Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Customs and Shipping
Should I buy or rent a car?
Click here to learn more about ZU's health insurance schemes.
Quality of Life and Activities
Travel to the U.A.E.
Verification of Qualifications
What to Bring and What to Buy
The dress code in the U.A.E. is much the same as it would be in your home country. But a healthy respect for the local customs should be maintained. You will see plenty of people wearing shorts, T-shirts, skirts, etc. Cllothing doesn’t have to cover arms and legs, but should be somewhat modest as a sign of respect for the local sensibilities.
Zayed University has a dress code in respect for the culture of the U.A.E. community. We require that our faculty and staff present a professional appearance at all times.
Female employees are expected to wear dress pants/trousers or dresses/skirts which are on or below the knee. Blouses or jackets, which cover the arms to the elbow, are appropriate.
Male employees are expected to wear dress pants/trousers, business shirts (long-sleeved when the weather permits) with a tie. Preferably jackets should be worn when the weather permits, although they do not have to be worn throughout the day. Sandals are not appropriate with male western business attire.
Can I buy shoes in large sizes?
Shoes in large sizes are available in the U.A.E. International shoe stores tend to carry larger sized shoes. Smaller, independently owned shops, especially those in the souk areas, tend to carry smaller sized shoes typically worn by Middle Eastern and Asian men and women.
Can you recommend tailors?
Tailors are easy to find and are typically located in areas where fabrics are sold. In Abu Dhabi, you will find tailors all over the city. In Dubai, you can find tailors in Bur Dubai, Satwa, and in the souk in Deira. Word of mouth is often the best way to find a good tailor.
Are there Internet cafes?
There are many Internet cafes. Internet cafes usually charge Dhs 10 (approximately US$2.50) for an hour of Internet usage.
Internet access is available at the hotel where you will stay for the first six nights (if you are coming on a three year contract) and on campus and you also be able to set up Internet access at your home.
When and how can I get a mobile phone?
Two types of mobile phone service are available in the U.A.E. - prepaid and monthly account. You can purchase a prepaid SIM card for your mobile phone as soon as you arrive in the U.A.E. but you will have to wait until your Residence Visa has been finalized until you can set up a monthly account.
Mobile phones themselves are available in the airport duty-free shops, supermarkets and electronics stores.
Is international news available?
CNN, BBC, and local news channels are all available. Local and international newspapers are also ubiquitous.
Customs and Shipping
What types of items can I not bring into the U.A.E.?
Inappropriate items are those which may contain a pornographic or sex-related connotation (this can include art) or which may be anti-Islam or pro-Israel. Books, magazines, videos, CDs, DVDs may be subject to censorship. Items that are confiscated may be returned to you if they are deemed acceptable. Be sure to obtain a receipt for any items retained; you will need the receipt to reclaim the goods. If the items are not deemed acceptable, you may be given the option of abandoning them or sending them back to your home country. Luggage arriving with you will also be subject to the same type of inspection.
Will my luggage be checked by Customs?
Customs has the right to inspect all luggage.
Where do I ship my boxes?
Unaccompanied items should be addressed to you c/o Zayed University. Shipments should be scheduled to arrive after you, as Zayed University is not authorized to clear shipments and cannot store items for you.
When your shipment arrives, you will be notified by the shipper. Human Resources can put you in touch with companies which can help you collect your shipment. You will need your passport and the shipping documents to clear your goods from customs.
How do I get my shipment once it arrives in the U.A.E.? What is the process?
Used personal belongings (accompanied or unaccompanied) are exempt from customs duty. Collecting your shipment basically involves the following steps:
Click here for more information.
What documents do I need to bring with me?
Go to our section on Important Documents to learn more about the documents to bring with you and to send in advance of your arrival. For safety we recommend you bring them in your carry-on luggage. Plus, a number of these documents are needed the first day of Orientation so keep them in an easy to get at location.
How do I get documents attested?
Many of your documents require attestation by a U.A.E. Consulate prior to your arrival. This can take some time so start the process early. Instructions on attestation can be found here.
Should I buy or rent a car?
To rent a car in the U.A.E., you must have one the following:
If you enter the U.A.E. on an employment visa, you will not be able to drive or rent a car until your residence visa has been finalized. Nor can you buy a car until your residence visa has been finalized and you have a U.A.E. driving license.
Individuals, such as your spouse, if entering the country on a visit visa, can rent a car on arrival with an international driving license or a U.A.E. or GCC license.
Whether you buy or rent a car is up to you. Both are readily available. Buses and taxis are plentiful. However due to large distances and convenience, most people do drive.
Well-known car rental chains such as Budget and Avis have offices in the U.A.E. and offer daily, weekend and monthly rates. There are also a large number of car dealerships and used car dealerships. Prices for new vehicles are typically a bit cheaper than in North America.
Before leaving the U.A.E. for good, you may want to cancel your U.A.E. driving license. If the license expires while you are out of the U.A.E. and you return to the U.A.E. and apply for a new license, you will have to pay a fine before being able to apply for the new license.
How much car insurance do I need?
