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If you think Dubai is just an Arab city like any other, you are dead wrong. The truth is, there is a lot to talk about this wonderful city.

In fact, Dubai is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

This article is divided into three parts: past, present, and future, with the present divided into internal and external factors. Much of the past explains the success of the present, and what happens today determines the Emirate’s future prosperity.

[Note: This is a love letter to Dubai from our contributor Juliana, who lives there most of the year. As a Brazilian who has lived in Germany for a long time, she has found in Dubai a centre of life that embodies her vision of the future and combines it with security and all kinds of amenities. Dubai is, of course, only one of the 7 Arab Emirates, but we can guarantee that it is the most special in every way, which is why we dedicate this article specifically to Dubai].

The past

Dubai was a desert with a few modest fishing villages. In the early 20th century, the city began to develop into an important trading post on the Persian Gulf, especially after the discovery of high-quality pearls in its waters.

However, the real turning point in Dubai’s history came in the 1960s with the discovery of oil deposits: although it had fewer reserves than its neighbours (the amount of oil found in the region was nothing compared to that of Abu Dhabi, for example) Dubai seized on them with foresight and embarked on a phase of intensive modernisation and urbanisation. The ruling family, especially Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, realised that oil would not last forever, and invested wisely in infrastructure, education, and the business sector to create a diversified and sustainable economy.

Dubai’s rulers see the city as a business that must deliver value, not as a resource to be squeezed dry. They knew that, to attract people, you must first create a beautiful garden… and the butterflies will come of their own accord.

They decided to transform the desert into a futuristic city offering the best possible quality of life and a maximised happiness index. That is why Dubai began to invest heavily in unprecedented urban development projects.

From the outset, Dubai’s royal family focused on attracting the best workforce to realise their visions for the Emirate: they focused on bold and innovative structures with the aim of attracting more people from Europe and the United States. This approach led to the creation of unique attractions and facilities that set Dubai apart on the international stage.

A key element of this strategy was the creation of its own airline, Emirates Airlines, now recognised as one of the world’s leading airlines. With its first-class service and large fleet of state-of-the-art aircraft, Emirates has set new standards in the international air transport sector.

Another decisive step was the development of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Today, the DIFC is the leading financial centre for the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia regions. The DIFC acts as a platform for financial service providers and institutions from around the world, and has become a hub for business and finance.

Dubai also introduced locally the concept of free zones —special economic zones that offer companies and investors tax advantages and more freedom for business. These zones have proven to be a great success and continue to attract international investment and business activity.

Dubai’s real estate market is also one of the most profitable in the world. With its mix of luxury properties, modern residential complexes and commercial developments, Dubai offers a wide range of investment opportunities and has become a hotspot for real estate investors from around the world. Dubai’s evolution from a fishing village to a global real estate hub is certainly amazin.

Its leaders took bold, visionary, and ambitious steps to make the region the ‘best place’ in the world: they knew that oil would not last forever and that the wealth from this source had to be converted into value for citizens of all nationalities.

In the decades that followed, the city became an important commercial and financial centre.

Dubai is also known for wanting to do everything bigger and better than any other country: the construction of the Jebel Ali harbour in the 1970s, the largest man-made harbour in the world, was an important step in this direction. In the 1990s, the city began to position itself as a world tourist centre. Massive projects such as the construction of the Burj Al Arab and later the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) cemented Dubai’s reputation as the city of superlatives. In fact, even the Emirati passport is the number one passport in the world (better even than the German or any other European passport!).

To make the city even more attractive after the setback of the pandemic in 2020, Dubai introduced the Golden Visa, linked to investments in property or bank balances, with which it also aimed to attract talent to the city (expert professionals and successful entrepreneurs). Naturally, can also help you get a Golden Visa.

In 2023, Dubai passed the 3.6 million population mark.

The present

Internal factors: Dubai is much more than just a modern marvel.

One very important factor is taxation, because to put it bluntly, taxes are simply theft: at we promote the Perpetual Traveller lifestyle for a variety of reasons, but one of the main ones is that it allows you to legally save on taxes. As a Perpetual Tourist, you can get out of one tax hellhole without having to enter another.

Have you ever thought that choosing the perfect place to live, where you can be yourself without having to worry about length of stay or tax residency, is not as simple as it sounds? I am talking about a place where you can live practically permanently and pay 0% income tax… or where you can simply spend more than 6 months a year, in case you get tired of travelling permanently or do not want to move permanently to a single destination all at once.

Of course, there are remote islands or countries around the Middle East that fit this description, but if you place a premium on quality of life, modern infrastructure, civil and religious liberties, comfort, and a certain proximity to the Western world, your list of realistic options is drastically reduced. The few other attractive destinations probably will not even let you in if you do not have millions of dollars in assets with which to buy your nationality.

