Planning To Live And Work In Dubai? 10 Important Things To Know Before Packing Your Bags

While Planning To Live And Work In Dubai, the best information I could get about a lot of things were from Quora, forums and websites focused on non-Nigerians. I wanted some deeper insight that could help me plan but beyond the forums and a few people I reached out to on social media, I couldn’t find a platform that was focused on Nigerians. A few weeks into arriving here, NigeriansInDubai.com was born.

This is my 3rd trip to Dubai, previous trips have been holiday packages with all my activities pre-planned. In planning for this trip I got exposed to a lot of fake agents

Nothing about this trip was properly planned, I didn’t have so much money but I had made my decision, picked my dates, got my visa and booked a one week stay in a hotel and said “see you soon” to my loved ones and boarded my flight to Dubai.

Read : Why Nigerians Love Dubai So Much

I wrote this post on my social media page about 3weeks- 1month after I got here but I have updated it a bit more and as a platform we will continue to write posts that give further insight to Nigerians that want to live and work in Dubai.

What opportunities are available for Nigerians in Dubai?

1. Business: Business is one of the easier opportunities here and a lot of Nigerians/Africans I have met are doing businesses in Dubai/UAE. The most common businesses are: exporting goods back to their home countries; visa processing; black market bureau de change; cosmetic dealers; herbal product re-sellers; gold merchants; personal shoppers for different type of goods; car dealers/agents; food sales; etc.

There are amazing deals on laptops, phones and a lot of electronic devices here so if that’s a line you are interested in and you know how to find a good deal, that’s very available. 

2. Skill Based Jobs: Myself and 3 other guys paid 210 Dhs, about NGN21,000.00 to a barber to have our haircut in my second week here. My most recent haircut cost 72 Dhs, about NGN7200. I shared my experience getting a Nigeria Standard Haircut in Dubai.

Talking to some Nigerian ladies, I find pricing similar for fixing weaves and other hair needs. Home service fixing with attachments cost between 240 Dhs and 700 Dhs. If you are good at barbing or hairdressing, there is an opportunity for that sort of skill here. Recently, I met a Nigerian student that sews and is making a lot of money from her sewing. Lots of opportunities if you are strategic. There is a formal and informal economy for skill based jobs that is thriving

3. Gold Retail: There are lots of opportunities here for gold re-sellers. Dubai has always been favoured for its exemption from taxes. It is one of the main reason why people chose to move to the city, as well as buy gold. Due to the exclusion of taxes in the Emirate, prices for gold in Dubai have always been cheaper as buyers would only pay for the value of the gold jewellery. I am still evaluating the market, but I have people that swear by it.

4. White Collar Jobs: Nigerians/Africans are generally not well positioned when it comes to getting jobs in Dubai and people I have spoken to have attributed to the level of education and confidence of a lot of people that apply. In some examples I have been told about, where a 30000 Dhs job, about NGN3 million job is available here, they will probably offer it to a Nigerian for 5000 Dhs, about NGN 500,000.00. The advantage you can have as a Nigerian/African is if you have a wall formatted Dubai standard resume, confident enough to wow them and speak of your value, well educated, speak Arabic or French; have a foreign degree or a British/American passport. These languages position you for amazing opportunities, especially for example in the communications/digital marketing world which is where I am positioned in.


Beyond the listed above, you will need to be extremely creative with how you position your skills in your resume here. You have to do a lot of research about the sort of roles available in your industry. For example; In human resources you might find it a bit difficult to get a direct role because your experience isn’t with Human Resource rules in Dubai or the GCC. However, looking at an area of Human Resources like “Learning and Development” positioning as a recruitment specialist might position you better in finding roles here. You also need multiple resume templates ready to apply for jobs as they come. There are also Dubai specific rules for resumes like having your picture and nationality on the resume. You might have applied for 10 jobs and not gotten a call back because your resume wasn’t formatted for Dubai standard. You can get a Dubai customized resume done for you for a fee by sending an email to Dubaijobpro@gmail.com with the title “Dubai Customized Resume from NigeriansInDubai” or you can search for templates online to use.

5. Investing: If you are a Nigerian with deep pockets, you can easily get an investor visa by investing in real estate or a startup in Dubai. Dubai is very friendly to people that bring money into the country and your opportunities skyrocket. HRH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai announced a permanent residency opportunity that allows investors and expats to look at Dubai as a home rather than a temporary plan.

Dubai is a city that is still on the rise and you are guaranteed to continue getting dividends for your investment in years to come. Your investment also allows you to invite people to Dubai on short- and long-term visas.

This is also a good time to invest ahead of the Dubai 2020 expo which is expected to significantly increase Dubai’s economic and social value.

6. Education: Nigerian and African students are looking to Dubai and the UAE as the next hub for educational advancement. This week, we spoke to two Nigerian students, Jennifer and Damiseyo for their undergraduate and post graduate degrees at Wollongong University and Middlesex University respectively . Both universities are EMEA hubs for top universities based in Australia and the UK respectively.

