi drivers know where they are located?
A: There are many military bases in the UAE, so it’s hard to avoid them entirely. Security is tight around these areas, so it is very unlikely that you will accidentally wander into one. Most taxi drivers do know where all of the main camps and compounds are located; if unsure just ask your driver politely!