Sometimes you would like to live in a city that does not constrain and limit you, that does not get on your nerves and that is not in the middle of nowhere, such as the typical islands where infrastructure or supply chains are extremely limited or precarious. Of course, living on an island for a while can be exciting and attractive, but in the long run it is often impractical unless you adapt your lifestyle considerably to the constraints that come with it.

That dream combination of fiscal freedom with a lifestyle that meets all your wants and needs is rare indeed.

Dubai, however, could be just such a place: it is a city where you can enjoy quality of life and security, a city that never sleeps, with affordable services and amenities that make daily life easier and more rewarding.

If your goal is to save money, there are countries where you can live well on a shoestring, and in fact they tend to be the favourite destinations of the community’s perpetual travellers and digital nomads: Mexico, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Colombia, Cambodia, Serbia, Paraguay, Costa Rica, and many others… but none offer the quality of life of Dubai (or the UAE in general). They are either not safe destinations, or their infrastructures are considerably outdated, or they are not ideal for family life, or they are underdeveloped, or they are dangerous, or they are corrupt, or they harbour certain prejudices… and I could go on for the rest of this article listing the drawbacks.

Dubai’s population is made up of 85% immigrants. How is this possible when, at the same time, in other parts of the world such as Sweden, the United States or Germany, for example, differences seem to separate people instead of bringing them together?

In Dubai there are no racial tensions because the situation is not one of a ‘majority’ versus a ‘minority’. In fact, Emiratis represent less than 10% of the population, and there is a sense that ‘everyone has come to improve their lives’: some come to lift themselves out of poverty and earn a decent wage to support their families, others come to turn their gross salary into their take-home pay, and others come to dramatically improve their quality of life and earning potential.

The city welcomes you, allows you to settle in, contribute, prosper, and grow. If you walk around Dubai with your eyes and your ears open, you get the impression that every third person you meet could be a business partner or a customer. Business activities are at the heart of life, and the city offers great opportunities for doing business. Dubai is open to everyone living in harmony and promotes maximum tolerance: people come here because they want to be in Dubai. Sure, they may ‘hate’ being away from home, their families and friends; but they earn decent money to send back to their loved ones. Therefore, Dubai helps them achieve a goal and fulfil a purpose that their home country could not provide.

In Dubai you do not have to ‘convert to Arab culture’, and you do not even have to learn the language. Compare this to Germany, for example, where foreigners who do not speak German are simply finished and have no access to opportunities in the country. Here, you do not have to give up your roots, your customs and traditions to fit in or be accepted in the country. You can be yourself —as long as you respect others to be themselves.

Wealth is more than welcome in Dubai, talent is recognised and well remunerated, and the city appreciates those who bring value!