Some of the reasons Nigerian and African students have alluded to for coming here is the cost of education, length of programmes and the global competitiveness of certificates. School fees is on the average NGN 10 million for a 4-year course and about NGN 6 million for a postgraduate degree. Even with admission to universities in the US and UK, getting visas is getting harder for Nigerian and African students which makes Dubai and the UAE even more attractive.

7. Informal Jobs: Masseuses. This seems to be a profitable business in the UAE. On the average, a masseuse that will come to your house will cost you 350 to 500 Dirham for an hour. It’s an industry dominated by Asians, some European countries and Africans. I have met at least 20 Africans in this field, and they say it’s a lucrative job. Some of them combine it with other jobs while others do it exclusively. There are also opportunities for security guards, cleaners, etc.

8. Holiday/Tourism: This is one of the biggest revenue earners for the Dubai, so they take it very seriously. If you can find a value addition around it, it provides a great opportunity. From visa agents to tour guides and planners there are quite a few opportunities in this area especially if you are very creative. Is there an exclusive experience you can offer that no one else offers? Find it and monetize it.

This week we are excited to announce an amazing summer offer in collaboration with Jumia Travel . With as low as 121,000 you can book for your hotel, tours, airport transfer and other amazing things as part of the Summer offer. Click here now to get the deal

What about Cost of living and Other legalities?

8. Cost of Living: Like any global luxury city, cost of living in Dubai is relatively expensive. This is where you cut your coat according to your cloth.

Housing: Rent is available yearly or monthly so if you experience a dramatic upsurge or decline in your circumstances, you can step down or step up your housing accordingly. 3000 Dhs or NGN 300,000 a month will pay for a room in a shared 4 bedroom apartment in one of the skyscrapers in Dubai Marina, an area similar to Banana Island or what Eko Atlantic wants to be in Lagos. That cost will cover Unlimited Internet, a shared kitchen with whatever appliances you need, a washing machine, electricity bills, daily apartment cleaning, etc. To step up to a 1 bedroom apartment or studio, you may need to step your budget up to 4000-6000 Dhs or NGN 400,000 to NGN600,000.

For Nigerians with deep pockets, housing opportunities are vast. You can get a 3 bedroom- 6 bedroom luxury apartment for between 250,000 to 1,000,000 Dhs yearly with whatever luxury you would like.

For people interested in the barest minimum for housing, you can get a bed space monthly in an 8-10 man/woman room in Bur Dubai or Deira for about 800 Dhs monthly. If you step it up to 1000 or 1500 Dhs, you can get in a 4 man room in Dubai Internet City.

There are cities like Sharjah and Ajman with a lot of Nigerians/Africans because rent and thevgeneral cost of living is lesser than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. People like Ajman because rules around alcohol drinking are less strident than in Dubai.

9. Health: Medical tourism is big business in Dubai. A lot of tourists are looking to Dubai for traditional and formal solutions to their healthcare needs. Dubai has attracted a lot of health care specialists and has a lot of modern health institutions that are cheaper but still the same standard as Europe or America. The AED exchanges for about N98 to a Dhs versus 3-5 times that number for Dollars/Pounds exchange makes it even more interesting.

Healthcare is a lot more regulated in Dubai than in most places in the world. To get a Dubai residency permit or work visa, you will have to go through a comprehensive medical checkup for things like Malaria, Heart Disease, Hepatitis, etc.

Officially, Dubai has totally eliminated Malaria so if you are Malaria prone please bring your antimalarial drugs or complete a treatment before coming to Dubai. Pharmacies here will also not dispense antibiotics to you without a proper doctor’s prescription so if you must absolutely take certain medications, you should pack them.

Be weary of illnesses like toilet infections especially if you are going to be in a shared apartment. Cranberry pills and certain other urinary tract health medications could help prevent this.

10. Visa: Your visa status is the most important thing for any nationality. Apart from Emiratis or special status visas, visas are usually tied to work, investment, education, tourism or business holding. For work, your employer controls everything related to your visa. If you lose your job, that’s the end of your visa and you need to leave till you get a tourist visa.

Available Visas are;

Tourist Visas: 1 week to 3 months for tourists renewable after you have left the country. 

Freelance Visas: This is a great opportunity available to people with skills in media, tech and education that don’t want to be tied down by one employer. So from photographers to journalists to content writers to Videographers etc. From 7500 Dhs to 15000 Dhs, you can get a freelance visa and resident permit in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other emirates that lasts for between 1 year to 3 years.

Work Visas: These Visas are tied to getting jobs in Dubai and under them, your visa sponsor is your employer. If you lose your job, you have a very short period within which you either get a job or exit the country.

Business Visas: This is a Visa available for registering a company in Dubai. Typically you can spend between 13000 to 25000 Dhs to register your business and get a residence permit in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or nearby emirates. There are creative ways to reduce your cost if this is the direction you want to go.

Investor Visas: These visas come bundled with different investment opportunities available in Dubai. A lot of real estate developers in Dubai offer options for you to also get a resident permit when you invest in Dubai.

We will be doing articles as NigeriansInDubai grows to break down other things you need to know about living and working in 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.

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