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Moving To Dubai From Canada

Dubai has become a favorite destination for Canadian expats exploring new horizons and embracing new possibilities. With a thriving expat population of over 40,000 Canadians, Dubai’s attractiveness lies in its dynamic ambiance, tax-free incomes, year-round sunshine, and cosmopolitan lifestyle.

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If you are interested in moving to Dubai, this article will serve you well. Be sure to check out Moving to Dubai – A Comprehensive Guide for further details about moving to the Emirates before your move, though.

Further down the road, if you decide you want to become a citizen of the UAE, you’ll be pleased to know that UAE now permits dual citizenship for specific categories of immigrants too! How to Become a Citizen in Dubai will then come in handy.

Dubai is a cultural melting pot offering a mix of Arabian charm and modern feature comforts. The city has world-class shopping malls, stunning architectural wonders, and a great variety of recreational activities. The thriving expat community creates plentiful opportunities to network and socialize.

At the same time, it’s important to be respectful of the predominantly Muslim local culture and customs. Getting used to a new environment takes time, but with open-mindedness and patience, you can build lasting connections and live a fulfilling life in Dubai.

Moving to Dubai for Canadians

When considering a move to Dubai, Canadian expats should consider the comparative costs of living between the two places, how they are going to make a living, what schools are available for their children, etc.

Dubai Marina Panoramic View, UAE

Cost of Living in Dubai Compared to Canada

Obviously, the cost of living depends on your lifestyle and habits. Moreover, especially for a country the size of Canada, the same basket of goods and services can have greatly varying costs depending on which part of the country you are from.

The following table provides a snapshot of the costs in November 2023 of some commonly consumed goods and services in Dubai and in Toronto, which is where the biggest population in Canada can be found:


Item Cost in Dubai Cost in Toronto
Meal at an inexpensive eatery AED 40 (CAD $15) CAD $24
3-course meal for 2 people at a mid-range eatery AED 250 (CAD $93) CAD $109
1 liter of milk AED 6.86 (CAD $2.55) CAD $3.73
1 liter of gas AED 3.16 (CAD $1.17) CAD $1.65
Annual tuition at an international primary school AED 49,107 (CAD $18,250) CAD $27,118
1 pair of jeans AED 224 (CAD $83) CAD $79
Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center AED 7,496 (CAD $2,786) CAD $2,604
Monthly rent for a 3-bedroom apartment outside of the city center AED 9,920 (CAD $3,687) CAD $3,550



Overall, you can expect to spend a little bit (4.2%) less in Dubai on consumer goods and services, including rent, than in Toronto, Canada.

Looking for a Job or Starting a Business in Dubai for Canadians

Dubai is an appealing destination for Canadians looking for employment opportunities or those with entrepreneurial aspirations. The city’s flourishing economy, strategic geographical position, and supportive business atmosphere create the ideal backdrop for pursuing career goals.

Moreover, several governmental programs and initiatives offer support for Canadians looking to work or launch their own businesses in Dubai.

Dubai Careers

This website serves as a hub for job listings spanning various industries, while the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) offers a specialized environment tailored to careers in business and finance.

Dubai Free Zones

These zones offer advantages, including 100% foreign ownership, tax exemptions, streamlined company establishments, and top-notch infrastructure. Examples include:

Business Incubators

Dubai has a number of business accelerators and incubators providing resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. Examples include:

Education System in Dubai for Canadians

Dubai offers a variety of international schools that follow Canadian or British curricula so that your children can continue their education within a familiar framework while embracing the multiculturalism of Dubai. Examples include:

Numerous universities in Canada, the US and the UK accept qualifications from international schools in Dubai. Graduates from these international schools can follow the standard admissions procedures for universities in Canada, the US, or the UK.

Visa Requirements of Dubai

Canadians who intend to reside and work in Dubai must obtain a residence visa and work permit.

A residence visa, also referred to as an employment visa or sponsorship visa, is needed to live and work in Dubai. Typically, this visa is secured through an employer or sponsor based in Dubai.