Fully comprehensive accident insurance is recommended. Rates are usually in the area of four to seven percent of the listed value of the car. The exact rate will depend on the age and model of the car as well as your previous insurance history.
What should I do if I have a traffic accident?
If you have an accident, do not leave the scene of the accident. Contact the police. If no one was hurt and vehicle damage is minor, drivers are recommended to move their vehicles to the side of the road to avoid blocking traffic. Otherwise, the vehicles should not be moved. When the police arrive, have your vehicle registration card, driving license and insurance papers ready for them and follow their instructions. They will ask for your view of what happened, and then decide who was at fault. If the police decide you were at fault, you will be given a pink form. If you are determined not to be at fault, you will be given a green form. The form allows you to have your vehicle repaired. Workshops cannot repair accident damage without a form.
Can women drive?
Absolutely! Women of all nationalities drive in the U.A.E.
Can I use my current driving license in the U.A.E.?
If you are a resident (have obtained a Residence Visa), you must obtain a ten-year U.A.E. driving license before you can drive.
Residents from the following countries can usually obtain a U.A.E. license without having to take a driving test: UK, most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, and Canada.
Canadian passport holders will have to obtain a letter from their Embassy or Consulate prior to applying for a U.A.E. license.
If your driving license is not from one of the countries mentioned above, you will have to undergo a driving test.
What is the driving like?
In the U.A.E., vehicles are driven on the right side - the same as in the United States and Canada for example, and roundabouts are common. Seatbelts are required and mobile phones are prohibited while driving (unless you have a hands-free set).
With such a mix of nationalities, driving techniques can also be mixed as well, resulting in some problems. To counteract speeding, radar cameras are quite common, as are speed bumps. In general, traffic rules in the U.A.E. are much the same as in your own home country.
What kind of housing can I expect?
You will be taken to your new accommodation during the first few days after your arrival. Zayed University provides accommodation based on grade (level) of position, and/or family size, and the specific type of contract. Employees on a regular three year contract are provided with unfurnished accommodation; employees on a Term Contract will be provided with furnished accommodation.
Please note that suitable accommodation is usually acquired within the last weeks prior to your arrival. It is not possible therefore, to provide specific information on your accommodation prior to your arrival nor can we guarantee that your accommodation will be near your child’s school.
Accommodation is typically located in high-rise apartment buildings. It will be assigned based on availabilty, your family status and grade/rank. In recent years both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have experienced an acute shortage in available accommodation. Units of any form are very difficult to source and inflation in the rental market has been extremely high. While we attempt to source accommodation in a timely manner, there can be delays before you can move into your allocated housing. Housing options are also very limited. You will be assigned housing on your arrival based on availability of ZU units.
How far is my apartment/villa from the University?
Accommodation is typically not within walking distance of the University. In both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, accommodation is spread throughout the city in a number of different University- approved buildings. During peak traffic hours, driving can take anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes or more.
Does the University provide transport to and from work?
You will be responsible for your own transportation to and from Zayed University. Most people drive, but many employees arrange for taxis, a private mini-bus or carpool.
How do I find the campus locations?
We have campuses in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Maps can be found here.
Quality of Life and Activities
What is the cost of living?
Cost of living in the U.A.E. is fairly reasonable and is comparable to other big cities around the world. Housing in Abu Dhabi city and Dubai is typically expensive and continues to contribute to increasing costs of living. Goods vary in price from the very inexpensive items in souks, to more expensive items in electronics shops. Bear in mind that taxes are not levied in the U.A.E.
What is the quality of life?
The quality of life in the U.A.E. is very high. The environment is safe and clean; the selection of goods is high; and recreational facilities and events are plentiful. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have numerous beautiful beaches offering water sports. Both indoor and outdoor recreational activities are available and with such a mix of cultures, many cultural events take place throughout the year.
What types of facilities and activities are available for men, women, and children?
It is almost impossible to be bored in the U.A.E. whether you are an indoor or outdoor buff.
Beaches, dune driving, camping, hiking, rock climbing, snorkeling, snow skiing, ice skating, horse riding and and scuba diving are just some of the activities you can enjoy in the U.A.E.
The U.A.E. also welcomes many world class performers and events. Some of these events include: shopping festivals, golf tournaments, rugby, horse racing, opera, ballet, music concerts, marathons, etc.
How hot does it get?
It gets very hot from June to September. Temperatures can reach as high as 50 degrees Centigrade (122 Fahrenheit) in the middle of summer. Most activities take place indoors during this time.
Those seeking some reprieve from the heat often head out into the desert in the evening (where temperatures are a bit cooler) for barbecues or dune driving. Others take advantage of Dubai as an airport hub and visit nearby exotic destinations.
Go to www.weathernetwork.com for more information on the weather in the U.A.E. and the region.
Should I register with my consulate?
All foreign residents should register with their Embassy or Consulate. Foreign government offices maintain a current list of patriots and their contact numbers. The Embassy or Consulate will be able to contact you for social events, general announcement, or emergencies.
Is it safe in the U.A.E.?
The U.A.E. is a very safe country with a crime rate of 1.5%. Most expatriates feel safer in the U.A.E. than in their home countries. However, as in all big cities, a healthy degree of caution should always be exercised.