What makes Dubai so special

  1. Quality of life: Dubai is simply inexplicable. Here you have everything and in every possible way, with every price range, service, variety, and quality. Dubai is a great place to live because of the possibilities and opportunities it has to offer, and all the aspects listed below are more or less part of this first reason, which is the excellent quality of life. The city may not be perfect, but that is a matter of taste. The question is, which city performs better and has more to offer than Dubai?
  2. Safety: Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world, if not the safest of all (there are no drunks or troublemakers on the streets). Walking around here is incredibly safe, and no one will attack or rob you, not even the government. If they dared to do so, I have no doubt that its population would wake up and empty Dubai the next day.
  3. Respect: The people of Dubai are very considerate. No one here will look down on you or judge you, because everyone has their own history, background, and customs. Everyone is kind and friendly to you (always with a ‘good morning, how are you doing today, madam/sir?’) and, naturally, you will behave in the same way there, without prejudice or condescension.
  4. Frenetic pace: everything goes very fast here, especially the services. Appointments that even in theoretically more advanced countries (such as Germany) would take weeks to get, Dubai can provide on the same day. Flat rentals, medical appointments, driving licences… even the installation of curtains and wall mirrors: it is all done in a jiffy! In addition, most government services can be accessed online with an app, and documents are delivered by post.
  5. Convenience and comfort: in Dubai you no longer need to leave your home, because you can get everything online. And when I say everything, I mean absolutely everything: Dubai offers many practical services that save you time and make life easier. For example, underground car parks in buildings, shopping centres and supermarkets offer a hand car wash service.
  6. Opportunities for growth: There is a sense that everyone here wants to grow and create, as there is a culture of hard work. You can tell that people are working hard and giving their best, so even the sky is not the limit —because yes, the opportunities are there, it is just a matter of who takes them. Everyone is determined and motivated, and there is no culture of envy where some want to steal from others (as in European social democracy or American socialisms). Here, dishwashers and taxi drivers become millionaires too!
  7. Networking: If there is one place where ‘being in the right place at the right time with the right person’ is true, it is Dubai. Here everyone comes together: in Europe everyone is scattered across cities, countries, or the world… but somehow everyone stops in Dubai —at least as a stopover between 2 other destinations… And expats tend to be sociable people.
  8. Innovation: Dubai is a city that has always been forward-looking, and it is where it is today because of its ambition. You cannot grow unless you take an innovative stance, and there are so many factors to talk about here that it would be hard to connect them all. A good example is cloud seeding to make Dubai’s environment more liveable, but this city can do much more than manipulate the weather.
  9. Opportunities: Dubai offers so much, both in terms of career mobility
    (no salary caps and employment opportunities) and in terms of increasing profit margins or being able to look after yourself, meet interesting partners and friends, and enjoy life in different ways.
  10. Tax exemption: tax is theft… get it out of the way with me. If you are looking for a legally-safe haven with a 0% tax burden on personal and capital gains, just come to Dubai. Whether the personal income tax exemption will be maintained in the long term is anyone’s guess… but currently here you can get your gross income instantly transformed into your net income.
  11. Money-making opportunities: There is an atmosphere of business, connections, and partnerships here. It is very easy to make new contacts and expand your network, which increases your options for earning money and knowledge, and improve your quality of life.
  12. Infrastructure, order, and cleanliness: the whole city is spotless and everything seems to work perfectly. Probably in the country where you live, about 10 minutes before closing time in your local supermarket, an employee comes by the shop with a machine that cleans the floor. Well, in Dubai there is something similar, but also in the garages of residential buildings and even on the pavements. Many buildings have a gym and swimming pool, and while the finish of the flats may not be up to the highest standards, there is no doubt that you can live very well in Dubai. If your flat gets mouldy, do not worry… they are probably already building a new one next door.
  13. Leisure and recreation: Dubai offers a wide range of leisure activities, from desert safaris to water parks and luxurious spas. The city has something for everyone, from beaches to parks to numerous cultural events. This diversity makes Dubai an ideal place for leisure and entertainment that is no longer inferior to other international metropolises.
  14. Entertainment: From world-class shopping and entertainment centres to high-profile events and festivals, Dubai is a hub for global entertainment. The city attracts international artists and events and offers a wide range of entertainment options for all ages. In addition, the city offers delicious food everywhere you look.
  15. Tolerance: no one gives you a hard time, no one looks down on you and no one judges you. Dubai is known for its tolerant attitude towards different cultures and lifestyles. The city promotes a culture of respect and acceptance, and allows people from different backgrounds to live together in harmony, because we are all brothers and sisters here. Indians and Pakistanis, Israelis and Arabs, Armenians and Turks… among many other ethnic groups, live here in peace and harmony.
  16. Peace: Dubai is a peaceful city with a stable political environment. The emirate’s leaders attach great importance to social peace and harmony among the city’s residents and visitors. If you start a fight in a bar, you can end up in jail.
  17. Services: Dubai is first and foremost a country of services. The city offers first-class services in almost every area of life: from efficient public transport to fast government services, the city is designed to meet the needs of its residents and visitors. Services such as cleaning, maintenance, and courier deliveries are designed to be extremely efficient and convenient. Delivery drivers will call you, and you can even arrange with them the time you want them to show up at your home.
  18. Investments: Dubai is a global investment hub, focusing on forward-thinking industries such as renewable energy, technology, and sustainable development. With its liberal business regulations and stable economic environment, the city attracts investors from all over the world —especially from the real estate sector.
  19. Profitability: From real estate investment to tourism (short-term rentals/Airbnb) and technological innovation, the city attracts investors seeking high returns. Dubai’s strategy to establish itself as a global business and trade hub has helped make it one of the world’s most profitable markets. Its diversified and evolving economy provides an environment in which both local and international companies can thrive.
  20. Architecture: Beyond the skyscrapers lies the true architectural soul of Dubai. The city honours its past by preserving and integrating traditional Arab architecture into the modern cityscape. Every building tells a story, whether through its design, choice of materials or function in the city’s urban fabric. Dubai wants to be bigger and better, and does not hesitate to defy physics, but its buildings reflect much more than that.
  21. Care and healthcare: Dubai places great importance on healthcare and offers state-of-the-art medical facilities. The city attracts the best doctors and specialists in the world and offers high quality health and care services. All the doctors I visited made me feel very comfortable.
  22. Education: Dubai is also an excellent choice for families with children, as it is home to some of the best public schools in the world. However, there is no strict compulsory schooling as in many countries. Extending holidays by a week will not be a problem for the little ones —after all, you are the paying customer for their education… and you do not usually pay very little. Homeschooling is also explicitly permitted, and a large number of alternative educational institutions promise the right programme for every child: small classes, excellent infrastructure and motivated teachers, as well as an unbeatable programme of activities, will make your children feel sad when the holidays come and they can no longer go to school.
  23. Childcare options: Let us continue with the subject of children. If adults are travelling or simply want to spend a romantic evening, Dubai offers plenty of options —and at much lower costs than anywhere else in the world. Live-in nannies are the norm rather than the exception. For as little as €1,000 per month, not only will you have excellent childcare, but you will no longer have to worry about household chores. This reason alone makes Dubai the perfect base for well-travelled couples, whether they have children or not.
  24. Diversity and variety: Dubai is a cosmopolitan city with a diverse population. People from over 200 nations live and work here, resulting in a rich cultural diversity and a vibrant social environment.
  25. Climate and beaches: Dubai enjoys a sunny and warm climate all year round and offers beautiful beaches on the Persian Gulf. These natural features make it a favourite destination for beach and sun lovers —it is certainly a great combination of city and beach! And, just a 2-hour drive away, the Indian Ocean offers even more possibilities.
  26. Location (base/hub): Dubai is a strategic hub between East and West. Its geographical location makes it an ideal hub for trade, transport and tourism between Europe, Asia, Oceania, and Africa. From here you can easily travel to every country in the world, and with a level of convenience that is unmatched almost anywhere else —specially because the several additional connections in nearby Abu Dhabi, as well as in Dubai itself. As a resident, entry through Smartgates is equally easy.
  27. Freedom and carefree lifestyle: In Dubai, the world is at your service, since the city allows its residents and visitors to fully enjoy life. The sense of freedom is much greater here than in Europe, as the real restrictions are more common sense. Adherence to certain cultural norms is likely to enhance rather than detract from your sense of freedom.
  28. Luxury offerings: The city is a haven for lovers of luxury and exclusivity, offering many premium services and offerings, as well as personalised experiences. If you cannot do it in Dubai, you cannot do it anywhere!
  29. Shopping: The city offers an unrivalled shopping experience. There is everything here, especially shopping malls… which even have their own ski resorts!
  30. The epicentre of wealth: the city not only attracts wealthy people, but is also a major location for financial institutions and international companies. Wealth here is treated well, cared for and valued; it is not mistreated or blamed for the problems of others, as it is in almost every other country in the world —especially in the West.
  31. Refuge: For many, Dubai is a place of refuge and hope. It is a melting pot where dreams can come true and where people from all over the world can find a new home and a new community. This role as a global home makes Dubai an invaluable place, especially as the outside world crumbles and withers. Wars may be geographically close, but the truth is that they cannot feel any further away. The highly equipped national defence system ensures that this is always the case.
  32. Future-oriented: Dubai is a city that constantly looks to the future. With projects such as the Smart City initiative and the vision of Mars 2117, the city shows its determination to be at the forefront of global development. Dubai is investing heavily in research and development of new technologies to shape a sustainable and innovative future. While some cities are ‘ageing’, Dubai is rejuvenating —or at least trying hard to do so. Even if you visit the city several times a year, you will always have something new to discover.
  33. Ambition and daring: Dubai epitomises the spirit of ambition and daring. It is a city that is not afraid to break new ground, whether it be innovative construction projects, pioneering technological developments or bold cultural initiatives, and this spirit is passed on to its residents. Dubai is home to optimists who want to escape the decadence of the Western world.

