The number of people interested in visiting, living and working in Dubai keeps increasing every year. Dubai is a city of lights, magic and skyscrapers. 15.92 million people travelled to Dubai from around the world in 2018.
A ranking by US News and World Report puts Dubai as the tenth best destination in the world, and number one place to visit in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), thanks to its mega attractions, spectacular “Persian Gulf views” and adrenaline-pumping activities.
People come to Dubai for different reasons. Its a multi-cultural melting pot that’s not afraid of ambition and has through strategic leadership and deliberate investment positioned itself as a tourist mecca and business hub.
Nigerians love to visit Dubai often times taking weeks and sometimes months long holidays to explore the city and discover new opportunities. Nigerian students and professionals are also finding Dubai an interesting destination for education and career advancement.
Beyond tourism and most of the more publicized reasons Nigerians visit, live and work in Dubai, we look at reasons Nigerians have fallen in love with Dubai;
1. Ease of entry: Dubai is one of the easiest countries to enter especially for short stay visas. The visa is affordable and with the right visa partner you can get it in 24-72 hours whether its a week, a month or a 3 months visa. The average Nigerian has a hard time getting visiting visas to the US, UK and Canada so it’s great and mighty convenient to find a country that is easy to access.
2. Cash is King: Dubai was created as a cash focused economy and welcomes as much cash as you can bring with fewer restrictions than any other country in the world. You can have access to whatever luxury you want if you are willing to pay for it. From education to recreation, you can get what you want in Dubai with minimal restrictions.
3. Immigration and Airport Quality: Dubai has one of the best airports in the world and every time you visit, there is something new. From a working in airport metro system that takes you wherever you want to one of the fastest and most automated immigration processes you will find, everything works fast here and one thing travelers can agree on is the less time spent at airports, the better. Luggage checks are largely automated and they have a proper luggage room that minimizes luggage loss. There are also multiple ways to exist the airport catering to different pocket sizes. From the metro/rail service to taxis to buses, there is a mode of transportation for everyone.
4. Electricity Supply: On my many trips to Dubai and the UAE, I have never experienced a power outage. With a combination of gas, nuclear, solar and other renewable forms of energy, there is constant electricity. Nigeria is a country still plagued by electricity problems for homes and businesses. Enjoying uninterrupted power supply is an alien concept for a lot of Nigerians so visiting Dubai and not having to deal with power outages feels a lot like you’re enjoying a slice of heaven.
According to the most recent stats available for electricity from the UAE government’s Department of Information, residents use about 550 litres of water and 20 to 30 kilowatt-hours of electricity a day and as the economy grows, the demand for energy is expected to increase by 9% annually. Electricity demand in the UAE had reached 105 billion kilowatt hours in 2013, placing the UAE among the highest electricity consumers per capita in the world. The demand for electric power was matched by an increase in the number of power plants and their installed capacities. The installed capacity of power plants had increased by 54% during 2007-2012. According to the WEF, the UAE ranks 20th in electricity supply globally. This will probably be a lot of higher if they were ranking Dubai alone.
5. Road, Waste and Other Infrastructure: From Dubai to Sharjah to Ajman, the UAE boasts of one of the best transportation infrastructures in the world and it continues to get better. In Dubai, you can use a taxi, bus, train and tram to get from one location to the other with each mode fitting different income brackets. For as low as AED 5 or N500, you can get from Dubai Marina to Alnahda 1 which is close to Sharjah. Imagine going from Victoria Island to Abeokuta by rail. Other cities outside Dubai mainly use buses and taxis. With your Nigerian drivers license or your international drivers license, you can also drive in Dubai for a certain period. That’s another plus.
6. Security: Dubai is one of the safest cities in the World. The UAE as a whole ranks highly in security around the world. I have personally experienced how safe the UAE is when I misplaced my bank cards and phone at the mall. The lady that found them went as far as looking for me on Facebook to return my items. It’s almost a novelty because in other places, even in other big cities around the world, those items are as good as gone.
The culture of the UAE and the idea that you are constantly being watched makes people of all nationalities try to behave better. In Nigeria where robberies and other incidents are at an all time high, Dubai’s attention to security is one of its most attractive features..
7. Trust in Politicians: The political system in Dubai and the UAE works. The UAE is a constitutional federation of seven emirates. The UAE was founded by H. H. late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first President of the UAE and Father of the Nation. Abu Dhabi city is the capital city and even though Arabic is the official language, English is widely spoken. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and ruler of Dubai. H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the President of the UAE. Even with the globally falling perception of the federation type of governance, the UAE ranks 2nd in trust in politicians and rulers according to the WEF.
8. Taxation: For Nigerians that want to work in Dubai, the UAE does not levy income tax on individuals. However, oil companies and branches of foreign banks are liable to pay taxes. In addition, the UAE levies 5 per cent Value Added Tax on the consumption or use of goods and services. So almost everything you do from transportation to food, drinks, etc have this VAT levied.
9. Education, Business, Workforce and Investment opportunities: It’s becoming increasingly attractive for Nigerian students to run undergraduate and postgraduate programs in the UAE. It’s also becoming easier to find short internationally recognized courses from global universities with UAE affiliates than most countries in the world.
From gold to great deals for used cars to mobile phones, tablets and laptops to perfumes, teas and many other things, the UAE has a lot of opportunities for people interested in business especially to export to their home countries. From Deira to Sharjah to Ajman, there are industrial areas where you will find unbelievable deals and even though import and clearing duties in Nigeria are high, some of the deals are so good that you will still make a healthy profit.
Foreigners comprise 95 per cent of the UAE’s workforce with the largest communities coming from South Asia. Nigerians are not high on the pecking order for employment but opportunities abound nonetheless. Emirati citizens account for 60 percent of government sector jobs.
Investment opportunities are plenty in the UAE. Real Estate is one of the biggest opportunities with mega real estate companies like Emaar and Damac opening up new projects every week. It’s also an industry that has a lot of foreigner led scams so its important that opportunities are well verified. There are special status visas available for people that invest in real estate and other opportunities that the government recently opened up. We will talk a bit more about it soon.
One of the things NigeriansInDubai will do is demystify the education and labour requirements for Nigerians that are willing and able to tap into the opportunities.
10. Night life, concerts, beaches, hotels, shopping and other attractions: Dubai is a true tourist paradise. It is the 6th most visited city in the world with 15.8 million annual visitors. It hosts the world’s tallest building, the largest indoor theme park, the biggest shopping mall, some of the best hotels in the world and one of the most magnificent man-made islands in the world. The most visited places are Burj Al Arab, Dubai Museum, Dubai Mall, Palm Island and Ski Dubai. In addition to these locations, Nigerian tourists like to visit hjthe beach (JBR); Deira for deals; and Gold Souk.
Beyond business shopping, personal shopping is a big reason why Nigerians come to Dubai. With about 65 malls and more still springing up across Dubai, access to never ending deals and designer labels is a big attraction for Nigerians.
Please share your opinion and questions about Dubai in the comments section or with @NigeriansInDxb on social media.
We will do a series soon on a beginners guide to living, working and visiting Dubai.
Ifeanyi Abraham is a creative storyteller, life hacker and Digital Influencer.
He is a Public relations & Digital Marketing executive that helps companies, government agencies & NGOs leverage the power of marketing & communications.
He is the Founder of NigeriansinDubai.com, a knowledge sharing and transfer platform focused on harnessing the lessons, spirit and power of Dubai to the benefit of Nigerians. We tell the stories of Nigerians living, working and visiting Dubai.
He is also the Co-founder of The Beverage Room, a digital community for Beverage Lovers.