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In the final installment of our Leaving Abu Dhabi series, we asked Cat O'Sullivan what difficulties did they face upon their return? For example, motor insurance, bank account opening etc.
"Once we started looking in to coming home it became clear that we would have a challenge getting motor insurance. In hindsight the big mistake was not staying as a named driver on one of our family members policy during the years we were away. While in the UAE were insured by RSA for the entire period bar one year where we bought a new car and got complimentary insurance. Before we left we visited the office of each insured and got confirmation of the no claims status and also a contact person that our insurance company could speak to so that they could confirm this (we had already been in touch with Glennons before we left so knew they needed verbal confirmation).
A lot of insurance companies didn't want to deal with us as we didn't have any recent Irish/UK insurance history and RSA even refused to speak to us directly (in fact they were a bit rude about it) as they only deal through an intermediary. In the end we got a competitive quote from Glennons as they accept international no claims but do look for verbal confirmation of this from the company itself.
While we were away we had returned regularly and had kept our bank accounts active so there were no issues there. Getting a public services card is important and was easily done. Also registering for child benefit was straight forward and was then backpaid from when we arrived in Ireland. Registration for under 6 GP care was also straight forward once we found a GP participating in the scheme who had availability.
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In the fourth installment of our Leaving Abu Dhabi series, we asked Cat O'Sullivan what document should people bring home before they leave the UAE. She told us that before she left Abu Dhabi last year she applied for "a police clearance certificate is usually very easily obtained online in Abu Dhabi. However, depending on who it is being made out to (i.e. general rather than a specific employer) you might need to call in to the police directorate in person to complete the process as you can get an error in the online process. Completing the process in person is easy but finding the right office can be difficult so best to check with your PRO where to go if you do need to complete it in person. Also getting a copy of any health or vaccination records might be useful before you leave particularly if you only have files in one or two hospitals or a complex medial history."
We asked Cat to share any other details that will help to make the move easier. She says "Once the decision is made to move home start planning and do as much as you can as quickly as you can taking every opportunity to either sell stuff you don't need or bring stuff home. We only moved to the UAE for a year or two originally and even though we ended up staying 9 years we knew the time would come when we would be leaving. If you know that you are going to be leaving in the near future and have the luxury of space to store stuff back in Ireland then it is worth bringing home bits and pieces you don't need when you return for holidays. If you can max out your luggage allowance with things that you don't actively need like photo albums or books. Before you actually move there will most likely be a few short trips home to arrange and set things up, these are good opportunities to bring home bits and pieces that you don't want to risk to cargo. Once you make the decision to move home for definite you need to move quickly to secure a place in a nearby schools/crèches for your kids as spaces in these can be in short supply and fill quickly. The other thing to consider is where you are going to live and how much this will cost. Having a job or at least started the process of looking for one will also make things easier. We were lucky in that one of us had secured a job before we moved home and the interview for this was done over the phone."
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In the third installment of our Leaving Abu Dhabi series, we asked Cat O'Sullivan how she sold her furniture and belongings before she left Abu Dhabi last year.
"Mostly facebook groups but also notice boards and emails in work places. These facebook groups can have a lot of posts and sometimes whether or not something sells is just luck. Its also worth having realistic prices (or asking for offers) and also being prepared to deliver if possible. For stuff that we couldn't sell we either offered it for free on facebook or used takemyjunk.com (they will come and take everything you don't want).
It's also worth starting to try and sell your car as soon as you decide to leave and rent one for the remainder of the period you have left. Cars can take time to sell especially as the market will be flooded in early June. Dubizzle is good but car ads are not free and you will get a lot of silly offers and a lot of timewasters, not sure if facebook is much better in this regard. Sellanycar.com is good in that they take your car there and then but there are some cars they don't consider and on the whole will not give you a great price usually, best thing to do with them is hold tough as they start out low and wait till you get a price you are happy with (they try to wear you down by drawing things out and can take up to 30 minutes to make their best offer). Also if you have a loan on your car it needs to be cleared before you can sell it. The bank should inform the RTA directly when the loan is cleared so when you go to transfer ownership there should be a note in your file."
