Let’s start with the basics here. The currency used in the UAE is called the Dirham, with the abbreviation being AED, and is broken into subunits referred to as fils. In other words, one Dirham or AED is equal to 100 fils. Dirham notes come in denominations of 1000,500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 5 and approximately $1 U.S. is equal to about 3.67 Dirham. Please refer to www.xe.com for current exchange rates. Teaching jobs in the Abu Dhabi are lucrative and, depending on your level of qualifications and experience, you can make anywhere between12,300 to 19, 000 AED per month, which converts to roughly $3500 to $5400 USD per month.
Please bear in mind that while you will be working and earning a paycheck while teaching abroad, you cannot arrive in Abu Dhabi without any funds. In most cases, you will not see your first paycheck for at least a month after arrival, so you will need funds to feed yourself and cover the cost of basic set-up expenses such as purchasing a cell phone and utilities. We recommend that you arrive in Abu Dhabi with access at least $2000USD in savings. It is also advisable, that you convert a few hundred dollars ahead of time or carry an internationally recognized credit card.
Upon arrival in Abu Dhabi, you will be provided assistance from your employer in setting up a bank account. The process of setting up a bank account in Abu Dhabi is not all that complicated but is reserved to residents only, with few exceptions, which won’t pose an issue for you as you’ll be teaching there! There are a number of banks in Abu Dhabi, including the United Arab Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi has many international financial institutions as well. Both HSBC and Citibank have branches in the UAE and are a good option if you’re looking to transfer funds and if you bank with them back home. Again, your employer will walk you through the actual process of opening a bank account, but for your own reference, you will need to bring with you a valid passport with residency (original and copy) as well as a letter of no-objection, or equivalent, from your employer or sponsor.
If you’re interested in sending a portion of your paycheck home, here are a few tips to keep in mind. Send money in bulk to save on transaction fees if this is something your bank in the UAE or back home charge. Most financial institutions and transfer agents include a small fee of 10Dh to 25Dh to send money abroad, so remitting larger amounts of money versus sending smaller amounts more frequently, is recommended. The fee charged by exchange houses is most often per transaction and not determined by the overall sum you’re transferring. There are certain days of the week when exchange rates are at their worst (we all have our bad days, right?), so schedule a transfer of funds based on favorable exchange rates. Also, avoid any sort of last minute, or down to the wire, remittance and ensure you do a comparison shop. In matters of money, it is always best to plan ahead and keep some extra time on hand to compare the pros and cons of different exchange houses. Make sure to find out if there are extra charges or “hidden” fees, on top of the transaction fee, that will be added on later. Most malls or localities contain three to four exchange houses so you’ll have many to choose from.