Getting sick of the 9-to-5 grind at home? Here’s the good news: there are countries all over the world that offer digital nomad visas, including the United Arab Emirates. The Dubai digital nomad visa is a chance for online and remote workers to jump onto a plane and explore a city with a stunning skyline and a multicultural society. While you may have heard of digital nomad visa opportunities in countries like Portugal and Colombia, here’s a lesser-known one that you might want to get to know!
Here’s everything you need to know about the Dubai (UAE) digital nomad visa. We will cover everything you need to know about the visa in detail while also giving you the must-know information regarding the cost of living, how to find accommodation, the best coworking spaces, and more!
Does Dubai Have a Digital Nomad Visa?
Yes, absolutely! Dubai has a digital nomad visa you can apply for right now. Released in 2021, the Dubai digital nomad visa is also called the Work Remotely from Dubai program or Dubai’s virtual working program. Note that this visa has slightly different requirements from the more general UAE virtual work residency visa, which we’ll get into below.
For now, here’s a brief look at everything you should know about the Dubai digital nomad visa:
- You pay ZERO tax. Yep, you read that right! You won’t need to pay any taxes as a digital nomad in Dubai (besides what you owe at home, of course!).
- The cost to apply for a Dubai digital nomad visa is USD $611.
- The Dubai digital nomad visa lasts one year, but there is a possibility to reapply.
- As a digital nomad visa holder in Dubai, you will have a resident ID that gives you access to most public services and facilities, such as the ability to rent, open bank accounts, enroll your kids in local schools, and even apply for loans.
- The Dubai digital nomad visa is a multiple entry visa, but if you leave the country for more than 6 months continuously, your visa will be voided.
Dubai Digital Nomad Visa
Dubai has been a popular tourist destination for years, and if you’ve ever wondered what it may be like to live here for some time, the Dubai digital nomad is for you. While the new income requirements may automatically rule out some digital nomads, that’s probably a good thing, as Dubai is by no means the cheapest place to visit, let alone live in!
Dubai Digital Nomad Visa Requirements
- You must have a valid passport that does not expire for another 6 months.
- You must have a minimum salary of at least USD $5,000 a month.
- You must be an employee or business owner who works remotely for a non UAE-based company.
- You must have valid health insurance that covers you during your stay in the UAE.
- You must pay the application fee for you and each of your family members, if applicable.
Who Can Apply for the Dubai Digital Nomad Visa?
As long as you meet the requirements listed above, you can apply for the Dubai digital nomad visa. There are no restrictions on nationalities, but with that said, immigration may still reject applicants for national security reasons. The most important requirement to keep in mind is the minimum income requirement. So, as long as you earn at least USD $5,000 a month and do no work for or own a company based in the UAE, you’re golden!
Documents Needed to Apply for the Dubai Digital Nomad Visa
- Passport with minimum 6 months validity
- Completed application
- Health insurance with UAE coverage
- (If employee) Proof of employment with one-year contract validity, a minimum monthly salary of USD $5,000 per month, plus paychecks of the last three months
- (If business owner) Proof of business ownership for one year or more, a minimum monthly salary of $5,000 per month, plus bank statements of the past three months
- Proof of work outside of the UAE and that the work is done remotely
- (For family members) Health insurance, passport, and application fee paid for each family member
How to Apply for the Dubai Digital Nomad Visa
Step One: Get Your Documents Ready
Make sure you meet the requirements and have all the necessary documents ready on hand before you get started with the application process.
Step Two: Fill Out the Form
Register on the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai portal and fill out the application form. Make sure you write the correct information for your contact details, as they will use that information to contact you.
Step Three: Submit the Documents
At this point, you will also submit all the required documents, including a scanned copy of your passport and proof of income. You will pay the visa fee of $611 as well.
Step Four: Wait for Approval
After submitting your application, you will receive an email or call when your application is approved. The application can take anywhere between one and two weeks to process.
Step Five: Go to Dubai
Congratulations, your visa has been approved! Now, you can travel to Dubai with your digital nomad visa.
Step Six: Undergo a Medical Check
Once you arrive, you have a month to undergo a medical check. We recommend organizing this before you arrive in Dubai to ensure you are on top of things.
This medical check will involve a blood test and a chest x-ray. Results will be available anywhere between 24 hours and two weeks.