In this city, the sun shines all year round and provides a constant sense of warmth and joie de vivre. The economy is not only strong, but also stable, creating a safe environment for business and investment. Education is also a priority that Dubai more than guarantees, with high quality schools and the option of homeschooling, all of which offer parents fantastic flexibility.

Dubai is a hotspot for entrepreneurs and business people from all over the world, not least because of the ease of setting up a business. The available workforce reflects a melting pot of cultures, a multicultural mix that offers a global perspective and diverse approaches to business.

Career development opportunities are just around the corner: the city is a springboard for your career, offering countless opportunities for personal and professional development.

As far as women’s freedom and rights are concerned, there is no oppression in Dubai —far from it. Non-religious women are not obliged to wear traditional clothes, there are no restrictions or prohibitions on dress or style: you can be yourself with nothing to hide. The only place where women are expected to cover up a little more skin (by which I mean wearing long trousers and long-sleeved shirts) is in official government offices —for example, when applying for a visa or registering a car in your name. Domestic partners can sleep together and share housing without fear of legal consequences, and the consumption and purchase of alcohol is allowed. Everything is ‘normal’ here, and lifestyles that do not disturb others are acceptable in Dubai: people here are friendly, nice, polite, and decent. It was not always like this, but now almost all the previously controversial points are not only decriminalised, but deliberately legalised.

