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Al Ain, the UAE

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Mar 10, 2023

Summary: Al Ain, UAE is a peaceful oasis in the desert. Expats love the relaxed atmosphere, the friendly locals, and the abundance of outdoor activities. The weather in Al Ain is generally hot and dry, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the mid-90s Fahrenheit. The average cost of living for an expat is estimated to be around $2,000 per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $1,000 per month, while a two bedroom apartment is around $1,500 per month. The population of Al Ain is around 600,000.

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What do I need to know about living in Al Ain?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Al Ain, they said:

"Before retiring in Al Ain, expats should be aware of the local laws and regulations, as well as the cultural norms and expectations. It is important to research the cost of living in Al Ain, as well as the availability of healthcare and other services. Expats should also be aware of the climate in Al Ain, which is generally hot and dry, and plan accordingly. Additionally, expats should be aware of the local language, which is Arabic, and consider taking language classes to help with communication. Finally, expats should research the local job market and consider any visa requirements before retiring in Al Ain," said one expat in Al Ain.

"Do it! you will love it if you bring an open mind and some patience and don't expect things to be like it is 'at home'. The temperatures here are extreme - up to 58-60 degrees in summer! Winter is very pleasant," said one expat who made the move to Al Ain.

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What do I need to know before moving to Al Ain?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Al Ain, they said:

"Al Ain is a city in the United Arab Emirates located on the border with Oman. Expats should be aware that the city is quite conservative and that they should respect local customs and traditions. Expats should also be aware that the climate in Al Ain is very hot and dry, with temperatures often reaching over 40 degrees Celsius in the summer months. Additionally, expats should be aware that the cost of living in Al Ain is relatively low compared to other cities in the UAE. Finally, expats should be aware that English is widely spoken in Al Ain, making it easier to communicate with locals," said one expat who made the move to Al Ain.

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How do I find a place to live in Al Ain?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"One of the best ways to find a place to live in Al Ain is to search online for rental listings. There are many websites that offer listings of apartments, villas, and other types of housing in the area. Additionally, you can search for real estate agents in Al Ain who specialize in helping people find rental properties. You can also ask friends and family who live in the area for recommendations. Finally, you can visit the area in person to get a better sense of the different neighborhoods and to find a place that fits your needs," explained one expat living in Al Ain, the UAE.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Al Ain?

"Expat homes and apartments in Al Ain are typically modern and spacious, with large windows and balconies that offer stunning views of the city. Many of the apartments come with amenities such as air conditioning, swimming pools, and gyms. The interiors are often decorated with contemporary furniture and appliances, and the buildings are well-maintained and secure. Expats in Al Ain can also enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and exploring the nearby desert," explained one expat living in Al Ain, the UAE.

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What is the average cost of housing in Al Ain?

If you are thinking about moving to Al Ain, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in Al Ain varies depending on the size and location of the property. Generally, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Al Ain is around AED 3,000 to AED 4,000 per month, while a two-bedroom apartment can cost up to AED 5,000 to AED 6,000 per month. Prices for larger properties can range from AED 7,000 to AED 10,000 per month," remarked one expat who made the move to Al Ain.

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How do I meet people in Al Ain?

When we asked people living in Al Ain about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Expats living in Al Ain can join a variety of clubs and activities, such as sports clubs, book clubs, and language classes. Expats can also meet people by attending local events, such as festivals, concerts, and art exhibitions. Additionally, many expats find it helpful to join online forums and social media groups related to their interests, as well as attending meet-ups and networking events," said one expat in Al Ain.

"Major international hotels are (in order of my preference) the Intercontinental, Hilton, Rotana, Mercure Jebel Hafeet. The Palm Resort has a Rugby Club and Golf Club and both are good value. Have a look at the Living in Al Ain thread on the British Expats site in the Middle East Forum, it is a very popular thread and full of information about events, schooling, life in general," said one expat who made the move to Al Ain.

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What should I bring when moving to Al Ain?

People living in Al Ain were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"When moving to Al Ain, it is important to pack items that will help you adjust to the climate and culture. Pack light, breathable clothing that will keep you cool in the hot desert climate. Bring a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. Bring comfortable shoes for walking in the sand. Bring a few items of traditional clothing to show respect for the local culture. Bring a water bottle and sunscreen to stay hydrated and protected from the sun. Additionally, bring any necessary medications and toiletries. Finally, don't forget to bring your passport and other important documents," wrote a member in Al Ain.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Al Ain?

We asked expats in Al Ain what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"Before retiring in Al Ain, expats should be aware of the local laws and regulations, as well as the cultural norms and expectations. It is important to research the cost of living in Al Ain, as well as the availability of healthcare and other services. Expats should also be aware of the climate in Al Ain, which is generally hot and dry, and plan accordingly. Additionally, expats should be aware of the language barrier, as Arabic is the official language of the UAE. Finally, expats should be aware of the visa requirements for retirement in Al Ain, as well as the process for obtaining a residence permit," remarked one expat who made the move to Al Ain.

