The United Arab Emirates, or UAE, is a beacon of ultra-modern elegance and a showplace of the world’s wealthiest, who enjoy the ultimate in luxury lifestyles. 

Its most iconic cities, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are a seemingly never-ending expanse of towering skyscrapers, lavish hotels, sprawling shopping centers, gourmet dining experiences, and ultra-exclusive residential communities.

Meanwhile, at a deeper level, the UAE is a strategic gateway to unparalleled business opportunities, financial services, and real estate investments. 

And yet, underneath it all, traditional Arabian culture underpins daily life.

However, that is not to suggest the UAE lacks internationalism. In fact, it exudes it. 

A brief overview of the UAE

Envision a landscape where glistening glass towers reflect the timeless beauty of desert dunes—that is, the United Arab Emirates.

Located at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Africa, the UAE is comprised of seven emirates:

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Dubai
  • Sharjah
  • Ajman
  • Fujairah
  • Ras al-Khaimah
  • Umm al-Quwain

Each governed by its own ruling family and offering a distinct set of attractions and characteristics. 

Since its formation in 1971, the UAE has undergone a remarkable transformation from a quiet backwater of small trading and fishing communities to one of the most developed economies in the world. 

The discovery of oil in 1958 was the paradigm shift that catapulted this desert outpost into a global hub of wealth, business, and excess.

Due to the fact that the government has strategically tried to diversify the economy in recent years, sectors like tourism, finance, and technology are growing and gaining international prominence.

However, the UAE is not just about economic prosperity. 

It’s a genuine melting pot of cultures – expats outnumber local Emiratis 9 to 1. 

This diversity is reflected in the country’s culinary scene, cultural events, and social life, making it a cosmopolitan oasis in the midst of the Middle East.

Why move to the UAE?

We find most people are drawn to the UAE for four reasons:

  • Quality of Life: While life in the UAE is synonymous with luxury, the country is equally committed to excelling in  healthcare, education, public safety, and infrastructure, offering residents an exceptional quality of life
  • Business Opportunities: Fueled by oil wealth and a mission of diversification, the UAE boasts a dynamic and resilient economy with a vision for innovation, esp. in technology (green-led initiatives to mitigate desertification), tourism, and real estate
  • Tax Optimization: A globally renowned tax haven with no taxes on personal or corporate income, capital gains, dividends, or inheritance
  • Real Estate Investing: Offering a wide range of luxury opportunities, from high-rise penthouses in Dubai to beachfront properties in Abu Dhabi, trusted developers launch new residential and commercial projects almost daily

The takeaway is that the UAE has a unique combination of strategic advantages, economic opportunities, and lifestyle factors that are hard to find anywhere else.

Where to live in the UAE?

The value proposition that is the UAE is all about location – not so much its location, but the one you choose to invest in. 

Abu Dhabi

As the capital of the UAE and the largest emirate, Abu Dhabi exudes sophistication, wealth, and technology.

It’s home to major cultural sites, including the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. 

Annually, Abu Dhabi hosts the F1 at the Yas Marina circuit, a headliner for Abu Dhabi’s investment in leisure and entertainment

In Abu Dhabi, there are two main property choices: traditional villas and luxury apartments. 

Both are abundant, with features like integrated tennis courts, private gyms, and swimming pools.

The more challenging choice is which suburb is right for you. Abu Dhabi has several distinct neighborhoods, and it can be challenging for newbies to decide between them.

Astons’ HNW clients tend to be drawn to:

  • Downtown Abu Dhabi
  • Al Reem Island
  • Saadiyat Island
  • Khalifa City


While Abu Dhabi is the country’s capital, Dubai is the largest city – and potentially its most famous. 

An urban skyline of Impressive, modern buildings frame the distant desert.

A city of jewels, the crown gem – the Burj Khalifa – holds the record for being the world’s tallest building, a record it has held for nearly 15 years.

The city oozes with luxury lifestyle options; high-end shopping, vibrant nightlife, and lavish hotels are just the tip of this desert iceberg. 

Possibly more famous than constructing the world’s tallest building, Dubai has built man-made islands, such as the Palm Jumeirah – the UAE’s most popular tourist destination.

Areas like Mirdif, Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Hills, and Downtown Dubai are the most sought-after addresses for HNWIs. 

Like Abu Dhabi, the choice is mainly between chic apartments and multi-floor penthouses to sprawling villas. 

However, it is important to note how Dubai differs from Abu Dhabi. 

Abu Dhabi is considered more traditional – calm, safe, and family-oriented. 

While also a safe place to live, Dubai is generally considered more lively, fast-paced, and cosmopolitan.

Other prestigious addresses

Of course, there’s more to the UAE than Abu Dhabi and Dubai. 

The Emirate of Sharjah – the UAE’s third largest city – is experiencing a swell in demand as investors look for alternative property markets in the UAE – official data for 2023 shows a 165% increase in purchases by foreign buyers.

Fujairah is distinguished by its scenic beauty – the nearby Hajar Mountains are a truly stunning sight. 

Fujairah City is a 21st-century metropolis on the Gulf of Oman, and like Sharjah, it is making inroads into real estate, hospitality, and tourism.

In the north of the country, Ras al-Khaimah is rapidly emerging as a highly desirable destination—primarily for UHNW entrepreneurs, investors, and families. 

Al Hamra Village and Mina Al Arab are proving particularly attractive due to their exclusive properties and leisure facilities, including golf courses and marinas. 

The UAE luxury lifestyle


Traditional Emirati cuisine is known for its aromatic spices. Dishes often feature rice, meat (typically lamb or chicken), and seafood.