What I like least

Of course, like any other city, there are some negative aspects of Dubai that should not be overlooked:

  • Indirect taxes: although Dubai does not levy any direct taxes, there are numerous indirect taxes, or rather fees. There is a small fee for almost every service or activity: there are fees for issuing or renewing visas, municipal fees depending on the amount of rent, etc. Of course, do not forget the 5% sales tax that applies in all GCC countries since 2018, as well as the new 9% corporate tax, which only applies above generous turnover and profit thresholds —you will be tax-free if your turnover stays below around €260,000.
  • VPN and WhatsApp calls: VoIP (voice over IP) services, such as WhatsApp calls, are blocked in the UAE. Zoom, Google Meets and Microsoft Teams are allowed. Therefore, many people use VPNs to bypass these restrictions. While this works well, you should be aware that it is prohibited to use this technology here.
  • Sex toys and OnlyFans: The sale and possession of sex toys is prohibited by law in Dubai. Similarly, access to websites and platforms that could be considered offensive (such as OnlyFan) are restricted or blocked. Ironically, however, Dubai is full of escorts and models.
  • Homosexuality: In theory, homosexuality is illegal in Dubai. In practice, however, there is a vibrant LGBT community that is not persecuted as long as it remains private and does not come out publicly.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol cannot be bought in supermarkets as normal, as in other countries, but only in special shops for which a licence is required if you are a resident. For some years now, however, you can get this licence in a matter of minutes. Only hotels and restaurants in certain areas (such as Bluewaters Island, for example) can continue to serve alcohol. Nevertheless, you can find just about anything in these areas —and, in fact, they offer some of the best cocktail bars in the world.
  • Dubai is a car-friendly city: while taxis are cheap, getting around on foot is not an option most of the time, as the city is immense. However, apps such as Uber, Careem and others make it easy for those without a car to get around.
  • Heavy traffic: this problem is fairly self-explanatory, although it can be alleviated to a large extent by choosing an optimal location and avoiding rush hour.
  • Drone ban: The use of drones is strictly regulated in Dubai. It is forbidden to fly drones without proper authorisation. On the other hand, air taxis are planned to take off in Dubai from 2025, and drones are already being tested for parcel delivery.
  • Casinos and gambling are also banned (for now), although the situation is now beginning to change in Ras Al Khaimah… and rumour has it that slot machines are now available in the basements of Bluewater Island hotels.
  • Censorship: The government exercises some control over media content.
  • Debt: I cannot really say whether this is an advantage or a disadvantage, but in the end I have put it on this list. If you live beyond your means, you will not last long in Dubai. The legislation is very creditor-friendly, and even failed direct debits can get you into trouble: although it no longer leads directly to jail, you will need to keep a close eye on your local financial affairs to avoid potential problems. If you are investing in real estate for rental purposes or if you offer your services to clients in Dubai, this will certainly be to your advantage.

For devout Muslims, Dubai is a veritable hellhole of depravity. It neighbours Sharjah, where you could not even walk outside in shorts, where alcohol is completely banned and there is a great respect for traditional Islamic customs. However, the proximity to Dubai and the considerably lower housing prices make it an attractive destination for many.

External factors: security and health

Yes, the world outside Dubai seems to be getting worse: we are in a period of volatility that is unprecedented for a long time, we are suffering a global economic recession, we are seeing higher interest rates for longer, historic sell-offs in the bond market, continued inflation, supply chain bottlenecks and resource constraints, climate change, slowdown in China, Bank of Japan policy, rising oil prices, problems in emerging markets, weakening Western economies, the woke culture, unsustainable public debt, the blatant trend towards higher tax rates, increasing government control, lack of privacy, isolation, government-issued digital currencies (CBDC), volatile financial markets, revolutionary AI meddling, increasing control in general, growing waves of migration and, last but not least, the ravages of wars and more wars. I refer to the imminent threat of a third world war, the conflicts between Russia, Ukraine and the United States, NATO and Russia, the conflict in Palestine between Israel and Hamas, China and Taiwan, West versus East, the Lebanon-Hezbollah conflict, Yemen, Ethiopia-Eritrea….

Dubai is a complete haven, a resilient and peaceful oasis offering comprehensive protection from all forms of violence: spiritual, psychological, public, physical, aggressive, financial… you name it!

People fight for more freedom, health, and security. People and capital migrate, and migrate to the UAE: wealthy refugees, families, passive investors, business owners, large banks and hedge funds, retirees, freelancers, remote workers, and businesses (both small and large) move to Dubai.