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Will I be able to find a job in Al Ain?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Al Ain, they reponded:

"Foreigners often have jobs in Al Ain such as teaching, engineering, hospitality, healthcare, finance, and IT. They may also work in retail, construction, and other service industries. Additionally, many foreigners find employment in the oil and gas industry," explained one expat living in Al Ain, the UAE.

"It seems to get a job here (that pays anywhere near a decent wage) you must have a degree (minimum) qualification. Usually you will apply for a job from outside the country and come in under the sponsorship of an employer. If your spouse or partner wants to find work it is available, but you won't have the selection of jobs that you will have in the West.And there is no job advertising so word of mouth is how you will find one. You really have to talk to a lot of people," said one expat in Al Ain.

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What is life like in Al Ain?

When we asked people living in Al Ain what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Al Ain is a great destination for expats and digital nomads looking for a unique experience in the United Arab Emirates. The city is known for its rich culture, stunning desert landscapes, and modern amenities. Expats and digital nomads can enjoy a variety of activities, from exploring the city's historical sites to taking part in outdoor activities such as sandboarding and camel riding. The city also offers a wide range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. With its low cost of living, Al Ain is an attractive destination for expats and digital nomads looking for a comfortable and affordable lifestyle," wrote one member in Al Ain.

"Al Ain is a great city to live in and offers many things to see and do. Expats get together frequently for quiz nights, to watch sporting events, meet for coffee in the malls. Life is varied and interesting," remarked one expat who made the move to Al Ain.

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What do expats in Al Ain appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expats in Al Ain appreciate the hospitality of the local culture, which is reflected in the warm welcome they receive from the locals. They also appreciate the traditional Emirati cuisine, which is a mix of Middle Eastern and Indian flavors. Additionally, expats enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the city, which is a great place to unwind and enjoy the outdoors. Finally, expats appreciate the cultural diversity of Al Ain, which is home to people from all over the world," explained one expat living in Al Ain, the UAE.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats in Al Ain often find the local culture to be quite different from what they are used to. Many find the conservative dress code and social norms to be challenging, as well as the lack of public displays of affection. Additionally, the language barrier can be difficult for some expats, as Arabic is the official language of the UAE. Expats may also find the hot and humid climate to be difficult to adjust to," explained one expat living in Al Ain, the UAE.

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Is there a lot of crime in Al Ain?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Al Ain is generally considered to be a safe city, with low levels of crime. The city is well-policed and has a strong security presence, making it a safe place to live and visit. However, as with any city, there are some areas where crime is more common, and visitors should take precautions to ensure their safety," said one expat who made the move to Al Ain.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Al Ain accepting of differences?

"There is definitely a lot of diversity. The universities, private schools (K-12), and hospitals are one reason for a lot of diversity and a lot of Westerners in Al Ain. A lot of Arabic and East-Asian nationalities are employed in Al Ain. However, there is an over abundance of men, living far from their families, often milling around down town Al Ain on their day off from work. The country as a whole is tolerant of the diversity and Western Ways (to a limit). Women should be sensitive to the imbalance of the genders, and all should be respectful of the local culture and customs," remarked one expat who made the move to Al Ain.

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What are the schools in Al Ain like?

"Al Ain is home to a number of excellent international and bilingual schools. The International School of Choueifat Al Ain is a top-rated international school offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. It is a co-educational school with a strong focus on academic excellence and the development of the whole child. The school also offers a range of extra-curricular activities and sports. The Al Ain American Private School is a bilingual school offering an American curriculum with an emphasis on English language learning. The school has a strong focus on developing the whole child, with a range of extra-curricular activities and sports. The Al Ain English Speaking School is a British-style school offering the National Curriculum of England and Wales. The school has a strong focus on academic excellence and the development of the whole child. It also offers a range of extra-curricular activities and sports. The Al Ain Japanese School is a bilingual school offering a Japanese curriculum with an emphasis on English language learning. The school has a strong focus on developing the whole child, with a range of extra-curricular activities and sports. The Al Ain French School is a bilingual school offering a French curriculum with an emphasis on English language learning. The school has a strong focus on developing the whole child, with a range of extra-curricular activities and sports," commented one expat when asked about in Al Ain.

"We encourage parents who care about providing their children with good academic and discipline standards to enrol them at MADAR," explained one expat in Al Ain, UAE with kids at MADAR International School.

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What are the pros and cons of living in Al Ain?

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Al Ain responded:

"Expats and digital nomads living in Al Ain enjoy the city for its slower pace of life compared to major metropolises such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They are also attracted to the fact that Al Ain still operates a small-town feel, with a strong sense of community that makes it a desirable place to live. Additionally, the city's close proximity to some of the UAE's most stunning natural beauty, such as Jebel Hafeet Mountain and Al Ain Oasis, make it attractive to outdoor enthusiasts. On the other hand, some expats and digital nomads find the lack of nightlife disappointing and the restrictions on alcohol difficult to adjust to. Additionally, the summers are extremely hot and humid, which can make living in Al Ain a challenge," commented one expat who moved to Al Ain.