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We asked a recent ex-expat, Cat O'Sullivan who left Abu Dhabi last year to share her experiences in a five part blog series. In our first blog, we asked her how to cancel utilities like ADDC & Etislaat and to cancel UAE bank accounts correctly followed by the steps she took in choosing a company to ship her belongings home.
"We didn't ship any furniture home as we didn't think the furniture was worth what the shipping would cost. We looked into shipping with a few different companies but most were quite expensive and would take ages to arrive in Ireland. In the end we went with Etihad air cargo as they were the cheapest and quickest. You end up doing a lot of the admin yourself compared to the other options but you save a lot of time and money. The cargo terminal is near terminal 2 at the international airport and can be very busy at random times of the day and night so be prepared for a long wait. Pack the boxes as well as you can and close them tightly with plenty of tape. Its no harm to number them and mark them as fragile as I don't think they are too gentle with the boxes when in transit, best not to put anything too fragile unless it is well padded. We had visited the cargo terminal a week before sending things to confirm the cost, documentation and procedure. Only standard ID documents are required as well as an address both in the UAE and in Ireland. The cost is broken down by a fixed charge to cover customs admin etc and a rate per kg for the shipping. On the night we went to ship the boxes the fixed charge was more than they told us originally but there was a sale on shipping so the rate per kg was less, in total it cost less than expected.
With this option you pack our own boxes (we got these at ACE hardware) and hire a guy with a truck to take them to the airport. We had 27 boxes of varying sizes which came to a total of 555kg. We sent them via air cargo directly to Cork. The bill at Abu Dhabi airport was 2650dhs (~€630) and the bill from Allied Forwarding at Cork was €180. Very competitive when we were quoted €750 to ship a fraction of this weight by some of the better known companies. The whole process took around 10 days to Cork but waiting/clearance times in Dublin are significantly longer. As far as we know they can ship to most major ports/airports so its worth checking if they ship to your nearest one as it might save you time and also be cheaper.
Upon arrival you will need to collect the boxes from the forwarding company yourself or alternatively they can arrange delivery at an additional cost. Ensure you have as detailed an inventory as possible for each box to avoid customs having to open them. This will be filled into the form for the company you choose to handle the cargo at the Irish airport. if your forwarding company completes a change of residence form you shouldn't get changed customs fees on your belongings but it may be worth checking with the forwarding company beforehand just in case there is anything that will attract a customs charge regardless of your status. For a change in residence you will need to supply as much information as you can, we gave them the following info (possibly a bit of overkill but better to give them as much as possible to show period of residence in the UAE and intention to return home.
These include;
Copy of the AWB for shipmentCopy of most recent lease agreement in Abu DhabiConfirmation of intention to vacate premises from current landlordUtility (Electricity & Water) account closing letterUtility bills from April 2012, September 2010 and May 2017Utility deposit confirmation from August 2010Copies of passports and residency visasMarriage certificateLetter from employer confirming positionLetter from solicitor confirming place of residence in IrelandPPS numbers for both of us"
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We asked a recent ex-expat, Cat O'Sullivan who left Abu Dhabi last year to share her experiences in a five part blog series. To begin we asked her how she cancelled utilities like ADDC & Etislaat and UAE bank accounts correctly.
"Cancelling the utilities is relatively straight forward but can be a bit time consuming so allow a good 10-12 days minimum for everything or longer if possible. Its best to try and cancel what you can do without a good bit in advance (i.e. gas and Etisalat) and ring/speak to a representative if possible and take a name just in case you are given incorrect information.
