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Dubai vs Berlin – Which is the Best Choice for Expats?

Dubai vs Berlin - Where to Relocate? | The Vacation Builder

Dubai or Berlin, Germany or the UAE, Europe or Asia? The questions are plentiful when considering your next big move.

Both Dubai & Berlin offer expats a great standard of life, city living and fantastic career opportunities but both places could not be more different. So let’s dive in and take a look at what each city has to offer, and where is the best choice for expatriates.

In our head to head of Dubai vs Berlin we compared Locations, Weather, Cost of Living, Salaries, Career Opportunities, Things to do, Crime Rates, Education, Population Density and Public Transport. Dubai came out on top, but Berlin still offered expats a fantastic choice.

Take a look below at how each performed in each category, decide which categories are most important for you, then make your choice!

Dubai or Berlin – The Best Location?

Dubai or Berlin - Which is in the Best Location | The Vacation Builder

Dubai is the most popular and populous city belonging to the United Arab Emirates. Although UAE is a part of Asia, it is globally known to most as the Middle East. Nestled along the shoreline of the Persian Gulf, Dubai always enjoys all the advantages paired with a great strategic as well as geographical location. Topography of the city is flat but the neighbourhood is blessed with mountain terrains and wonderful beaches.

Travelling to Dubai from various parts of Africa, Europe and a large portion of Asia is really fast, just a few hours by plane. Dubai International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world and no wonder it is also well connected with frequent flights to/from all major cities across the globe. For expatriates, living in Dubai means visiting their homelands without wasting too much time on the way.

Dubai vs Berlin - Spree River in Berlin | The Vacation Builder
Spree River – Berlin

Berlin, the capital city of Germany, is one of the most preferred expat-friendly cities in Europe. History of this city dates back to 13th Century and some part of that history is a painful reminder of the horrific Holocaust from 20th Century. However, the city has emerged as a celebrated destination for its fascinating modern landmarks and intriguing art scene ever since.

Berlin is positioned in a low-lying marshy woodland in the north-eastern part of Germany. Topography of this city is quite flat as it sits amidst the glacial valley of the Spree River. As soon as you leave Berlin, you will be welcome with vast woodlands and numerous beautiful lakes.

Berlin offers quick and frequent flights to all parts of Europe but you have to invest in long flights if you’re travelling from Africa and South-east Asia.

The locations of Dubai and Berlin both carry their pro’s when it comes to accessibility to the rest of the world and the natural surroundings of the countries they are situated in. Many can be confused at the flat, hot grounds of Dubai and miss out on the endless natural places to explore in the UAE. However, Germany does offer more with regards to natural “green” surroundings.

Verdict: Berlin

Dubai vs Berlin – Weather

When you are moving to a different country, it is wise to get some info about the climate you are going to expect there round the year. So, how does it feel in Dubai or in Berlin during summer and winter?

If we compare the climates of these two cities, it’s evident that Dubai features an extremely dry and hot weather most of the year whereas Berlin is dominated by long, chilly winters and short, pleasant summers.

Dubai has a typical hot desert climate. It has two distinct seasons – summer (April to September) and winter (December to March). Days are extremely bright and hot with an average of 8-10 hours of sunlight per day. During winter, temperature can go as low as 20 °C in January but it can shoot up to 41 °C in August. Precipitation is very little in Dubai with no snowfall at all.

Summers in Berlin are partly cloudy whereas winters are mostly cloudy, long, very cold and windy too. June to early September is the best time of the year when the city is blessed with sunny days and moderate temperatures. Average high temperatures in summer are 23 °C and -1 °C in winter. During the winter months, moderate to heavy snowfall happens in Berlin.

Below are the average high temperatures for both cities compared:


The winner here depends entirely on your preference. The climates of Dubai and Berlin are so vastly different. Dubai is often considered too hot to do anything between the months of May to September, however the city does host a truckload of things to do indoors! Berlin offers a more mild climate, meaning you aren’t going to be stuck indoors because of the heat, although you may end up stuck in because of the rain!

For us, sunshine living offers more – and that’s why we choose Dubai for weather, but it may be down to personal preference.

Verdict: Dubai

Cost of Living

It’s hard to ignore that Dubai promotes an extravagant lifestyle in every sense but the shocking part is, this doesn’t make it an expensive city unlike London, Sydney or New York. You can take a look at our previous articles, Dubai vs Sydney and Dubai vs London, to have a fair comparative analysis.