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What type of social life can someone expect in Al Ain?

When we asked expats and global nomads about their social experiences in Al Ain, they replied:

"Expats, retirees, and digital nomads living in Al Ain typically have a rich and vibrant social life. Many enjoy meeting and socialising with other expats, retirees, and digital nomads at local cafes and bars or exploring the city's many attractions, like Al Ain Zoo and Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Palace Museum. Additionally, there are many expat-focused activities and events in Al Ain, such as sports clubs, movie nights, and weekly meetups. The city also has a variety of international restaurants, offering delicious regional cuisines from around the world, providing yet another opportunity for social interaction," commented one expat living in Al Ain, the UAE.

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"Al Ain is the fourth-largest city in the United Arab Emirates and offers a diverse social scene to cater to its rich culture. There are plenty of options for entertainment and nightlife such as bars, clubs, lounges and cinemas. Hiking is also popular and the nearby Hajar Mountains provide a stunning backdrop for trips away from the city. The area also offers a variety of traditional markets, bazaars and shopping malls. There is also the Al Ain Oasis, the largest oasis in the UAE, which provides a peaceful getaway. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes and food markets offering both international and local delicacies. With its rich history, culture and beautiful parks and beaches, Al Ain offers plenty of opportunities to socialise and explore," said an expat in Al Ain.

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What advice to expats in Al Ain have about housing?

"When looking for a house in Al Ain, it is important to conduct thorough research regarding rental agreements, utilities, and local infrastructure. It is also highly recommended to tour any potential properties in person and to consult with a local real estate agent if possible. Make sure to factor in additional costs associated with transport, such as fuel or taxi rides for shopping and other activities. Finally, make sure to read all documentation carefully before signing a rental lease so that all responsibilities are clear," mentioned an expat living in Al Ain.

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What are medical services in Al Ain like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Al Ain, they replied:

"Al Ain boasts a wide range of medical services, with high-quality public and private hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic centers across the city. The government-run hospitals feature up-to-date medical technology and a multidisciplinary staff of highly trained doctors, nurses, technicians, and pharmacists. Private facilities offer specialized care to those seeking a more personalized experience. Many private providers also offer comprehensive health insurance packages customized to fit individual needs. Moreover, Al Ain is home to numerous alternative medical care providers, such as natural and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, complementary and integrative medicine clinics, and holistic health care centers," remarked one expat living in Al Ain.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Al Ain?

"Healthcare in Al Ain can be relatively expensive. However, the cost depends on a variety of factors such as the type of insurance and provider. Health insurance is also costly and premiums can vary depending on the coverage. Many employers in the area provide health insurance for their employees which can be cheaper than individual policies. Overall, health care and health insurance in Al Ain, UAE are generally more expensive than other locations in the region," said an expat in Al Ain.

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Is the cost of living in Al Ain high?

We asked people about the cost of living in Al Ain, they wrote:

"The cost of living in Al Ain is generally lower than in some of the other major cities in the UAE. Rent prices tend to be lower than those of other cities, with a one bedroom apartment typically costing around $400 to $600 per month and a two bedroom apartment costing around $650 to $1200 per month. Eating out at moderately priced restaurants tends to be more affordable as well, with a meal for two people typically costing around $15 to $30," mentioned an expat living in Al Ain.

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What are the visa & residency requirements in Al Ain?

"To obtain a visa for Al Ain, a valid passport and other identity documents are generally required. Applications for a visa can be made through a sponsor, such as an employer or a family member already residing in the UAE. The process of this application is done online as well as off-line, depending on the country and size of the application. For those wishing to establish residency in Al Ain, the process can vary depending on the reason and length of the stay. Generally, an individual must apply for an initial residency visa first, which is then followed by a residence permit application. This process can require a valid employment contract, a sponsor, and some documentation related to the purpose of their stay. Once this residency is granted, it must be renewed every year," mentioned one expat inAl Ain.

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Why do people move to Al Ain?

When we asked people why foreigners move to Al Ain, they responded:

"Al Ain is an attractive destination for expats due to its proximity to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the modern infrastructure and vibrant cultural landscape. With its low cost of living and financial attractiveness, Al Ain provides an excellent lifestyle for expats looking for a warm, sunny climate and a unique Middle Eastern experience. With its wide range of educational and healthcare facilities, Al Ain is an attractive destination for expats looking for a safe and secure environment in which to live and work. In addition, the many leisure activities and attractions, from camel riding to spectacular sand dunes, make Al Ain a great destination for expats looking to explore the natural and cultural riches of the United Arab Emirates," said one expat living in Al Ain.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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