Etisalat
Etisalat was the more difficult and time consuming. We had changed our home phone/internet package and also one of our mobile packages in the preceding 12 months. The reason we changed is we were offered a better value package with higher allowances. Even though we specifically asked at the time of the upgrade whether or not there was a minimum period to the new subscription, and were told there wasn't, when we went to cancel we were told that there was a penalty for not seeing out the contract. Luckily we suspected that something like this would happen so we went in 2-3 weeks before departure to confirm what the situation would be if we wanted to cancel (we had no intention of cancelling that say but did this as a dry run). After explaining the situation to them and what we were told they suggested raising a "complaint" this being their way of dealing with things internally to resolve such issues. Once the complaint was resolved we were able to cancel our home package and just had to pay any outstanding balance and then a clearance letter was issued.
We were lucky in that we had specifically asked about the minimum subscription period and were given wrong information so had grounds to raise a complaint but if you didn't ask or are leaving sooner than expected then you may just have to pay the penalty, particularly since a clearance letter from Etisalat is one of the documents that a landlord looks for when you move out.
What complicated matters was the mobile package which they told us didn't have a minimum subscription period when we went in initially to check. When we went in to actually cancel they told us the first advisor was mistaken and that there was a minimum subscription period and that a early finish penalty was now due. The dispute process can take a few days to complete and at the time we were told this there wasn't much time left. In the end even though the complaint was accepted we still needed to pay a penalty and then raise another complaint to get a refund of that. The penalty was paid on the last day and the refund was processed while we were back home and lodged to our Irish account (after a lot of chasing up on our part).
It is also worth noting that the minute you cancel you bill pay sim it will no longer work and if you are leaving and no longer have a visa you can't switch back to pay as you go so the number is no longer any use. Not a big deal but you might leave the phone to the very last day as otherwise people wont be able to contact you. Alternatively if you have sufficient time and a valid visa it might be worth switching to a pay as you go a month or two before the move. We are not aware if you need to cancel your pay as you go sim but once you are out of the country for a certain period it deactivates anyway.
A company supplied gas to our apartment building and once we gave them official notification (via email) that we were moving out they sent someone to take a final reading and disconnect the supply. It took them a week to send someone and 2-3 days to work out the final bill. They offset the deposit against what was owed and we only needed to pay the remaining balance via their website. Getting the official clearance letter took another 3-4 days but our landlord wasn't looking for this so it didn't delay things. All these timescales are with frequent follow ups to check on progress.
ADDC
ADDC follows a similar procedure where you ring up and inform them you are moving out. They send someone to take a final reading, disconnect everything and calculate a final bill. They were able to off set our deposit against the remaining bill so all we had to pay was the balance and a clearance letter was issued electronically within a day. We did get a bit lucky as we gave some stuff away for free and the person who came to collect it worked for ADDC. As a mark of gratitude he made sure that our final reading was taken quickly after we phoned it in so we don't know how long it usually takes but for us the meter was read the same day we phoned it in. Best to leave a day or two for them to come and take the reading just in case.
Bank Accounts
The bank account is the very last thing you want to cancel and only after you have paid all the utilities otherwise it can make the whole process difficult. You are not allowed to have a UAE account if you are not resident so it has to be closed before you leave, also ADCB won't let you have offshore accounts with them if you are not resident either. When you get your final gratuity from your employer the bank are notified that it is a final gratuity and a hold will be placed for this amount on your account by the bank until such time as you have discharged any debt obligations you have with them (e.g. credit card, loans). It can take a few days for charges to appear on your credit card so it is best to stop using it a week or two our from when you are planning to leave. Provided there is no charges on your credit card it can be closed once you pay the outstanding balance. Once you pay off any loans the hold on your account is released and you can transfer out your funds until your account is almost empty. Once you have emptied your accounts you can visit your branch to sign whatever documents are required and close your account there and then. Provided you have no outstanding debts to the bank closing the account is pretty quick and happens on the same day. Note: this is the procedure for ADCB and it may be different with other banks."
The next part in our Leaving Abu Dhabi blog series is choosing what company to ship your belongings home?
