How To Retire In Dubai – A Guide For Expat Retirees

Retire in Dubai: all about Dubai's retirement visa and how to apply for it.

In September 2020, Dubai launched a new retirement programme for eligible foreigners. 

Our Dubai retirement guide covers all the necessary information about the new scheme and your eligibility. We’ll look at qualifying criteria, associated cost, and other relevant information.

Is it a good idea to retire in Dubai?

Dubai offers a lifestyle vastly different from anything expats might be used to. Even so, there are plenty of reasons why it would appeal.

Dubai is a modern and well-developed city thanks to its association with the oil industry. It’s seen massive growth over the last 30 years, which has led to an infrastructure boom. It prioritises convenience, quality living, and useful amenities. So, what does it offer for foreign retirees?

Overall, Dubai has plenty of exciting opportunities for retirees wanting a completely different lifestyle. It’s all about glitz and glamour, opulent shops, amazing shows and music festivals, high-class restaurants, private beach clubs, cinema complexes, theme parks, golf clubs and many other entertainment opportunities.

The retirement programme’s early stages only covered foreign residents working in Dubai that had reached the state’s retirement age. However, in an attempt to attract investment and open Dubai up to foreigners, it was expanded to all countries.

How do I get a retirement visa in Dubai?

To get a Dubai retirement visa, you must apply online via Dubai’s tourism website. The application begins by submitting an email and making the payment, after which your application is reviewed and processed. Providing you’re successful, you’ll then be issued your visa.

As with other retirement visa programmes, there are eligibility requirements. You must be at least 55 years old and fulfil one of the following four criteria:

1. Have a monthly income of AED 20,000 (£3,940/$5,500) from a pension or previous employer (per person).

2. Have AED 1 million (approx. £200,000/$275,000) in savings in a 3-year fixed deposit account.

3. Own unmortgaged property in Dubai valued at AED 2 million (£394,000/$550,000).

4. A combination of options 2 and 3 – AED 2 million in assets split between unmortgaged property and a 3-year fixed deposit savings account.

In the early phases of the retirement programme, there was some confusion around eligibility criteria. Some institutions reported that you had to meet all four criteria, but this isn’t true. Dubai’s tourism website (linked above) states that it’s one of four, and you can find more information by visiting the link.

International applications have to be translated into Arabic and attested by your country’s UAE embassy before submission online.

Applicants can sponsor their spouse and an unlimited number of children, but sponsorship doesn’t extend to parents or other family members. Unfortunately, spousal sponsorship doesn’t cover same-sex marriages, even if recognised in your home country, as it’s illegal in the UAE.

Providing your application is successful, you’ll officially become a resident of the UAE. This will entitle you to a state-issued ID card and unlimited entrance and exit from the UAE. Your visa must be renewed every five years, but this happens automatically if you continue to meet the initial criteria.

What is the cost of a retirement visa in Dubai?

As part of the application process, you have to pay a non-refundable processing fee of AED92 (£18/$25) per applicant and dependent. If your application is approved, you then have to pay a fee of AED 2,214.25 (£436/$600) per applicant. This covers the visa and ID costs.

How much do I need to retire in Dubai?

As a base cost for retiring in Dubai, you’ll need an income of £4,000 a month or roughly £200,000 in savings. This is unrelated to the actual cost of living and is necessary for the visa requirements.

 Although there’s considerable disparity between goods and services (for example, beer is incredibly expensive, as are some foods), the overall cost of living in Dubai is not too bad.

Public transport in Dubai is efficient and inexpensive, and the city makes great use of ride-hailing apps like Uber. That said, running your own car is fairly cheap (as you’d expect from a major exporter of petroleum products). On average, petrol is around 40p a litre.

Property prices sit between £1,750 and £2,400 per square metre depending on where in the city you look. While prices will be much lower in the surrounding municipalities, you won’t get the same kinds of amenities there.

Importantly for expats, there’s no income tax in Dubai. 

So, expats will benefit from the cost of living in Dubai in several ways. Not only are most products and services cheaper, but you also won’t have to give up much of your pension in tax.

Dubai retirement visa process

1. Submit your application via email to retireindubai@dubaitourism.ae. The application must include all relevant documentation (copy of passport, marriage certificate, proof of savings, property deed, etc.).

As mentioned, all letters must be translated into Arabic and attested by your country’s UAE embassy. This means they must sign off on your application in confirmation.

2. Once your documents have been received, you’ll get a link to a payment centre. You submit the application fee of £18 per person.

3. Dubai’s immigration department will then assess your application. They will contact you for any further evidence they might need.

4. After the initial assessment, your application is passed to one of two departments. This will either be the General Affairs Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs for income and savings applications or the Dubai Land Department for property applications.

5. These departments contact you directly about your application. If you’re successful, you have to undertake a medical exam as part of the visa’s final stages.

After arranging the initial documentation, there’s not much you need to do. The processing time isn’t that long, either. Dubai’s tourism website states that assessment can take up to 15 working days after initial confirmation.

Dubai retirement visa health insurance

It’s mandatory to get health insurance in Dubai. Luckily, this provides you access to one of the world’s best public health systems, as you’d expect from such an affluent and modern city-state.

While you don’t need an active policy to begin your visa application, you will need medical cover in place to actually move to Dubai. If your visa is approved, you’ll be invited to a medical exam. Once this is complete, you’ll have to find a suitable health insurance provider.

There are numerous health insurance providers in Dubai but you’re also allowed to use international health insurance. To do so, you must acquire a letter confirming it covers services in the UAE.

While costs will obviously vary depending on your age and health, the average price for one person can be around £3,900 ($4,700) a year.  

Final thoughts on retiring in Dubai

Overall, Dubai could make a great country for retirement. It’s modern, has great amenities, and is well aware of its position on the global stage. The new retirement visa programme makes it fairly easy for eligible foreigners to retire in Dubai.

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Jacob Powell
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Swansea, Wales. He lives with his partner and two dogs, Merlin and Matilda. After gaining his BA and MA in English Literature, Jacob decided to take his writing full time. He writes for Expatra alongside a number of other regular clients. After his parents emigrated to France in January 2020, Jacob has a special interest in all things expat related and even plans to retire abroad himself someday.
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