Nighttime Cityscape from a High-rise in Dubai, UAE

In addition to the residency visa, you must secure a work permit issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). The work permit is specifically tied to a designated job and employer and is valid for 2 years.

Initially, the residency visa is valid for a period of 1, 2 or 3 years for sponsored applicants, and up to 10 years for unsponsored applications. After that, these permits can be renewed, subject to the terms and conditions stipulated by the employer and governing authorities.

Generally, Canadians seeking a residency visa and work permit in Dubai should possess a confirmed employment offer from a Dubai-based employer. The employer acts as the sponsor and facilitates the visa application process.

During the application process, you may be required to:

  • Undergo medical examinations
  • Submit educational certificates, and
  • Fulfill specific employment-related criteria specified by the relevant authorities

On the other hand, if you plan to launch or invest in a business in Dubai, you must first obtain a Dubai investor visa. This visa will give you the right to live in the UAE, and to enter and leave as you wish during its validity.

Healthcare in Dubai

Foreign nationals, including Canadians living in Dubai, have access to a healthcare system with both public and private sectors. Dubai’s healthcare system is known for its modern infrastructure, state-of-the-art medical technology, and highly trained healthcare professionals.

As a foreign national, you will be required to have health insurance coverage, which guarantees a broad range of medical services when you need them, including:

  • Consultations
  • Treatments
  • Medications
  • Hospitalization

Many healthcare facilities in Dubai hold highly regarded international accreditations, underscoring their adherence to rigorous quality and safety standards. In case you don’t know, Dubai has gained popularity as a favorite medical tourism destination, further proving its global reputation.

Laws and Regulations in Dubai

Dubai has a civil law system that differs from Canada’s common law system, and judicial precedents do not carry the same weight that they do in Canada. Moreover, Dubai adheres to Islamic traditions and conservative cultural norms. Canadians in Dubai are advised to:

  • Show respect for local customs
  • Dress modestly
  • Refrain from public displays of affection

Moreover, Dubai imposes strict regulations on alcohol consumption and drug use. Canadians must adhere to these laws, which include obtaining a license for legal alcohol consumption. Needless to say, you should avoid any involvement with illicit drugs, in Dubai or elsewhere.

You should also maintain respectful and considerate public behavior. Activities considered offensive or indecent should be avoided, and these include:

  • Intoxication in public
  • Swearing in public
  • Disrespect towards religion or authorities

Finally, you must be careful regarding social media and online activities. Refrain from actions that can put you in legal hot water, such as posting or sharing content that could be deemed:

  • Offensive
  • Defamatory
  • Critical of the government or Islam

Culture and Social Norms in Dubai

Much like you expect foreigners to observe Canadian cultural norms when they are in Canada, Canadians living in Dubai should adhere to the culture and social norms prevalent in the city. Some of the key aspects are as follows:

Burj Al Arab Hotel, Iconic Luxury in Dubai, UAE

Islamic Traditions

Dubai observes Islamic customs, and Canadians should respect and show sensitivity towards them. It is crucial to understand and conform to local norms, such as dressing modestly in public and at religious sites.

Respect for Authority

Dubai places great emphasis on respecting authority figures, including government officials, law enforcement personnel, and local customs. Canadians should display courteous behavior and follow instructions from authorities.

Gender Roles

Dubai has defined gender roles rooted in traditional values of modesty and respect. Canadians should be mindful of these expectations and avoid behaviors that may be perceived as provocative.

Public Displays of Affection

Dubai adheres to conservative norms regarding public displays of affection. Canadians should refrain from engaging in intimate gestures in public, as these may be considered inappropriate, even offensive.


During Ramadan, Muslims observe fasting from sunrise to sunset. Canadians should respect this religious practice by refraining from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during fasting hours and being considerate towards those who are fasting.

Local Customs and Traditions

Canadians should generally familiarize themselves with local customs and traditions to demonstrate respect and prevent unintended offenses. This includes understanding appropriate greetings, forms of address, and cultural practices related to hospitality.