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For virtually all Irish expats, the mere thought of planning on moving back home to Ireland can be daunting or even overwhelming, with one of the foremost priorities being to find somewhere to live. Paul Friel spent three great years in Abu Dhabi, enjoying all the usual expat attractions in the UAE. He informed us that "it was no different for my fiancée and I, as we were on the lookout for a house to rent/buy when we moved back to Ireland.
Before returning to Ireland, we were able to arrange a mortgage from the UAE and successfully purchase our first home using Bank of Ireland’s new ‘Coming to Ireland’ initiative. Within six weeks of our return, and with the help of Bank of Ireland, we had successfully bought and moved into our first home."
Generally speaking, Irish banks insist on home buyers living and earning in Ireland for six months before submitting a mortgage application. However, Bank of Ireland’s new ‘Coming to Ireland’ team can arrange mortgages for returning expats before or after they arrive back in Ireland, thus avoiding a six-month wait before drawing down a mortgage: https://personalbanking.bankofireland.com/bank/coming-to-ireland/renting-or-buying/
Here are a few useful points to keep in mind if you are returning to Ireland and hoping to purchase/build a home and wish to apply for a mortgage before leaving the UAE:
• Banks offer up to 3½ – 4 times your annual salary (in Ireland). • Banks mainly lend to those with a permanent job (or sole traders/business owners who can provide three years’ worth of business accounts or business account projections). • A 10% deposit of the purchase price will be required for First Time Buyers (FTB) and a 20% deposit for other Borrowers. • The FTB Incentive: 5% of the value of the property, up to a maximum of EUR 20,000, is paid back to you (Note: This is a tax refund on the taxes you have paid in Ireland over the last four years). • The Bank of Ireland Mortgage Savers Account offers EUR 2,000 to FTBs once they draw down a mortgage (See Terms and Conditions: https://personalbanking.bankofireland.com/save-and-invest/savings/mortgagesaver/).
• Cash Back Offers on your Mortgage: Banks offer incentives for drawing down mortgages. For example: 3% Cash Back, EUR 1,500 towards your legal fees or 50% off House Insurance. • Cost of Borrowing: You can choose Variable or Fixed Term Interest Rates (I believe a three-year fixed interest rate is good value at present); check comparison websites such as www.Bonkers.ie for an idea).
Documents to gather up before you submit a mortgage application:
• Six months’ worth of Bank Statements from your UAE Bank A/C and Irish Bank A/C;
• A Salary Cert from your UAE employment;
• Utility bill from the UAE confirming your address (less than six months old);
• Proof of saving to show deposit (Bank Statement of Current/Savings A/C or Statement of Saving Plan);
• Salary Cert for Irish employment.
Once your mortgage is approved, you will need to think of the following:
• Look for a good solicitor to act on your behalf during the mortgage process. Shop around and compare solicitor fees; seek recommendations from family and friends for solicitors they may have used in the past.
• House Insurance will be required before drawing down a mortgage (Again, shop around and negotiate).
• *Mortgage Protection (Do not feel obliged to take out the bank’s Life Insurance. Speak to a Financial Planner or shop around for Life Insurance companies to get Mortgage Protection that is best suited to you and your circumstances).
Paul is a Financial Consultant/Planner with Con Friel & Co. (operating nationwide in Ireland for over thirty years). I often advise on how to deal with Banks when applying for a mortgage and arrange Mortgage Protection for mortgage borrowers. You can contact me at paulfriel86@gmail.com if you have any queries or seek advice on the mortgage process or returning to Ireland from the UAE in general.
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With a limited number of places remaining for our re-scheduled annual How to in Abu Dhabi evening in McGettigan's AUH. Our new date is Monday, September 4th at 8pm. If you haven't registered already do so HERE.
