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Orientation and Settling In

In this section you will find information to help you navigate those first critical weeks after your arrival at Zayed University and the U.A.E.  You will find specific information about the Orientation Program, held in August and January when most of our new faculty and staff commence, in addition to valuable resources on housing, schools, banking and more.

Orientation Schedule Banking Utilities, Phone and Internet
Academic Calendar Blood Test Health Insurance
Important Documents Housing and Accommodation Schools
Shopping Household Insurance Driving
Mobile Phones    


Orientation Schedule

The New Faculty and Staff Orientations take place in August and January. Your arrival in the U.A.E. will coincide with the start of the Orientation. If you arrive at another time of the year, your Orientation will be tailor-made.

The Orientation is designed to help you settle into your new environment quickly and comfortably.

Download the 2009 August Orientation Schedule here.

Week One is focused on getting all the mandatory contract and visa requirements underway - signing off your employment contract, completing the medical insurance forms, completing the required blood tests for the residence visa, etc.  It is also a time to get to know your new city of residence - Abu Dhabi or Dubai.   You will enjoy tours of the city to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings.  High on the list are "shopping tours" so you can begin to make those first purchases for your new accommodation (if you are going into unfurnished housing).  Getting a phone, bank account and other activities fill out this busy week. 

On the weekend following the first week, those of you moving into unfurnished accommodation will move into your new homes. 

Week Two changes focus towards learning the tools and applications used by faculty and staff at ZU as well as the different units and functions.  You will also begin to move into your Academic Units, meeting fellow faculty members and attend the Annual Convocation Meeting.  This represents the launch of the new academic year at ZU.

While many of the first week's activities occur at the hotel or around the city, from Week Two onward, you can expect to be on campus. 

Week Three completes Orientation. This week you will continue learning remaining applications and eventually settle in your respective Academic Unit.

Typically the January Orientation is two weeks' duration - instead of the extended three week program offered in August. This is due to the fact that we typically have far fewer faculty joining us in January.

Academic Calendar

To see the full academic calendar outlining semester dates, breaks and holiday schedules, click here.  

Important Documents

At the contract signing session, you will also be asked to hand over a number of important documents to enable us to apply for your Residence Visa. 

Please plan ahead to bring a package with the following documents with you on Day One of the Orientation:

  1. Passport
  2. Marriage Certificate (attested)
  3. Birth Certificates of Children (attested)
  4. Adoption and Custody Agreements (attested)
  5. Signed Letter from Father/Mother (attested)
  6. Verification of Qualification or Official Transcripts (if not already sent)
  7. Excess Baggage or Shipping Receipts

To help you organize all the important documents, download the checklist

We will return your passport, marriage certificate, birth certificates of children, adoption and custody agreements and signed letters from the father/mother to you after completing the Residence Visa application procedure.

For those of you coming to work in Dubai, we will need an additional eight (8) passport photos after your arrival of a designated size and type for Immigration purposes.  We will advise you on this after your arrival.

Details on attesting documents can be found here.

Shopping Tours

You and your family will be taken to some of the more popular furniture stores in your respective city. You will be able to see what is available and have the opportunity to purchase items for your home.

Zayed University has secured a number of discounts at various stores in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. You will be given a list of these stores during the Orientation. You will have to show the salesperson your university ID card (which we will issue to you) to be eligible for a discount.

A few secondhand shops do exist, but the goods are often in poor condition. For secondhand items, supermarket noticeboards and newspaper classifieds are the best places to look. Zayed University has an intranet Web site called ZU Classifieds for Abu Dhabi and Dubai which you will be able to access after your arrival on campus.

Shops in the U.A.E. offer an extensive range of furniture and household items.  You will certainly be able to purchase all of your household needs, furniture, and appliances in the U.A.E.

Some shops, particularly in Abu Dhabi, close from 1 pm to 4 pm every day.  On Fridays, many shops do not open until 1 pm or even as late as 4 pm, if at all.

Almost all shops will deliver large items to your home. Street addresses are rarely used, therefore to ensure a trouble-free delivery:

  • Note your building name and nearby landmarks.
  • Your building security guard may have a location map.
  • Write down a contact telephone number for you and your building.
  • With your permission, the security guard can accept deliveries on your behalf if you are not available. Feel free to give the security guard your house key if you are comfortable doing so.


Your salary will be paid into your bank account in the U.A.E. on the last day of the month. The date of the U.A.E. Immigration entry stamp in your passport will be considered as your first day of employment. Your salary will be paid from that date.

You may download a list of some of the banks in Abu Dhabi and Dubai here.

Any delay in opening a bank account may delay payment of your salary. It is easy to change banks at a later date; however, if you do change your bank, please give Human Resources the details of your new bank account to avoid problems or delays with paying your salary. You will also be required to give Human Resources a non-liability letter from your old bank.

