The local currency in the UAE is the dirham (AED or Dhs). It's tied to the US dollar at a rate of 3.6725 and is currently (October 2011) at a rate of about six against the pound sterling.
Most expats are paid in dirhams but - depending on the nationality of your company - your salary may also be paid in dollars or sterling. Anything you earn will also be tax free, as there are currently no income tax laws in the UAE.
Cost of living:
The cost of living in the UAE has increased massively over the last few years and can be roughly equated to living in a major international city. However, it's possible to make savings in other areas - such as where you buy groceries - to keep your overall cost of living down. For
example, the price of a loaf of bread can vary between 2.00 Dhs and 4.00 Dhs.
One of the biggest costs is rent, which will probably account for around 40% to 50% of your total cost of living.
Rental prices vary widely and have increased a great deal in recent years (particularly in Dubai) but there are choices to fit all needs and budgets - from expensive villas with swimming pools to compact studio apartments.
Previously in the UAE, you would have been expected to pay rent annually all in one go. Thankfully, landlords are becoming more flexible and you can now pay in smaller instalments
using post-dated cheques.
Some landlords use agencies, in which case you may find yourself paying an agency fee. This can be anything from 5% to 15% of the annual rent so make sure you check in advance.
Dubai is often considered to be a cheaper place to live than Abu Dhabi, particularly if you live in ‘New Dubai’ amongst all the sky-scrapers. However, bear in mind that living further out means you’ll need to invest in a car.
Average apartment prices range from 17,000 Dhs per year to 95,000 Dhs per year. Villas tend to be much grander; they often have private gardens and swimming pools and are subsequently much more expensive.