Traditional Emirati specialties include:

  • Al Harees (a simple yet decadent dish of meat and wheat slow-cooked in a clay pot)
  • Al Majboos (spicy rice with meat or fish)
  • Shawarma (succulent grilled meat which has become a favorite all over the world)

More recently, the UAE’s culinary scene has been catapulted onto the international stage. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become home to many Michelin-starred restaurants and celebrity chefs.

As of early 2024, Dubai had 14 Michelin-starred restaurants, including their 2-star venues:

  • Tresind Studio, The Palm Jumeirah: Uber-exclusive [only 20 seats] Indian-focused tasting menu in a stunning rooftop setting
  • Il Ristorante-Niko Romito, Jumeirah Bay Island: Part of the lavish Bulgari Resort Hotel, Chef Giacomo Amicucci creates modern, freshly-made Italian food at its finest
  • STAY by Yannick Alléno, The Palm Jumeirah: A French-inspired menu set in a truly gorgeous old-world property with views of Dubai’s downtown skyline

In Abu Dhabi, there are four 1-star restaurants:

  • Hakkasan –  Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental Hotel
  • Talea by Antonio Guida – Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental Hotel
  • Erth – Al Hosn
  • 99 Sushi Bar – Four Seasons Al Maryah Island Hotel

Beyond these high-profile names, the UAE has hidden gems and local eateries.

The nation’s coastal regions boast exceptional seafood, bringing tantalizing fresh catch-of-the-day delicacies. 

The traditional desert feasts, such as those found in Bedouin-style camps, are at the heart of authentic Emirati dining. A taste of Emirati hospitality and cuisine in one meal. 


It would be remiss to discuss the UAE dining scene without mentioning the brunches.

Brunch in the UAE is unlike any you may have experienced elsewhere. 

It’s a cultural spectacle that is ​​as much about socializing as it is about dining. It’s an opportunity to dress up, meet friends, and enjoy the start of the weekend in style. 

Hosted in the most extravagant 5-star hotels, brunches are an all-day event.

The cocktails flow, dine on a smorgasbord of perfectly cooked delicacies, and celebrate the weekend with DJ sets, live bands, and traditional performances.

The most chic brunches are hosted by the resorts and hotels that operate other ‘be seen’ facilities, such as spas, wellness centers, and private gyms.  


As you might expect from a country with extreme wealth, an extensive coastline, and great weather, the UAE is a superyacht hub with several state-of-the-art marinas.

Dubai stands out as the centerpiece. Iconic marinas like Dubai Marina and the exclusive Dubai Creek Harbour are not just marinas but lifestyle destinations, with easy access to high-end dining, shopping, and vibrant nightlife. 

The city also hosts the Dubai International Boat Show, an annual event featuring the latest innovations and designs from prestigious shipyards and superyacht builders.

Meanwhile, Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi is unique for its proximity to the Formula 1 circuit and comprehensive facilities (catering to yachts up to 150 meters).


Golf has become a major sport and hobby in the UAE.

With nearly two dozen courses to choose from, more are on the way—including a $1bn private, members-only course that’s attracting US investors

The UAE has a long-standing association with championship-level golf due to the quality and experience of its courses. 

The DP World Tour Championship is a major annual event in the UAE, and past winners include Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm.

In the UAE, the passion known as the Gentlemen’s Game can be enjoyed in the desert, on an island, or as an element of your overall 5-star accommodation:

  • Emirates Golf Club, Dubai: Home to the Dubai Desert Classic, this prestigious club features two of the city’s most renowned courses – the Majlis and the Faldo 
  • Abu Dhabi Golf Club: Famous for hosting the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, its 27 holes of championship golf paired with exceptional leisure facilities
  • Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai: This estate features two Greg Norman-designed courses, Fire and Earth – the Earth course hosts the DP World Tour Championship, part of the Rolex Series
  • Yas Links, Abu Dhabi: Located on iconic Yas Island, this course is renowned for being the first true links course in the Middle East. Designed by Kyle Phillips, it combines the rolling hills and undulating fairways of traditional links courses with the unique desert climate
  • Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi: Designed by Gary Player, this course is set against the beautiful shores of Saadiyat Island and is part of a luxurious & exclusive resort community 

Private education

With such a large expat population, there is significant demand for private international education in the UAE, particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. 

The UAE’s international schools predominantly teach in English, offer various international curriculums, and are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, seasoned faculty, and comprehensive extracurricular programs.

Notable institutions include:

  • Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS), Dubai
  • Dubai American Academy
  • British School Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi
  • Raha International School, Abu Dhabi
  • GEMS Wellington International School, Dubai

UAE business & finance

Most entrepreneurs and investors migrate to the UAE for tax optimization.

The absence of personal income and corporate tax [except foreign banks and oil companies] is a significant benefit of living in a desert paradise. 

Plus, there are over 40 free zones across the Emirates that fuel entrepreneurship by allowing 100% foreign ownership, full repatriation of profits, no import or export duties, and no currency restrictions.

Furthermore, the UAE government has various support mechanisms for startups and SMEs, including incubators, accelerators, and funding programs. 

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund and Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development are just two examples of initiatives designed to stimulate innovation.

Astons – Taming the Gulf Tiger for HNW clients

For full-time physical residency, the UAE is not for everyone. 

For investment and tax optimization, it should be on everyone’s list of considerations.

And that is the beauty of the UAE Golden Visa program—you can enjoy all the benefits of the Emirates without having to change anything about your daily life.

In less than a month, any HNW entrepreneur, investor, or family can harness the power of the UAE for their portfolio—leveraging the right to invest, live, conduct business, or simply use the UAE as a passive revenue stream.

Schedule your Free Confidential and Comprehensive Consultation today.