To open a bank account, you will need:

1.  A photocopy of your passport (and a photocopy of your spouse’s passport for joint accounts).

2.  A “No Objection” letter from Zayed University.  We will prepare this letter for you.

Banking machines with international connections are available throughout the U.A.E.

Please note that in the U.A.E., you cannot stop a check once it has been written. Checks are typically only used to pay utility bills. Many businesses do not accept personal checks. Postdated checks are used to pay car loans and personal loans.

All banks offer major credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa. If you decide to retain the credit card that was issued in your country of origin, it is a good idea to notify the issuing bank. If you do not notify the bank of your change of address, you risk having your credit card stopped by the bank due to a sudden and unexpected profile/geographical change.

Blood Test

During your first few days in the U.A.E., you will be taken to a local hospital for a blood test. This blood test is a requirement for processing your U.A.E. residence visa.  Residents of Dubai are also required to have a chest x-ray.

Spouses do not have a blood test at this time. Zayed University will arrange your spouse’s blood test at a later time once sponsorship procedures are initiated. Children under the age of eighteen years are not required to undergo a blood test.

Pre-packaged disposable needles are used.

A blood test is required to renew a Residence Visa (usually once every three years).

Housing and Accommodation

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 (based on the number of resident dependents*), and the specific type of contract.

Employees on a regular three-year contract with ZU are provided with unfurnished accommodation; employees on contracts of shorter duration may 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 or in a specific location.

*What do we mean by "resident dependents"? 

A resident dependent refers to your spouse and children who reside with you in the U.A.E. for at least seven months each year and will have a valid U.A.E. residence visa; dependent children are those who are less than eighteen years of age or children who are between eighteen and twenty three years of age and are continuing their studies on a full-time basis until the end of the first university stage or its equivalent. 

Please be advised that it is not possible for male children of eighteen years and older to be sponsored for residence in the U.A.E. by their parents; they must be sponsored by the university they are attending in the U.A.E.

Thus, housing is determined based on your family size considering only those dependents who meet the definition above and reside in the U.A.E. as noted.

Household Insurance

Zayed University has an arrangement with the Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company (ADNIC) to provide household contents insurance. It is advisable to insure your household goods. Please contact the Human Resources Department for details of the policy.

Utilities, Telephone and Internet

Utility, telephone and internet charges are your responsibility. Water consumption is metered, but some units are charged a standard amount for water. In some buildings, the landlord meets part of the cost of air conditioning. Those residing in furnished accommodation will have their utility bills automatically deducted from their monthly salaries. You will be notified of the amount each month.

You will only be able to obtain telephone and Internet connections for your home once you have obtained your Residence Visa.

Many banks offer Internet banking allowing you to pay your water, electricity, and telephone bills.

Options to pay your utility bills include:


Water and Electricity
Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC) (

  • Any branch of ADDC (there are fourteen branches in Abu Dhabi)
  • Various banks
  • Mail


Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) (

  • Bur Dubai beside the WAFI Center
  • Any DEWA collection center (there are eight branches)
  • On-line
  • Various banks
  • Mail

  • Any branch of Etisalat
  • Etisalat cash payment machines
  • Various banks
  • On-line
  • Mail


Health Insurance

The government requires that all expatriate employees and their families have medical coverage, especially at the time of obtaining or renewing their Residence Visa.

Zayed University has a private medical insurance plan with the Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company (ADNIC) for Dubai employees. More information can be found in the ADNIC Summary and Brochure.

The medical insurance plan covers employees within the U.A.E., and also covers employees for vacation periods or when traveling outside the U.A.E. on official university business, up to ninety days per year.

The medical insurance plan is compulsory for expatriate employees at Grades 5 and above. Family members who reside in the U.A.E. can be covered by the medical insurance plan for a monthly fee deducted from your salary.

Medical insurance for Abu Dhabi employees is provided through Daman.  As soon as the Daman brochure is available, we will post it here.  Stay tuned.

An alternative to enrolling family members into ADNIC, and for anyone with a pre-existing condition, is to have a government health card. This card entitles the holder to slightly cheaper medical treatment at government hospitals. The annual charge for a government health card is approximately Dhs 300 per year.

If you are importing medications, the following should be taken into consideration:

  • All medications are subject to the approval of the Ministry of Health, Pharmaceutical Department.
  • Quantities are restricted to three months’ consumption every time and for personal use only.
  • A medical report and prescription should be enclosed with the medications.
  • Tranquilizers cannot be brought into the U.A.E.

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.

If you have any questions on the availability in the U.A.E. of medication you may be taking, or on the importation of medication, please contact Human Resources.


If you have children who will be attending school in the U.A.E., the Schools section will be of interest to you. The school year in the U.A.E. is September to June. Information regarding nursery, primary and secondary schools is provided in addition to listings of some of the schools in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.


In the U.A.E., vehicles are driven on the right side – the same as in the United States and Canada for example.  If you intend to drive, bring your home country driving license with you.

You must have a U.A.E. residence visa before you can apply for a U.A.E. driving license. Once you have your U.A.E. residence visa, a process of about one month, a ten year U.A.E. driving license can be obtained.