The future

Dubai is itself a great place to spend time and enjoy life, as well as a global centre of interest with one of the largest economies. Dubai aims to become one of the most liveable cities by 2040. According to the government itself, “the key objectives of the Dubai Urban Master Plan 2040 are to modernise Dubai’s urban areas, improve resource efficiency, develop more vibrant, healthy and inclusive communities, and double the amount of green and recreational spaces”. They also aim to create a healthy environment for residents and tourists, and provide sustainable and flexible means of mobility.

The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan pursues several key objectives to make Dubai’s urban development future-oriented, including the following:

  • Doubling green and recreational spaces.
  • To make nature reserves and rural areas account for 60% of the total land area of the emirate.
  • Establish several green corridors to connect service, residential and work areas.
  • Promote the use of footpaths, bicycles, and sustainable means of mobility.
  • Increase the area for hotels and tourism activities by 134%, and expand the area for commercial activities to 168 square kilometres.
  • Increase the area for education and health facilities by 25%.
  • Extend public beaches by 400%.

The Urban Master Plan aims to encourage the use of public transport and both walking and cycling, and to develop a comprehensive planning database to support decision-making and increase transparency.

There are other, bolder projects, such as the Dubai Reef, the Dubai Loop and the Dubai Healthcare City, among many others.

According to the Khaleej Times, “the UAE has invested more than $40 billion in clean energy over the past 15 years, and plans to invest another $163.5 billion in clean and renewable energy sources over the next three decades as it moves towards carbon neutrality”.

The difference in the energy transition compared to Europe (especially central and northern Europe) is that Dubai has the sun shining, the right intensity and attracts foreign investment rather than promising things to win votes and then leaving the citizens to pay the price.

This even helps to revitalise other emirates: Dubai serves as a gateway to lesser known or explored markets in Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and even other GCC countries, such as Saudi Arabia (with projects like the Neom, Mukaab/Cube and so on) or Qatar (which is also vying for international recognition).

According to The Banker, Dubai’s status as a booming financial and digital business hub is in line with the government’s ambitious digital economy strategy, launched in 2022, which aims to double the contribution of the digital economy to the UAE’s GDP —from 9.7% in 2022 to 19.4% over the next 10 years. Its strategy emphasises breakthroughs in digital infrastructure, promotes new high-performance sectors (such as artificial intelligence) and aims to increase technical skills and expertise across the country.

The main criticisms of Dubai

If you are looking for information about Dubai, you are bound to come across some of the opinions below.

Dubai is a city without a cultural identity

  • Reality: Dubai’s culture is a rich tapestry woven from its Bedouin roots, Islamic traditions, and diverse expatriate population. The city celebrates both its traditional heritage and the global perspective brought by its international residents.
  • Cultural events and institutions: Dubai hosts numerous cultural festivals (the Dubai Shopping Festival, the Dubai Jazz Festival…) and is home to institutions such as the Dubai Opera and the Etihad Museum, which celebrate local and international art. World-class artists are invited to this great city day in and day out.
  • Cuisine: Emirati cuisine is a blend of Middle Eastern and Asian influences. Restaurants serving traditional dishes such as harees and machboos, as well as street food, reflect the city’s cultural diversity.
  • Art and architecture: The city’s art scene is vibrant, with galleries such as Alserkal Avenue showcasing contemporary art. The traditional architecture of neighbourhoods such as Al Bastakiya contrasts with modern skyscrapers, conveying a fascinating sense of a mix of old and new.

Dubai has no history

  • Historical background: Although modern Dubai looks like a new city that has sprung up out of nowhere, its history dates back to the third millennium BC. The area around Dubai Creek was a small fishing and pearling port, an integral part of the economy before the oil boom. There are still many interesting places to visit that retain this age-old charm.
  • Archaeological sites: Sites such as Jumeirah and Al Qusais provide information on ancient settlements and trade links with civilisations such as the Mesopotamians.
  • Museums and cultural attractions: Dubai’s museum at Al Fahidi Fort showcases the city’s local history. The cultural villages and traditional dhow dockyards you can visit in Al Jaddaf illustrate Dubai’s maritime heritage.

Dubai has no nature

  • Desert landscape: The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is a testament to the conservation of the desert’s natural habitat. Here you can experience the original desert ecosystem, including indigenous species such as the Arabian oryx. For the more adventurous, the numerous dunes can also be explored by jeep or buggy.
  • Mountain and coastal ecosystems: The Hatta region offers a mountainous landscape with opportunities for hiking and kayaking. Dubai’s coastline includes natural mangroves and coral reefs, crucial for marine biodiversity. Water sports enthusiasts will find their dream destination here.
  • Parks and gardens: The Dubai Miracle Garden (the world’s largest natural flower garden) and Safa Park (an urban green space) showcase efforts to integrate natural elements into the city. In the Al Barari neighbourhood, residents can enjoy dozens of kilometres of paths in stunning green spaces. It is only when you reach the higher elevations that you realise that you are still in the desert.

