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Family and Children in Dubai

If you’re thinking of moving to Dubai with children in tow there are many serious considerations that you need to have in mind.  The first thing is that the heat in Dubai is very often not conducive for any outdoor activities.  As Britons we find it hard to conceptualise just how hot it can get in Dubai.  It can be so hot that children are confined to air-conditioned environments for up to 5 months of the year!

Fortunately there are many indoor activities to enjoy, and all accommodation comes with air conditioning…but if your child suffers from any heat rashes, dust allergies or asthma for example, Dubai’s is a very harsh environment.

The next thing to bear in mind is that private education in Dubai is nothing if not expensive.  The best schools have the longest waiting lists, and some schools that advertise themselves as being the best truly aren’t.  You have to invest not only money, but time to ensure your child is getting a good education in Dubai.

School fees can be anywhere from 5,000 – 100,000 AED annually for just one child!

On the positive side of things there are many expatriate families in the emirate, and expat or so-called third-generation kids do tend to benefit greatly on many levels from the experience of living abroad.

Children learn to adapt to new situations more quickly, they learn a new language, new rules and traditions, and they make many new friends from different backgrounds and nationalities.

It’s normal for a father to sponsor his wife and children, even if his wife is the main breadwinner – unless she’s a doctor, teacher or engineer.  It’s just another quirk of Dubai’s rules and laws!  You can apparently only sponsor family members if you’re earning 10,000 AED or more a month, although as with many things in Dubai there may be room for negotiation on this point when applying!

You can sponsor your spouse, unmarried daughters and sons up to the age of 18 if they are in full-time education.  Note: you can only sponsor them for residency and not for employment.  I.e., if your spouse or children want to work then they will need an employment visa from their employer.

The application process is via the DNRD (Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department – also known as the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs Dubai.

Firstly the sponsoring spouse or parent has to have their employment and then residency visa in place, and then they can apply to sponsor their entire family.

The list of documents you will need according to the official website is as follows, but most expats find they have to make at least 2 trips to the DNRD because additional document requirements are flagged up all the time – just apply patience to the entire situation and you’ll cope well: –

  • An application form (you can get this from the DNRD typing office)
  • 4 passport photographs of every family member to be sponsored
  • Original entry permits (likely to be visit or tourism visas)
  • Everyone’s passports
  • Medical certificates for spouse and sponsored children over the age of 18*
  • Copy of the sponsor’s salary certificate/contract of employment
  • Copy of the sponsor’s residency visa
  • Copy of the sponsor’s e-gate card
  • Marriage certificate/birth certificates

* The medical certificates are obtained following a medical fitness test which can be undertaken at any of the 14 approved centres in Dubai as listed on the Dubai Health Authority website.

A final note: for a working husband, even if your wife is going to be working in Dubai, it is preferable for you to sponsor her rather than her employer.  This is because if she wants to change jobs in the future she won’t have to change sponsor, and if she resigns/needs to give up work for any reason she won’t be subject to the UAE labour ban.

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