Step Seven: Get Biometrics Done
After you receive your medical results, a representative will give you a list of offices where you can get your biometrics done.
Step Eight: Get Your Residency Card
You will receive notice from the government regarding where you can pick up your approved residency card, also known as Emirates ID. The Emirates ID card is generally ready around 2 weeks after receiving your medical check results.
Applying for the Digital Nomad Visa When You Are Already in Dubai
While applying for the Dubai digital nomad visa is a pretty seamless process, you can make your life even easier if you apply for the visa when you’re already in the country.
To do this, you’ll need to apply for an entry permit. Once approved, you can apply for a status change at the nearest AMER center to change the entry permit to a Dubai digital nomad visa directly. Yep! It’s as simple as that.
After the status change, you must still follow steps six to eight above.
Extending the Dubai Digital Nomad Visa
While there is no option to extend the Dubai digital nomad visa, there is an option to apply for one again if you’d like to stay in Dubai for longer than a year.
Cost of Dubai Digital Nomad Visa
The Dubai digital nomad visa costs $611, which includes the price of the application fee, processing fees, and the cost of the Emirates ID.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Digital Nomad Visa in Dubai?
The processing time for the Dubai digital nomad visa can vary, depending on a number of factors. For example, you can expect some delay if you miss some documents and need to submit some more later on during your application process. But in general, expect the entire process from start to finish to take anywhere between one and three months.
This includes around 1 to 2 weeks for the application to be approved, the health check-up, getting biometrics done, and getting the Emirates ID.
Alternatives to the Digital Nomad Visa in Dubai
Dubai Golden Visa
If, for whatever reason, you are not eligible for the Dubai digital nomad visa, you can apply for the Dubai golden visa instead. This visa is intended for foreigners who can invest a significant amount of money in Dubai as an investor or entrepreneur. While requirements differ according to the type of visa you are applying for, the golden visa allows foreigners to live, work, and/or study in the UAE for 5 or 10 years. You can find the requirements here.
Digital Nomad Visa in Abu Dhabi
Most digital nomads traveling to the UAE likely want to live in Dubai. However, for the few who want to explore other parts of the United Arab Emirates, you can apply for a more general remote work visa. This visa is for you if you want to live anywhere but Dubai, including Abu Dhabi.
The application process is the same as for the Dubai digital nomad visa. However, there’s just one minuscule (or rather, not so minuscule) difference in terms of the requirements. For the Abu Dhabi or UAE digital nomad visa, you only need to prove a salary of USD $3,500 a month. This is a stark contrast compared to the USD $5,000 a month required by Dubai.
Can You Live in Dubai as a Digital Nomad on a Tourist Visa?
According to the UAE official website, you cannot work remotely in Dubai while on a visit or tourist visa. In order to work and live in Dubai, you must obtain the correct work or residency permit. If caught working without the proper visa status, this can spell some trouble for you!
It’s important to note that while many digital nomads may hop around the globe without applying for digital nomad visas, in most countries (including the UAE), working while on a tourist visa is illegal.
Tax Requirements for Digital Nomads in Dubai (UAE)
Arguably, the biggest advantage of living in Dubai as a digital nomad is that the country is a tax haven. This means that the UAE will not tax you on any of your income. Any digital nomad knows that this is a huge weight off of your shoulders, as international tax laws can be a nightmare to navigate.
Keep in mind just because you won’t have to pay taxes in Dubai does not mean you are off the hook for paying taxes. Generally, your home country will still want you to pay taxes, especially if you are paying zero tax as a tax resident in Dubai.
We highly recommend contacting a tax professional with experience in expat taxes to ensure you stay compliant and avoid any hefty fines!
Is Dubai (UAE) a Good Place for Digital Nomads?