Everything in Dubai is artificial

Well, for starters, what is your definition of artificial: artificial meaning man-made and not naturally occurring? If we go by this definition, I am afraid everything around us is artificial to some extent. Your floor wherever you live is completely artificial, since it did not come from the erosion of the sea or grow like a tree from the ground. Your make-up is also artificial, as is your clothes, your furniture, the bread you eat every day… I hope I have made my point.

Dubai has no soul

I really do not know how anyone could come up with such a statement. What exactly does it mean for a city to ‘have a soul’? If there is a city with a soul, it would be Dubai, as reflected in its incredible diversity! Dubai is a melting pot of nationalities, languages, and cultures, with people from more than 200 nations living side by side to create a vibrant, multicultural community. This diversity is celebrated through a variety of cultural, gastronomic, and musical festivals that reflect the global character of the city.

And if we talk about the soul that moves us to want to grow, to want to be better, the soul that makes children look forward to life’s challenges and want to dress up as Buzz Lightyear to fly to the stars, to infinity and beyond; how can anyone say that a city like Dubai has no soul when it shines with fire in its eyes to evolve day by day and become the best place to live in the world? People feel at home and want to stay and live, and all countries recognise Dubai’s relentless efforts to improve.

Dubai’s soul is also reflected in its ambition, innovation, and drive to provide quality of life, security, and opportunity for all who live in or visit the city.

Dubai is too hot

Yes, and Germany is TOO cold, so what?

Sure, it is hot in summer, and the region’s high humidity does not improve the situation, but it is not the end of the world either. You just have to accept that you will be staying at home for a few more months and that you will need to install air conditioning, just as in most European countries you need radiators, underfloor heating, heated seats, hand warmers, hot water bottles… for months on end. And that is not to mention the need to wear layers and layers of clothes to go outside, until you look like an onion, as well as scarves, gloves, waterproof boots, umbrellas… I get cold just thinking about it. The funny thing is that in Europe people do not complain so much about the weather —perhaps because they are used to relying on heating to keep them comfortable, whereas relying on air conditioning is inconceivable to them.

Be that as it may, as in southern Spain and other countries with extreme climates, you can always decide to go on holiday in another country during the season you prefer to avoid. Dubai also makes it easier to save for your holiday, as you will not pay tax on your income (unlike in Spain).

Dubai is too expensive

Actually, this criticism depends very much on which destination you compare it to. According to Numbeo, to have the same standard of living as in several German cities, you need the following amounts of money in Dubai (assuming you live in rented accommodation in both cities):

  • Munich: to maintain the same standard of living equivalent to €5,100 in Munich, you need €5,435.50 (AED 21,776.10) in Dubai.
  • Frankfurt: To maintain the same standard of living equivalent to €4,500 in Frankfurt, you need €5,397.60 (AED 21,624.20) in Dubai.
  • Berlin: To maintain the same standard of living equivalent to €4,900 in Berlin, you need €5,422.90 (AED 21,725.70) in Dubai.
  • Hamburg: to maintain the same standard of living equivalent to €4,700 in Hamburg, you need €5,334.60 (AED 21,371.90) in Dubai.
  • Düsseldorf: to maintain the same standard of living equivalent to €4,600 in Düsseldorf, you need €5,370.50 (AED 21,515.60) in Dubai.
  • Stuttgart: to maintain the same standard of living equivalent to €4,200 in Stuttgart, you need €5,394.20 (AED 21,610.50) in Dubai.
  • Cologne: To maintain the same standard of living equivalent to €4,200 in Cologne, you need €5,585.30 (AED 21,574.90) in Dubai.
  • Dresden: to maintain the same standard of living equivalent to €3,900 in Dresden, you need €5,411.90 (AED 21,681.30) in Dubai.

Is it more expensive? Yes, if you think about it purely mathematically and just look at the numbers, yes; but is it really more expensive? In no German city can you experience life like in Dubai, neither in size nor in possibilities. Berlin may come close, but it still loses out significantly in terms of security. The cost of living in smaller cities, in rural areas, in destinations that offer a simpler and quieter lifestyle (such as Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia) do not fit this comparison —because you can always live cheaper and with less comfort, even in Dubai. Now, to maintain a standard of living of €4,500 or more (assuming you spend your entire salary and save nothing), you would have to earn €9,000 in Germany (or in any other country that steals half your salary with its taxes). And how many people actually earn that in Germany? Contrary to what happens in Germany (or many other countries for this matter), €9,000 gross in Dubai equals €9,000 net, (not €4,500).