What about schooling for my children?
There are a large number of international schools in the U.A.E., however, they often have waiting lists - so contact them early. Teaching standards are usually high and schools have excellent facilities and extracurricular activities.
Most schools will require proof of your child’s previous academic records and a letter from the school in your home country outlining your child’s education.
For more information on schools, go to our Schools page.
What about schooling for my college-age children?
A number of English language universities/colleges exist in the U.A.E. Universities are typically affiliated with American, Australian or European universities and offer degree and diploma courses. The American University in Dubai, The American University of Sharjah, and The University of Wollongong are accredited, and offer undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Travel to the U.A.E.
Who will arrange my flight to the U.A.E.?
Human Resources will arrange your flight to the U.A.E. Human Resources will also arrange flights for family members who will be accompanying you or joining you later (to take up residence with you in the U.A.E.). Flights will be direct (or as direct as possible).
Can I ask for a layover?
We cannot book flights with layovers unless unavoidable or as specifically requested by the employee at his/her expense.
Can my family accompany me?
Your family can of course accompany you.
Who pays for the flight?
Zayed University pays for the flight for you and any family members taking up residence with you in the U.A.E. (a spouse and up to three dependent children).
How long will it take to process my residence visa?
An employee’s residence visa can take up to four weeks to process. An employee will arrive in the U.A.E. on an employment visa which will later be changed to a residence visa. A residence visa entitles you to work in the U.A.E. and is valid for three years. Once you have a residence visa and all of the necessary documents, you can sponsor your spouse and any dependent children who will be residing in the U.A.E.
If your family members accompany you to the U.A.E. at the same time, they can enter the U.A.E. on a visit visa which will later be transferred to a residence visa. This usually takes up to eight weeks. If your family members arrive after you, it is best if they arrive after you have received your residence visa. Family members can then enter the U.A.E. on a residence visa.
Will I be able to leave the U.A.E. while my residence visa is being processed?
Once you arrive in the U.A.E. on an employment visa, you cannot leave the country until your residence visa is stamped in your passport. The same applies to family members. However, if a family member needs to leave the U.A.E. before this time, the processing of their residence visa can be delayed until their return to the U.A.E.
What to Bring and What to Buy
Can I bring medications?
If you are importing medications, the following should be taken into consideration:
If you have any questions about medications, contact Human Resources.
Some drugs that you may be able to purchase over the counter in your home country are considered to be narcotics in the U.A.E. and are not permitted. For example - some analgesics or cough medicines contain codeine which is considered a narcotic in the U.A.E. Do not bring these drugs into the U.A.E.
Can I buy medications in the U.A.E.?
The U.A.E. has excellent pharmacies and you should be able to buy most of the medications you are familiar with.
What items can I buy and what should I bring?
The U.A.E. has an excellent selection of all types of food, clothing, furniture, and electronics. The furniture allowance provided by Zayed University (for employees on three year contracts) will allow you to purchase everything you will need for your apartment. However, you may want to bring some personal items which have sentimental value to help make your new home more familiar.
Although the U.A.E. has a good selection of English book stores, books do tend to be expensive. Therefore you may wish to bring/ship books to the U.A.E., but check with your College/Department to see if they already have the professional books you will need. Keep in mind that Zayed University has well-stocked libraries on each campus. The libraries subscribe to a number of databases, and have arrangements for inter-library borrowing. In addition, the libraries have a supply of paperback books which employees can borrow. Families may also use the libraries.
Can I buy alcohol and pork in the U.A.E.?
Most five star hotels in the U.A.E. serve alcohol in their restaurants and bars. After receiving a Residence Visa, non-Muslims can apply for a liquor permit which allows them to purchase alcohol from licensed liquor stores for consumption at home.
Pork is available in some supermarkets.
Should I bring my computer?
You will be a given computer at work. Teaching faculty will be issued a laptop computer which you can also use at home. Computer accounts for email will be set up by the time you arrive on campus. Bringing a computer with you or not may depend on if your family needs a computer while you are at work, if you prefer to have a separate computer at home, etc.
Do women have to wear a veil?
Women do not have to wear veils. Only a woman’s culture, religion, and finally choice determine whether or not she wears a veil. Foreign women dress much the same way as they do in their home countries.
What about spousal employment? Can women work? How can one go about finding employment?
The U.A.E. is one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two emirates where Zayed University campuses are located, are cosmopolitan cities where women of all nationalities work alongside men. With a diversified and growth-oriented economy and English as the language of business, most people with appropriate qualifications and skills can find a job.
Job advertisements are published in the local English mewspapers, and there are a number of employment Web sites devoted to the U.A.E. market. Your spouse should also consider registering with some of the numerous recruitment agencies.
Am I allowed to photograph University students?
Taking photographs of students is prohibited. Only students whose parents have signed a release form can be photographed.
Am I allowed to photograph University buildings or official events?
Yes, photographs of University buildings or official events are allowed provided there are no students in the photograph.
Does the University provide computers and/or laptops?
All employees are assigned computers. Teaching faculty are assigned laptops. Computers are also available in the library for anyone to use.