We would like to give you an insight into what to expect, whom you can meet and give you the lowdown on your new home. We will be covering such topics as;
How to get your residency visa,How to get a UAE sim card & your phone set up How to get an Emirates IDHow to rent a carHow to get a liquor licence How to send money homeHow to get teaching suppliesHow to behave & respect the local cultureHow to be behave on social mediaHow to make make the most of your gratuityHow to join sporting clubs and community organisationss
And so much more.....
Along with receiving a complimentary drink (cocktails for the ladies no less) upon arrival & entry into our spot prize draws, we have many of Abu Dhabi's most trusted and experienced representatives will be on hand to help answer any questions you may have or assist you such as;
And there will be a number of sporting clubs & community organisations too.
We are really looking forward to meeting Abu Dhabi's newest expats. It promises to be a fantastic evening. If you haven't registered already do so HERE.
See you Sunday from 7pm
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Did you know that Abu Dhabi is home to the 8th Fittest Woman on Earth? Vogue Fitness Jamie Greene is a humble and an inspiring athlete. She shared her insights on fitness and what makes her a world class Crossfit athlete.
1) In your opinion what is it about CrossFit that makes it so popular? The community, everybody is there for the same reason:, to get fit, healthy, meet new people and have fun, it's a very welcoming vibe where ever you are. Making it a much easier exercise regimen to stick too and that's all you need for good results- consistency, and good results always end in continued commitment.
2) Do you have any other favourite workouts/ routines? What are the benefits in comparison? I like swimming, running, climbing, biking etc but this can all also be considered as 'Crossfit' as they all fall under the category of 'functional fitness'
3) What benefits did you witness when you concentrated on CrossFit? I found I became a lot more motivated in day to day life out of the gym, I also increased strength, loosing body fat and becoming a more rounded athlete. My endurance, mobility, agility, and coordination all increased. I also meet a lot of new people, many becoming more like family to me.
4) Can anyone participate? Do you already need to be pretty fit? Anybody! And anyone! Doesn't matter your fitness level Or capabilities as every workout or movement is scalable (possible to change) to suit your needs or fitness level, the idea is that everybody is feeling a similar way from the workout that is set out in front of you. Also you are coached through everything in your standard Crossfit class.
5) How many times a week should you do it and how long are the sessions? Dependent on your goals, anywhere between 3-6 times a week is suitable and for your regular Crossfitter no more than an hour a day is needed.
6) Would you recommend this exercise for someone looking to just getting in shape, or looking to become more muscular? Of course! And they will see many other benefits along the way, such as increased stamina, agility, balance, proprioception, coordination and strength.
7) What are the benefits of a single-gender gym? Sometimes it helps for some to feel more comfortable and in the UAE it is suitable ladies as they then don't have to worry about fully covering up while working out.
8) As a fitness professional, what resolutions do you most recommend people take on to lose weight? It's all about small changes at a time, no one sticks to anything if it is a drastic change that reflects who they are. I recommend to start with one goal e.g. Eat 5 vegetables a day, stick to this for a week or so then add another goal in e.g. Cut out processed foods and so on making small changes will add up in the long run without having to sacrifice your whole life to become healthier.
9) Can you gives us three diet and three fitness tips you follow every day? Diet: 1. Eat food that will go off within a few days. 2. Drink at least 3L of water a day 3. Eat enough! Your body will thank you for it, if you spread your food evenly throughout the day you will find your energy levels becoming much more level rather than ups and downs around big meals or no meals. Fitness 1. Find something you enjoy? If you hate it you will never stick to it! 2. Workout with friends the motivation helps and it's harder to say no when you are letting someone else down also. 3. Work with intensity, a 10min hard workout is better than 60mins of mucking around in the gym. Saving you time and seeing better results.