The moral of the story is this: those who actually live in Germany pay a high price, finance the expenses of the government and the state, and also have to put up with the damned cold and the bad mood of the people there for long months, without benefiting from any of the advantages Dubai has to offer.

Dubai is only for the rich

Although Dubai is known for its luxury and extravagance, the city offers a wide range of options for all budgets. There are residential areas even for the city’s large middle class. In addition, the cost of living in Dubai varies widely, allowing people of different incomes to live and work in the city. A large part of the population in lower-level service professions does not earn €1,000 per month and yet enjoys life in Dubai, because it is still much better than in their home countries.

The rich do not come to Dubai because it is expensive and offers great luxuries: the main reason is almost always personal security. Here, even billionaires can move freely without bodyguards, something inconceivable in today’s Europe (let alone America).

Dubai is an example of modern-day slavery exploiting poor labour

Many migrant workers come from countries with few economic opportunities (such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Africa, etc.) and often find higher wages and better job opportunities in Dubai than in their home countries. In Dubai, they often find higher wages and better job opportunities than in their home countries, and this economic incentive is an important factor in their decision to work in Dubai. These workers often send a significant portion of their earnings back to their families, and indeed, this money is a crucial source of income for many of these families.

Would it be better for them to remain in an (even) more miserable situation in their home country and not be able to support their families?

Make no mistake: Dubai is not the villain in this story, as it is in fact heavily dependent on this labour. The villains are the governments that are bankrupting poorer countries to the point where the locals are forced to emigrate and seek their fortune elsewhere. These migrants submit to whatever conditions the countries they migrate to impose —and when the conditions are as good as those in Dubai, they feel no need to return home.

At least, Dubai allows them to earn more money and enrol their children in the city’s schools so that they can find better living conditions than those offered in their home countries, leading to slow and gradual socio-economic change.

All these misconceptions and prejudices tend to come from people who have either never been to Dubai and simply parrot what they hear without critical thinking, or who equate and confuse Dubai with other countries in the region that deserve all sorts of criticism and condemnation.


As you can see, it is impossible today not to recognise the greatness of Dubai and its tremendous potential for the future. It is undeniable that Dubai has evolved from the pure dust of insignificant desert sands to today’s most attractive metropolis in a span of only about 50 years.

Dubai is a great place to live, to base yourself or simply to spend time and enjoy. That is why we have published this post, so that all our readers know about it and can see for themselves. Of course, also as inspiration for all those who want to stop paying half (or more) of what they earn in taxes, and for those who want to live in an amazing city that has everything for everyone.

Dubai is well on its way to becoming a global model of sustainable development and a driver of innovative technologies, and the quality of life it offers stands out among all its virtues.

Naturally, you can count on us to help you plan your departure and take your first steps in Dubai: as always, we are your reliable partner even in the desert metropolis.

Whether you want to live here permanently or prefer to establish a base, whether you need a residence on paper to facilitate access to banking institutions or whether you want a plan B in the face of the disastrous situation in Europe and America; Dubai is the right destination for you. For less than €10,000 a year you can get a permanent visa for you and your family —you can renew this visa at any time and it only requires you to enter the country once every 180 days.

Dubai can also be a great option as a second home for those who are still ‘stuck’ in the system, financial privacy included. The fact that accounts are only available to residents also means that there is no exchange of information.

And if you fear future tax reforms, such as the new corporate tax that now requires you to keep accounts, simply avoid local tax residency. With a stay of less than 90 days and no property or long-term rentals in your name, you can take advantage of the many opportunities Dubai offers without running the risk of becoming a tax resident here.

However, you are only liable to pay tax in Dubai if you exceed the broad exemption limit of AED 1 million turnover or AED 375,000 profit. I guarantee that you can live perfectly well in Dubai with much less than that. Moreover, instead of a company in a free zone, you can still operate tax and accounting free with a USA LLC… even with a high turnover: if in the worst case scenario you are charged with a tax residency, you can always resort to a trustee manager. By the way, USA business accounts and Dubai private accounts harmonise perfectly!

And if you do not want to have a company, you can also obtain a visa with a real estate investment: from a value of 2 million AED, you can even obtain a Golden Visa, which exempts you from the regular entry requirement —and is valid for 10 years. Here, too, we and our real estate contacts can provide you with the best possible assistance. The city is also particularly interesting as an investment location.

Whatever you want to do in Dubai or the United Arab Emirates, I invite you to contact us. has excellent local contacts who will not leave you wandering alone in the desert.

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