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Burj Khalifa with Downtown Dubai in the back.

With expatriates making up 90% of the UAE’s population, the country has had to develop and implement various procedures to ensure that it’s bringing in the right people. The UAE may not offer citizenship to international workers, but it does offer long-term visas, allowing expatriates to live there for decades, raise families, and send their kids to its prestigious local universities.

More than two-thirds of expatriates in the UAE stay for more than five years, and this duration is increasing as the country reduces cost of living and improves quality of life.

The Need For Skilled Expatriates

The country’s diverse population is its backbone; much of its development over the last three decades can be accredited to international workers who call the UAE their home. Expatriates make up the majority of the workforce in all private firms across all industries.

The UAE’s ability to invest in the right projects has allowed it to survive all kinds of financial pitfalls. During the 2008 recession, the country was able to recover quicker than other countries in the area. It created job opportunities and attracted enough expatriates to revive its economy.

In 2020, when the entire world is once again experiencing an economic recession, the UAE is all set to turn things around. Experts claim that it will be making a V-shaped recovery very soon.

Will the UAE Be Downsizing Expatriate Workforces?

Expat family playing soccer in Dubai during sunset.

Unlike Kuwait and some other countries in the Arabian Gulf, the UAE doesn’t intend to downsize its expatriate population as a response to the pandemic. Kuwaiti officials have said that they’re looking to reduce the expatriate population from 70-30% within the next two years—the UAE has no such plans.

The UAE is allowing expatriates to take extended breaks from their jobs until things get better, but it isn’t laying off large numbers of people. In fact, Abu Dhabi is trying to bring down the cost of living to attract international workers.  

Like other parts of the world, the pandemic took a toll on the UAE, but the country is expected to make a quick return.

Why Should I Move to the UAE?

Woman standing on Abu Dhabi beach.

Once the economy stabilizes, expatriates can once again start searching for jobs in the country and take advantage of the professional growth it offers. The UAE’s biggest appeal is that it’s tax-free and offers high quality of life.

The country prides itself on building a healthy community where expats and locals live side-by-side with no conflict. Compared to many of its neighbors, the UAE is surprisingly liberal, making it a favorite sport for expats and tourists from all over the globe.

Visa Application and Document Attestation

Expatriates who want to pursue higher education, job opportunities, or set-up a business in the UAE are required to apply for a visa.

Those looking to enroll in college programs and universities will need to apply for student visas; international workers must apply for employment visas through their companies. Entrepreneurs need to apply for business visas.

All of the above are examples of residential visas that allow expatriates to stay in the UAE for a year or more. To obtain residential visas in the UAE, applicants are required to submit attested documents.

Attesting Documents For UAE Visas

Sunrise shot of Burj Khalifa.

The UAE’s strict attestation process was put in place to prevent fraud and to assure local companies that the expatriates they’re sponsoring for jobs have the necessary qualifications and educational background to fill the vacancies they’re offering.

Attestation for educational certificates is required as proof of previous schooling. Young students who are hoping to join UAE schools must submit educational certificates and a transfer certificate—all documents need to be attested to prove that they’re genuine.

Entrepreneurs who are looking to take advantage of the UAE’s growing business opportunities will have to submit attested commercial documents, some of which may need to be translated into Arabic.

The Attestation Process

The attestation process varies from country to country; in some countries, it takes longer to attest documents than others, because more steps are involved. In the UAE’s multi-step attestation process, documents are submitted to various bodies, which verify their authenticity and validity.

Once international bodies have attested the documents and given the greenlight for overseas use, they must be submitted to the UAE embassy, which verifies it one last time before MOFA attestation.


Step 1 – Attestation by Local Authoritative Bodies

The attestation process begins in the country that issued the certificate. All certificates are to be attested by local state bodies that verify the details on the documents to make sure they’re genuine.

Although applicants are required to submit the original certificates along with several copies, all state bodies will only provide a signature and deal on the copies. The original certificate will remain as is.

Step 2 – Attestation by Ministry of External Affairs

After state bodies guarantee that all certificates are legitimate, they must be submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs in the issuing country. The MEA takes one last look at the documents before attesting them. Attestation by the MEA means that the document can be used overseas.

Step 3 – Attestation by the UAE Embassy

After the Ministry of External Affairs confirms that the certificate is genuine and can be used by other countries, the certificate must be submitted to the UAE embassy attestation services.

The UAE embassy verifies the certificates through local bodies, and a presiding officer provides a sign and seal on the document.

Step 4 – MOFA Attestation

The final step for UAE document attestation is to submit it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after which it can be used to apply for a residential visa.

If you’re living abroad and want to attest documents for a UAE visa, get in touch with Benchmark Attestation. We can get your papers attested through the UAE embassy and then MOFA, before sending them back to you.