1st week in Dubai: What’s your cost moving to Dubai?

Ok so we made the decision to move our startup (fishfishme) to Dubai. First things need to get done is logistics. If you know me well then you’ll know that I don’t care much of how good my apartment, car or office looks like. I just want a place to sleep and a place to work (I spent 1 year in Hong Kong sleeping in the floor after finding that my bed is too short, and spend 4 months in Barcelona sleeping in a sofa!) Yet the apartment and office where two major concerns because they are extremely expensive in Dubai and a huge cash burner.


So let’s start with the office, if you are a tech startup then you’ll have 4 options in my opinion:

1- Apply for an incubator like InFive or Seedstartup….(thats what I did, and was lucky to get accepted in In5, now I only need to pay 1000AED (270USD or 80KWD) for my office and 1,500AED (410USD) to register my company) – Note: More about In5 in my next post

In5 incubator

2- Work in coffee shop co-working spaces (Make Business Hub or The Pavilion )

3- Rent a small office (not recommended because it’s still expensive)
4- Work from home (never do this, you’ll feel depressed very soon, unless you have a swimming pool or something)

You really don’t need an office, unless you have 20 employees or something. I actually just met a Dutch guy that works in a startup that is based in the Netherlands that just raised X$ million, and opened their office in Dubai, yet they don’t really have an office, he was working in Make Business Hub during the last 6 weeks. So never rent an office in the early days (will talk about registering your company in a later post).


Next, is your apartment. Well after knowing where you want to be close too (your office, your customers or the beach) then you need to decide on where you are going to stay. Of course you need to decide on your price range and type of apartment. Lets take my case, I was searching for a studio apartment with a cost range between 3,500- 5,000 AED (950 – 1,250 USD) for a two months lease. I wanted to rent it for a short period because of two reasons:
1- Jose and the rest of our Spanish team might join me later to Dubai so we’ll need a bigger apartment.
2- I’ll probably find better deal or a better place when I spend more time in Dubai and get tot know the area.

Ok, then you need to find the apartment, the good thing is you don’t really need to visit many websites or property agencies, you just need to go to Dubizzle.com, there you’ll find all listed apartments in Dubai. I ended up in an fully furnished apartment located in a huge residential complex called Discovery Gardens  paying 5,000AED (1,360 USD) for a two months lease. The apartment is very close to my office in Knowledge Village (12min), but a bit far from DownTown (20-25min to Burj Khalifa).




Car, yes car was very important to me because I’m doing a lot of traveling, meeting new boat owners in different cities. So I ended up renting a Toyota Yaris from Hertz for 60AED per day (almost 16USD) adding the  insurance to this, I’m paying around 550USD per month.


To sum up, its costing me 2,180 USD (270 + 1,360 + 550 = 2,180 USD) (around 600 KD) just the cost of apartment, office and car. Adding to that my other expenses (phone bill, food, fuel…etc) thats another 700USD so all in all its costing me around $3,000USD/month to move down to Dubai!! Ok some of you are better than me and will find better ways to save money (staying with a friend, using public transportation and working in a coffee shops),  I’m just sharing with you my own story and maybe you can help me take our expenses even lower 🙂

Leave a comment


  1. Congrats! This is a huge milestone for fishfishme, inshallah it’s all up from here 🙂

    One question, why didn’t you just drive your car from kuwait and save yourself the car rental and insurance?

    • Well because I don’t own a car in Kuwait, I sold mine when I moved to Hong Kong and never had my own since then. But, I’m considering transferring one of the cars at home under my name and do that, that’s for sure.

  2. Pazio

     /  May 14, 2013

    Fantastic article!!! Being a global startup, could be a good idea though to post in a global currency, i.e. US$ to make it easier for the non-UAE & non-Q8s to get the costs. An infographic would be nice too 😀

    Wish you every success..

  3. mijbel

     /  May 14, 2013

    Nice one. Can’t wait to Part 2 🙂

  4. Great Job Abdullah,

    Your artical influenced me personally to pursue my business outside the boundaries. Thanks again for your great details that gave me that extra push! Keep us updated.

    Best Regards,

    Dishdasha Express Co-Founder

  5. Mohamad Al Shafei

     /  July 7, 2013

    Really great and VERY useful article. Many Thanks and Good Luck 🙂

    One small idea to cut expenses is to rent an unfurnished apartment and buy yourself only the needed items, you can buy them used (you don’t really care for such things as you mentioned). I believe such apartment would be half the price.

    • Thanks for the advice Mohamad. Honestly, after moving to Hong Kong 3 years ago and going through the process of buying the furniture and stuff, I decided not to go through the same process again unless I’ll stay in the place for more than 2yrs. For now, I don’t really know how long I’ll be in Dubai, when things get clearer I might do it.

      BTW I just moved to a new apartment, same rent, but much better and much bigger 🙂

  6. This is great ! thanks a lot for sharing
    InshaAllah all the best

  7. Olivier B.

     /  May 17, 2014

    Thanks a lot Abdullah. Very useful articles. My wife and I are now developing our respective websites from Jordan and are now really considering moving to Dubai. I hope we can meet one day. All the best in your endeavour

  1. Week 2 in Dubai: My New Home is Called In5 |

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