Expat Communities in Dubai for Canadians

Being part of a Canadian association or expat community allows you to integrate into the local society while preserving your Canadian identity. Two of these associations that you may consider joining are:

Developing friendships with fellow expats and locals can greatly enhance your experience and provide a deeper insight into the local culture, not to mention provide a networking opportunity.

Enjoying Dubai

What’s the point of going all the way to Dubai if you don’t have a good time there? Luckily, Dubai has so much to offer that you’ll wish you had more than 24 hours a day. Among the best ways to enjoy Dubai are:

Embrace the Local Culture

Immerse yourself in Emirati traditions and customs. Attend cultural events, visit museums, explore traditional markets (souks), and try out authentic Emirati Emirati dishes and traditional Arabic coffee.

Discover the City

Dubai offers a great variety of attractions and activities. Explore iconic landmarks like the Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah, satisfy the occasional shopaholic in you at world-class shopping malls, bask in the sun on stunning beaches, and embark on thrilling desert adventures.

Engage with Expat Communities

Connect with fellow Canadians and other expats in Dubai. Join expat organizations, attend social events, and participate in community activities. Make sure you’re on their radar.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities

Make good use of Dubai’s pleasant climate by engaging in outdoor activities. Enjoy water sports, go hiking or cycling, join fitness classes, or simply unwind in the city’s beautiful parks.

Venture Beyond Dubai

Explore the wider UAE and neighboring countries. Take weekend trips to Abu Dhabi, visit cultural sites in Sharjah, or venture further to experience Oman‘s rich heritage.

Marina Walk in Dubai, Scenic Waterfront, UAE

Frequently Asked Questions

Is English commonly understood in Dubai?

English is commonly understood and spoken in Dubai. Expats, locals, professionals, government officials, and people in the service industry generally have good English proficiency.

Is Dubai considered a safe place for expats?

Dubai is widely regarded as a safe city for expats due to its low crime rate and effective enforcement of laws and regulations. The government of Dubai places a strong emphasis on ensuring the safety and security of both residents and international visitors.

Does the UAE have a social security agreement with Canada?

There is no social security agreement between the UAE and Canada. These agreements aim to prevent double taxation and ensure that individuals who have worked in both nations can receive their rightful benefits.


Now that you have a better idea of what it takes to move to Dubai from Canada and what to expect in Dubai, we hope you’re ready to make up your mind. Uprooting from home is no small move, and we hope whichever way you decide, it will be an informed choice.

For those of you with friends and family across the border or across the pond who are similarly interested in moving to Dubai, we have written Moving to Dubai from The United States and Moving to Dubai from The United Kingdom.

And don’t forget to check out Moving to Dubai – A Comprehensive Guide for even more details about moving to the Emirates! After some time in Dubai, you may start pondering acquiring UAE citizenship, and How to Become a Citizen in Dubai will come in handy!

Dubai requires all residents to have health insurance. But with so many plans on the market, choosing the best medical insurance can be daunting for expats in Dubai, even if they know what the right considerations are.

Whether it’s expat health insurance or international health insurance, it’s vital to secure a plan that fulfills your family’s needs. Even if you are only visiting Dubai, you should secure travel insurance so you’ll get the financial help you need should something happen on your trip.

With 20+ years of experience in insurance, Pacific Prime is unsurpassed in its capacity to tailor a solution that meets your needs while fitting your budget, and you can have our advice and support at no extra cost compared to going straight to an insurer.

So contact us for a quote or a FREE, no-obligation plan comparison today!

Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Martin is a writer and translator with over 10 years of experience. He writes articles and blog posts, creates infographics and videos, translates between Chinese and English, and more. Skilled at explaining complicated concepts in layman’s terms, Martin believes the gold standard of translation is attained when the translated text is not only accurate, but also reads like an original text. Martin holds a degree in Economics from the University of London, UK.

Since joining Pacific Prime, Martin has become even more aware of the gap between the true value of insurance products and most people’s appreciation of it, and developed a passion for demystifying and simplifying matters, so that more people get the protection they need at a cost they can easily afford.

In his free time, Martin attends concerts of various genres, and plays the violin with piano accompaniment he pre-recorded himself or played live by his niece.
Martin Lee