London: the ‘Eighth Emirate’

The United Kingdom is perhaps one of the most popular destinations for Emirati expats; especially when considering higher education. Of course, the cultural differences between the Eastern and Western worlds can make Emirati expats feel completely out of their comfort zones in the UK. An estimated 5,400 Emirati expats were living in the United Kingdom back in 2001, but the number has increased significantly since, with London having the most concentration of expats from the Arab country. And in the past 25 years, approximately 250 of these expats have become UK citizens.

Because the number of Emirati expats isn’t so huge in comparison to other communities - such as the Latin ones -, the Arab community is quite tight. Emirati expats share their communities with other Arab entities, but tend to concentrate in smaller groups of expats specifically from the United Arab Emirates. The Embassy of the UAE in London is a great starting point to settling into London life. The website englobes all aspects of relations between both nations, giving insight into business, life, and other for the influx of migration into both countries.

There are a number of other societies and communities to help expats find their new life abroad. The Arab British Centre is a charity that promotes Arab culture in the UK by organising cultural and artistic events in relation to the Arab world. The Centre doesn’t only promote the culture but offers a sort of shelter for newly arrived Emiratis, and other Arabs, to London, allowing them to meet other people from their country and form alliances for a greater and more comfortable life in the British capital.

Arabs have been visiting Britain for centuries as traders or businessmen, mostly in the past. The interest for London lays mostly in its multicultural background, the acceptance of different cultures (over 300 languages are spoken in the city) and the ease with which one can be themselves without judgement, wear what they want and act the way their culture mandates. London is dubbed the ‘eighth emirate’ for a reason, and Emiratis love the freedom of play in the streets. Many Emiratis living in London come from rich backgrounds, so being able to drive their Ferraris or Lamborghinis down the street is something they feel comfortable with in what they call their second homes.