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Is It A Good Idea For NRIs To Retire In Dubai?

By Hemant Beniwal

Why Financial Planning?

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it NOW.

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Dubai has recently launched the ‘Retire in Dubai’ scheme. Under this scheme, foreigners over the age of 55 will be eligible for a five-year renewable visa if they meet certain criteria. The primary criteria of the ‘Retire in Dubai’ scheme are –

  • Monthly income of 20,000 dirhams (around US$5,445) and
  • Savings of 1 million dirhams (around US$ 272,000)

OR

  • Own property in Dubai worth 2 million dirhams

The person will also have to acquire health insurance in the UAE and cannot expect any benefits from the government.

nri retire in dubai

NRI Retire in Dubai

Dubai’s economy is on a downturn with COVID-19. Expatriates are returning home or looking at another destination as their stay in the UAE depends on their employment and business. The UAE wants to retain its expatriates who have purchasing power and also enhance the emirate’s position as a key global investment destination. Expats in the UAE can work up to the age of 60 years and in some cases up to 65 years. The scheme aims to encourage these ex-pats to retire and settle in the UAE.

Indians constitute the largest ex-pat population in Dubai. Indians form around 27% of the total population of the UAE.

NRIs like Dubai for many reasons –

  • Proximity to India – Most cities in India can be reached by flight in 3-4 hours. People like the connectivity and the advantage of flying back home whenever required.
  • Cultural Aspects – Indians have been living there for many years so there are well-established cultural associations. Indian festivals are celebrated with gusto. Many places of worship for different religions exist in Dubai. There is a wide and strong social network of Indians. Dubai hosts many high-quality entertainment acts from across the world.
  • Food – You get good quality dishes of every Indian cuisine easily, which is not easily possible in many other countries.
  • Security and Cleanliness – It is a safe place with a low crime rate. Women like the secure and liberated environment provided there. Dubai is known for its cleanliness and hygienic conditions.
  • Financial aspects – Many Indians move to Dubai for better financial prospects. They earn more and have to pay almost zero tax. They can also build a lifestyle they aspire for which may not be possible in India.

So is it a good idea for NRIs to apply for this visa?

Check –Best Places to Retire in India

Should NRIs Retire in Dubai

Many Indians like living abroad for various reasons. Let us look at the advantages of living in Dubai –

  • Some Indians have children studying in countries in the Western hemisphere, and Dubai is closer to them. Others who have lived in the UAE have children studying in the UAE or working in the UAE. They would like an opportunity to live closer to their children.
  • Dubai has an established transport system and good infrastructure. Petrol is cheap. It is a developed country that has adopted sophisticated technology in all walks of life. You can have a high standard of living there.
  • As mentioned, earlier it is not very far from India and one can easily travel between the UAE and India.
  • Many expats set up trading outfits in Dubai, which is a tax haven so that their profits can be parked here.
  • There is no income tax in Dubai, and that translates into a better lifestyle, higher savings, and more investments.
  • It is an easy place to set up a home or a business as everything is time-bound and process-driven. Technology is used in most processes and so they are efficient and streamlined.
  • The cost and terms of retirement for the visa are more favourable compared to countries like the US.

“Retirement is not literally about ‘not working’, but simply about the flexibility that comes from not needing to work, and having the freedom to do whatever you want & whenever you want.” wiseNRI

But there are cons of living in Dubai as well –

  • The cost of living in Dubai is very high. As a retiree, it may not make sense to have such excessive expenditure unless one is very wealthy.
  • The visa granted under the ‘Retire in Dubai’ scheme is for only five years. The terms of renewability are not defined properly. If your visa is not renewed, you may be at a loss as to your place of stay and in terms of financial investment for the visa.
  • Medical insurance for a person above 55 years will be expensive. Moreover, medical facilities and healthcare in Dubai are quite expensive.
  • Dubai has a hot desert climate and that means summers are extremely hot and humid. The climate may not be suitable for all people to live in.
  • The cost of the visa is exorbitant, and terms are not the most favourable. Countries like Portugal, Costa Rica, and Malaysia offer better terms (e.g. permanent residency, no restriction on age limit) and ask for lesser financial investment.
  • Dubai’s economy is not doing very well. Real estate is on a downtrend. It has to be seen how the emirate will bounce back in the economic sense. If the economy does not go on an uptrend, it may not make sense to live there.

should nri retire in dubai

Read – Planning to Retire in India – 5 easy steps

Indians who are living in Dubai and look to continue staying there may find the scheme favourable. Indians who are looking to settle abroad and desire proximity to India will also be tempted by the scheme.

