Get to work.


Things (obviously) are different in the UAE. Life here has many advantages – tax-free living, a progressive national population, excellent career opportunities in specialized fields – and, as such, the Emirates have put a number of procedures in place to curb illegal immigration. Because of this, any person hired to work or approved to live in the UAE has to undergo a series of medical tests and processes in order to obtain an Emirates ID card. This card is more official than the US equivalent of the driver’s license. In nearly any transaction of business – opening a bank account, obtaining utility services, subscribing to cable and internet packages, purchasing a mobile phone – you are required to show your Emirates ID (and, in some cases, your original passport and residency visa). While I suspect some people try it, it would be very difficult to live in the UAE without this card.

Having gone through this process, I realize how much I have taken for granted that I have mostly lived and worked in the country of my birth. The most bureaucracy I’ve dealt with is changing my driver’s license from one state to another. And it made me appreciate that there are people willing to wrestle the red tape to bring us their talents and perspectives – both here and in the US. And it made me especially appreciative of the fact that I was fortunate enough to be hired by a company that has employees specifically designated to walk expats such as myself through these procedures. If I had to navigate the windy streets of obtaining my residency documents myself, I probably would have returned home by now. I guess this is another way the UAE prevents illegal immigrants…