You may be eligible to transfer your existing driving license, without having to take a driving test or going to a driving school, if you have a valid driving license from one of the thirty six countries listed below.

Note: You have to be a citizen and hold the passport of one of the countries given below and the driving license should be from the same country.

The countries whose citizens can transfer their driving licenses are:

Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.

Please note: Driving license holders of some countries in the above list will require translations or consulate letters. These countries are:

  • Canada: A letter from the Canadian Consulate to verify that the license is genuine is required before transferring your license.
  • Driving license holders from Greece, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Cyprus, Canada, Turkey, Japan and Korea will require a translation of their driving license from their respective consulates.

Fees and Documents Required

Passport for residents (original and copy) residence permit copy, current driving license (original and copy), translation of driving license (for some countries), consulate letter (for Canadians), one passport photo, eye test certificate and Dhs 110 for transfer fee. Also required is a no-objection letter from your sponsor.

Easy Steps

Get an eye test done. This can be done at any optician. Give them two passport-sized photos and mention that it is for a driving license. Most opticians will not charge for the test, while there may be a small fee for others.

Before leaving the U.A.E. for good, you may want to cancel your U.A.E. driving license.  If your U.A.E. license expires and you later 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.

Remember, you can only apply for your driving license once you have your Residence Visa.  Therefore you will not be able to drive for up to one month.  You will need to make other, interim arrangements to get around and to work.

Those entering the U.A.E. on a visit visa can rent a car or those holding a driving license issued by a GCC country. If your spouse has entered the U.A.E. on a visit visa, he or she can rent a car using an international driving license or a temporary U.A.E. driving license.

You can purchase a vehicle only after you have a Residence Visa and a U.A.E. driving license. Vehicle prices start from approximately Dhs 45,000 and are available in both manual and automatic transmission. Second-hand cars are available. There are a number of used car dealers, and advertisements on noticeboards in grocery stores or in the local newspapers and magazines.

Vehicles can be imported for personal use. Duty in the amount of 5% is payable on the value assessed by Customs. To collect a car shipped to the U.A.E., Customs requires shipping documents and a photocopy of your passport. Importing certain brands of new cars may require permission from the U.A.E. agent for that brand of car. Also keep in mind the availability of an authorized dealer in the U.A.E. to service the car, the availability of spare parts, and resale value.

Before you can drive your car, it will need to be insured and registered.  If you are buying a car through a dealer, the dealer will help you with both. If you are buying privately, you will have to arrange the insurance and registration yourself. Human Resources will provide you with the letters required and advise you on the current procedures.  You may wish to ask your current insurer to provide you with a "no claims certificate"; this may help reduce your insurance premium.

Once your car is registered, keep the registration card and your driving license in the car at all times. Also keep a photocopy of your passport. In case of an accident, you will be asked to produce these documents. You must register your car on a yearly basis.  You must pay your traffic fines before you will be allowed to register your car or renew your driving license. Below are some general driving tips and techniques:

If you have an accident, do not leave the scene of the accident. Contact the police. When the police arrive, have your registration card and driving license 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. A garage cannot repair accident damage without a form.
The paved shoulder is sometimes used as a fourth lane by impatient drivers.  It is illegal.
Mobile Phones
It is against the law to drive while speaking on a mobile phone. Be sure to purchase a “hands-free” accessory if you plan to use your mobile phone while in the car.
Pedestrians always have the right of way.
Red Lights
It is against the law to turn right on a red light.
There are many roundabouts (traffic circles) in the U.A.E. The best rule of thumb is to stay on the inside lane if you are turning left, but edge to the right before you want to exit. Always signal. The vehicles on the traffic circle have the right of way, so be careful.
Seat Belts
Seat belts in cars and buses are mandatory. Please use yours, even in a taxi. Rear seat belts should also be worn. Children under the age of ten years are not allowed to occupy the front seat.
Speed Bumps
Speed bumps of all sizes can be found within and outside of the cities, on minor and major roads. They are usually indicated in yellow and can be quite high, so be careful.
A policeman will rarely stop you for speeding. However, there are many hidden radar cameras. You may pay any fines as soon as you incur them and you must pay the fine(s) before you can renew your car registration or driving license. If you are renting a car and are ticketed for speeding, you will have to pay the fine with your monthly rental bill. To check for fines incurred and to pay them online, in Abu Dhabi, in Dubai
Taxis are plentiful and reasonably priced (and considerably cheaper in Abu Dhabi). Most of the drivers do speak English, but their English may be limited. It is therefore important to know exactly where you are going so that you can give them directions if necessary.

Mobile Phones

Two types of mobile phone service are available in the U.A.E. - monthly credit account and pre-paid.  There are two telephone companies in the U.A.E., Etisalat and Du, offering mobile phone services:

Mobile phones themselves can be purchased in the airport duty-free shops, supermarkets, malls and electronic shops.

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