The scheme was launched just this month and so the details and execution of the same may still be unclear and will get concrete in some time. It might be a good idea to adopt a wait and watch policy before trying to get the visa. Watch this space for updates!

Please share your view if you plan to Retire in Dubai or some other place outside India.

nri retire in dubai
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Hemant Beniwal


Hemant Beniwal is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and his Company Ark Primary Advisors Pvt Ltd is registered as an Investment Adviser with SEBI. Hemant is also a member of the Financial Planning Association, U.S.A and registered as a life planner with Kinder Institute of Life Planning, U.S.A. He started his Financial Planning Practice in 2009 & is among the first generation of financial planners in India. He also authored Bestseller book "Financial Life Planning". 

  • Having lived in the Gulf for over 20 years, it is important to point out that the Sharia system of law applies and that all legal proceedings are in Arabic. The locals are always shown much more leniency and therefore justice is not always ensured.

  • “Dubai is the best city in the world”

    This is a statement from nationals of advanced economies in Europe.

    – Over 100 nationalities live in peace and harmony. UAE is actively working to promote religious harmony. There are 45 Churches. Dubai Hindu temple is currently informal and does not have a temple design. Many Indian communities, including Buddhist & Jain listen to visiting religious preachers in private halls and homes. Vipassana Centre conducts 10 day residential courses monthly. A major Swaminarayan temple is under construction in Abu Dhabi. (As may be known the Abrahamic religions arose out of opposition to worship of idols and images as the Divine is supposed to be formless.)
    – Knowledge of Arabic is totally unnecessary. Knowledge of Malayalam is beneficial because all office boys in Government departments are Malayali. They are very helpful and can help if if you ever need any help. The Malayali are very enterprising and can understand Arabic (besides Hindi). That is how they communicate with their Arab managers.
    – A very high level of efficiency in government services.
    – High levels of politeness and courtesy when dealing with patrolling police. Police will try and speak in Urdu/Hindi besides English.
    – Citizens of UAE are very civilised and courteous
    – Highest levels of safety for person and property.
    – All residents are very civil in their behaviour. Unruly behaviour is not tolerated. Fighting is almost never seen. People behave themselves.
    – Infastructure of Dubai is at par with the best modern cities including modern cities of China. Infrastructure of Dubai is very new, in comparison say to infrastructure of USA which is very old.
    – Cost of living in Dubai compares very favourably with that of advanced economies like UK and Western Europe. 2 BHK accomodation with free aircon chiller included is available to rent @ $ 23-25k now. Rentals are expected to remain low for several years given cheap oil, a slow economy and surplus accomodation, both ready to let and under construction. Other costs of living would be in the region of $ 15-20k max. In addition consider medical insurance. For a couple below age 60 this would be $ 5k per couple per annum. Obviously as you age the premiums would increase.

    Absence of tax is a saving which helps more the higher the bracket one is in.

    If you enjoy reasonably good health then you are bound to find plenty of Indian social groups since 35% plus population is from India and 50% if one includes neighbours from Indian sub-continent.

    Obviously the bigger your budget the more you can spend on activities like Golf, Yachting, Desert Safari etc etc

    Else there are plenty of beautiful and free public parks & beaches.

    The weather is great 24 x 7 during the 7 months from October-April
    For 3 months of May, Jun, July we can enjoy exercising outdoors before 9am and after 6pm
    For 2 peak summer months of Jul-Aug it is best to enjoy walks inside one of the many shopping malls.

  • I am 62 yrs old doctor and just retired frm MOH saudi arabia after serving for 33 yrs..wants to retire in safe and crime free country,ready to invest US $ 250,000 pls give your choices with all pros and cons

  • I am 65 years of age, a NRI and will retire.
    In case I plan to shift to Dubai on retirement visa:

    Monthly income of USD5,500 and a saving of USD272,000 is not a big issue.
    My questions are:
    1. Can one survive at monthly income of USD 5,500? Does this include house rent etc.?
    2. What is Medical Insurance cost?
    3. No income tax in Dubai, is understood, but if I retire and stay in Dubai, my income will be taxed in India. Is this true? Will I still be considered as NRI?

    • Hi Rakesh,

      1) Living expenses varies from person to person thus it will be difficult to say if this amount will be substantial or not.
      2) It will depend on the coverage a person is opting for.
      3) Yes, you will be considered as NRI and it will taxed as per the DTAA.

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