This modern city is a mecca for many digital nomads. After all, there are more expats than locals in the city, making it one of the most unique digital nomad cities in the world. Here are a few pros and cons of living in Dubai as a digital nomad.
|Massive expat community. 85% of Dubai’s population is comprised of expats, making it a melting pot and an excellent place to live as a foreigner.
|Can get extremely hot. Summer in Dubai is extreme and is easily the worst time to visit the city. In fact, the highs can reach up to 120°F (49°C). Now, that is HOT!!
|Tax haven. As mentioned above, Dubai and the UAE do not have any income tax requirements. So, you will pay zero tax to the UAE while living here.
|Strict religious laws. The UAE is officially a Muslim country that has strict laws and customs surrounding homosexuality, women’s rights, public displays of affection, and more.
|Amazing infrastructure and entertainment. It should come as no surprise that Dubai has good infrastructure. The city is extremely cosmopolitan and modern. In fact, Dubai has the 4th most skyscrapers out of anywhere in the world!
|High cost of living. Dubai is undoubtedly an expensive place to live. Digital nomads will need to have higher budgets than most other destinations, and things like rent, entertainment, groceries, and transportation are pricy.
|Warm weather all year. Dubai is located in the middle of the Arabian desert, so it has hot and dry weather all year. The temperature rarely drops below 55°F (13°C).
|Surveillance and censorship. The UAE has questionable laws on censorship and surveillance that have only gotten worse in recent years.
Is Dubai Safe for Digital Nomads?
For most digital nomads, Dubai is a safe destination. In fact, Dubai is one of the safest destinations for digital nomads to travel and temporarily live in. While the UAE does have stricter laws that penalize things you aren’t used to, such as PDA, they have stricter laws in general, which means crime is kept to a minimum.
As a result, many tourists and digital nomads feel much safer in Dubai than they do in other areas of the world. Dubai is also heavily monitored, so you’re not likely to become a victim of a crime. In fact, according to Numbeo, Dubai is considered the 7th safest city in the world.
Unfortunately, one major thing to keep in mind is that homosexuality is illegal in the UAE. So, if you are a member of the LGBTQ community, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere for your digital nomad adventures.
Best Places in Dubai for Digital Nomads
While Dubai is just one city, there are plenty of different neighborhoods that cater to different budgets and preferences. Here are a few of the best places to live in Dubai.
Deira is in the heart of Dubai and is a popular area for expats and digital nomads. This area is the oldest part of Dubai, dating back to the 1700s. Deira has a local charm and much lower prices than other popular parts of the city. Deira also has excellent public transportation and metro connections to other areas of the city.
Another relatively affordable area of Dubai that is popular for digital nomads is Mirdif. Situated on the other side of the airport, Mirdif is a bit far away from the rest of the city, but you can get downtown in just 15 to 20 minutes by car. Unfortunately, there are not any train connections. Mirdif is most popular with those who want cheaper accommodation options.
The most expensive area of Dubai to live in is downtown. This area offers everything you could possibly need as a digital nomad, from apartments to bars, coworking spaces, restaurants, gyms, and much more! The biggest pro of living in downtown Dubai is that you are right in the middle of all the action! On the other hand, it is costly, so you’ll want to look elsewhere if you are on a tighter budget.
The Dubai Marina is a beautiful area located right next to the sea. If you choose to live in this area, you’ll be close to tons of malls, restaurants, bars, and gyms, but the area is definitely less hectic than downtown. That is not to say that the area isn’t busy, as the Dubai Marina can experience heavy traffic and gets very noisy during peak times. You’ll also be able to find accommodation in a mix of price ranges in the Marina, so whether you have a medium budget or are prepared to ball out on a fancy apartment, you’ll find plenty of options here.
Cost of Living in Dubai for Digital Nomads
It’ll come as no surprise to know that Dubai is not one of the cheaper digital nomad destinations. In fact, for this reason, many digital nomads will cross Dubai off their list. So, exactly how much should you budget for living in Dubai? To help you get to a proper number, let’s go over how much accommodation and food costs in Dubai.
In terms of accommodation, expect to shell out around USD $1,000 to $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city. For groceries, it’d be best to budget around AED 1,000 a month, which equates to around USD $273.
Lunch in a casual restaurant will set you back around AED 30 to 80 or USD $8 to $22. Dinner in a mid-range restaurant will cost AED 50 to AED 150 (USD $14 to $41), and dinner in a high-end restaurant can cost up to AED 500 to 800 (USD $136 to $218)!
Healthcare in Dubai, UAE, for Digital Nomads
To become a digital nomad in Dubai, you will need health insurance that covers you for the duration of your stay. Here’s our list of the 10 best digital nomad insurance options if you’re not sure what to get. So, in the case of an emergency, you should be covered at any rate. This is good because most medical providers won’t provide care unless you can provide proof of insurance. As a digital nomad with no health card, you will be expected to pay for both public and private healthcare – no matter which one you choose.