10) Your personal fitness journeys have been eventful with all the competitions, what has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? My biggest challenge was the year I snapped my Achilles doing box jumps, so basically I was in recovery mode for 9-12 months. Mentally this was very hard for me. As I love to train and i worked at a gym aswel, so I couldn't even work to keep myself occupied. But it taught me to work on the things I was bad at Crossfit and to be patient and do what I could. I learnt to slow down a little and now in the long run I can see it was of benefit for not only my Crossfit but also the way I approach life... to be a bit more appreciative.
If you'd like to get fitter in an excellent fitness facility with great coaches like Jamie, t
he Vogue Fitness Survivor Program starts next month. To register for Survivor 17.3 visit www.vfuae.com/survivor SURVIVOR INCLUDES: -CASH BACK for each session you attend -Pre & post program biometric testing -Pre & post program fitness testing -Survivor nutrition plan designed by Pura -A Survivor Pack to help you through the month -1 month of gruelling fitness sessions with Abu Dhabi's best fitness coaches
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We are all out here for the tax free salaries right? In the UAE & Middle East it is amazing not to have to pay income tax and have your payslip decimated with various deductions. Let us help you try to avoid the common pitfalls for all new expats arriving in the UAE soon.
1. Comparing Prices to Home
The UAE provides us with a unique opportunity to save and live well. However, if you begin to compare prices with home you will get a shock. Remember, It is all relative. You are being paid very well however you will pay high prices too for food, night's out, cars, travel etc. Our advice is try to save and try not to compare home prices with UAE prices.
2. Cost of Setting Up
It is expensive moving to a new country and the UAE is no different. You will have to factor in deposits for water & electricity, mobile sim car, car rental, accommodation, visa costs depending on your sponsor/school/employer, when you arrive and when your first pay cheque will be issued. Usually, the majority of these costs are covered by your sponsor/school/employer however we suggest to change 1-2k Euros just in case.
3. Saving Habit
We won't lie it is hard to save that tax free salary. There is just so much to do every single weekend but try to get into a savings habit as soon as possible - some people just spend spend spend and end up leaving with nothing.
4. Credit, Loans & Cheques
The UAE laws are very strict on credit. You will need a UAE residency, your Emirates ID and 3-6 months salary statements before most banks will allow you to apply for car or personal loans. In addition, loans are dependent on your monthly salary, your contract duration & your employer's credit rating. Defaulting on loans and "bouncing cheques" are serious criminal offences.
5. Credit cards - Loyalty Programs
Banks offer generous credit card offers however the UAE has a high monthly repayment rate in comparison to home. Most expats use a bank credit card affiliated with the Etihad Miles Loyalty Program (Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank & Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank) or in Dubai, Emirates Airlines Loyalty Program. Every transaction enables you to clock up Etihad Guest miles which can be used towards redeeming a flight.
5. Islamic Banks V's Conventional Banks
Although Islamic commercial banks have many products similar to those offered by conventional banks, the two entities differ conceptually. One key difference is that conventional banks earn their money by charging interest and fees for services, whereas Islamic banks earn their money by profit and loss sharing, trading, leasing, charging fees for services rendered, and using other sharia contracts of exchange.
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With new teachers arriving this September we’ve compiled a few sayings they’ll probably hear in an UAE classroom……..
1 - "I want red teacher" Pack your red pen.....red biro corrections are a must!
Green biro is the preserve of the amateur or, conversely, the teacher with so much experience/nonchalance that they can get away with it.
2 - "Me....no absent teacher!"
You will be guaranteed to hear the most original excuses for tardiness from students and parents.
3 - "Are you married teacher?"
Of course you are! You're happily married with two kids and one on the way.
4 - "Why has my son not got an A?"
An A is the lowest and highest grade you can give oddly enough
5 - Student: "Where you from teacher?"
Teacher: "Ireland......Irlanda"
Student: "Ah.....near UK."
Ireland (or Irlanda what you'll end up calling home while here) is a little country 4,000km in western Europe but everyone thinks your a massive drinker and we part of the UK. Eventually you'll just nod and smile because it takes too long.
I'm sure you've heard better in your classroom so why not share it with us.
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