If you find yourself in a pinch and need medical care, don’t worry. The private facilities in Dubai were made with tourists and expats in mind. So, you’ll be able to find English-speaking doctors with no issues. The hospitals are well-equipped to coordinate with your insurance company as well.
Best Coworking Spaces in Dubai
While not all digital nomads require a coworking space, for those who do, here are some of the best coworking spaces in Dubai.
- Astrolabs – AED 1,500 AED (USD $410) per month for 24/7 access. Includes high-speed internet, library and lounge areas, printers, access to metros, office supplies, and meeting rooms.
- The Bureau – AED 120 (USD $33) per day, AED 1,200 (USD $330) per month, AED 950 (USD $260) per month for an annual membership, or AED 9,120 (USD $2,480) lump sum for an annual membership. Designed by women for women.
- Nook Coworking – AED 80 (USD $22) per day, AED 300 (USD $82) per week, or AED 1,000 (USD $272) per month. Has high-speed internet, car parking, refreshments, printing, spaces, and lockers.
- DQuarters – AED 1,000 (USD $272) a month. 24/7 access, shared desk, meeting rooms, high-speed wifi, printers, parking, pantry, gaming room, and prayer rooms.
How to Find a Place to Live in Dubai
When you first get to Dubai, one of the first things you’ll do is find a place to live. Finding an apartment in Dubai is not as difficult as it is in many other digital nomad destinations. The widespread use of English and the city’s familiarity with expats and foreigners is a huge help. But before you jump into the fray and look for a place to stay, you should get an idea of what to look for.
- Internet speeds: First things first, if the internet is included in the rent, ensure the apartment has a strong internet connection. Dubai has strong internet overall, but it’s worth testing the speeds beforehand for download and upload speeds.
- Calculating your budget: Besides simply looking at the amount you’ll be paying for rent, keep in mind there will be other fees and deposits you’ll need to pay, such as any agency fees, security deposits, DEWA deposits, and other housing fees.
- Furnishings: If you are coming to Dubai on a digital nomad visa, you will probably be staying in the city for less than a year, in which case buying furniture is not feasible. In this case, you should narrow your searches down to furnished apartments only. Also, make sure to check out the furniture beforehand, as the furniture may not always match the quality shown in the photos online!
- Building facilities: The apartment listing may mention a pool or a gym. In that case, check out the facilities beforehand. Also, ask about parking if that’s important for you. Check for any security and CCTV cameras as well as other security features.
Where to Find Apartments in Dubai
So, now that you know what to find, where can you find an apartment to live in in Dubai? There are a few different methods.
Join Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are a great way to find accommodation in places around the world, including in Dubai. Check out these groups to find some deals:
- Apartment For Rent In Dubai / UAE
- Dubai Cheap apartment for Rent.
- Dubai Apartments for Rent & Sale. NO partitions, NO movers, No offers
- Dubai property and Rooms for Rent/Sale
Word of Mouth
If you know anybody already living in Dubai, reach out to your contacts and ask if they know of any spare apartments in their building. Perhaps they can also reach out to their landlord, or they may know someone who’s looking for a tenant to fill their apartment! Word of mouth can go a long way when going apartment-hunting. You may be able to find the best deals this way.
Rental Listing Sites in Dubai
If you’d rather go the traditional route, here are some rental listing sites you should check out to find apartment listings in Dubai:
Travel Accommodation Sites
While we don’t generally advertise staying in travel accommodations as digital nomads, these travel accommodation sites can be a great option when arriving in Dubai. After all, it’s always a good idea to look at potential apartment options in person so you can stay in these while you hunt for the perfect apartment.
Ready to Be a Digital Nomad in Dubai?
So, are you ready to take the plunge and get on that flight to Dubai? The United Arab Emirates may not be the first destination that comes to mind for many digital nomads, but it can be an exciting place to get to know, with many expats and digital nomads already calling places like Dubai home – no matter how temporary!
There are many other digital nomad visas you can apply for, including in countries like Spain, Croatia, and Estonia. And if you’re just starting out, check out our lists of the best beginner digital nomad jobs and 60+ essential items to pack!