While considering cost of living in both Dubai and Berlin, we found that it is more or less same. A decent living in these cities comes with a very nominal margin if you compare the monthly expenses with rent. In Dubai, you will need approximately 17,000 AED for a month whereas living costs in Berlin with similar facilities will require 16,500 AED (about 3,780€) per month.

Local Purchasing Power Index of 88.14 in Dubai is slightly higher than Berlin’s 86.48. This implies that living in Berlin will help you to save a little bit extra but that’s not at all a significant amount to turn down the idea of living in Dubai.

Consumer Prices without rent is 10.12% higher in Berlin compared to Dubai but when you include rent, Dubai is 2.94% more expensive. For a more detailed analysis on living costs in Dubai and Berlin, you can take a look at the data furnished at Numbeo.com.

Restaurant prices are on average 12% higher in Dubai than in Berlin, however grocery prices are over 15% lower!

Berlin may look slightly cheaper than Dubai but you must not forget the difference between the Costs of Living in these two cities is too insignificant to help you in saving a fortune.

Verdict: Berlin


Money is certainly a motivating factor to change your base to a different city or even a different country. What salary package is offered to you plays a vital role to take the final call – whether to move or not?

Dubai has always been projected as a place to earn lot and save more because of its income tax rules. Workers in Dubai, including expats, don’t have to pay any income tax. This is surely a strong motivating factor to live in Dubai rather than any other citiy in Europe.

Expats working in Berlin don’t enjoy any income tax exemption. Income tax that one has to pay while working in Berlin usually starts from 14% and it can shoot up to 45% depending on your salary value.

Be it Dubai or Berlin, you should consider the average salary packages offered there for different professions before moving in. We have listed down a bunch of preferred professions in the following table along with the average salary (excluding any tax) offered for each category in these two cities.

ProfessionSalary in DubaiSalary in Berlin
Accountant156,000AED130,000 AED
Civil Engineer212,000AED173,000AED
Electrical Engineer242,000AED190,000AED
Business Development Manager371,000AED303,000AED
Administrative Assistant121,000AED100,000AED
Graphic Designer148,000AED122,000AED
Air Traffic Controller249,000AED200,000AED
HR Manager372,000AED280,000AED
Petroleum Engineer235,000AED184,000AED
Hair Stylist99,840AED89,000AED
Occupational Therapist298,000AED123,000AED
Bar Manager157,200AED126,000AED
Real Estate Agent213,600AED164,000AED
Web Developer214,800AED173,000AED

The average annual salaries for respective fields that you can expect in Dubai and Berlin were gathered from SalaryExplorer.com. Data furnished in the table may fluctuate depending on the educational qualification and work experience of a candidate.

Verdict: Dubai

Career Opportunities

When you look up to Berlin and Dubai to grab a new career opportunity, both the cities have various openings for you. But there is nothing constant as the job scenario keeps changing very frequently because of a hoard of internal and external factors.

We are mentioning here the Unemployment Rates from Dubai and Germany. This is not at all the only factor to decide the degree of career opportunities in both cities but it may give you an overall idea about grabbing a job there.

 Unemployment RateDubaiBerlin
20192.35%7.80 %
New Jobs Created 20196,000*12,000*

It is evident from the list that both countries have suffered in terms of job creation due to COVID-19 pandemic turmoil. Unemployment Rates increased in 2020. We also have included the data from 2019 which is less skewed due to COVID 19.

Verdict: Dubai

Things to Do and See

Moving to a new city or a new country is not an easy step to take. Living in a different location far away from home can easily bring boredom as well as frustration. To keep your cool and divert the mind, exploring the region can really be effective.

Particularly if you are bringing the family to Dubai or Berlin, it is important to know what kind of places you can visit or things you can do apart from doing your job. Both the cities are considered as popular travel destinations. So, having a good time in the weekend or during holidays isn’t a problem in Dubai or Berlin.

Things to do & see in Dubai

Dubai vs Berlin - Where to live - Downtown Dubai | The Vacation Builder
Downtown Dubai – Featuring Dubai Mall & Burj Khalifa

Things to do & see in Berlin

Dubai vs Berlin - Things to do - Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin | The Vacation Builder
Charlottenburg Palace – Berlin

Verdict: Tie

It is not possible to decide the winner. Dubai offers more glitz and luxury things to do and see whereas Berlin represents more of its history and heritage. One thing is for sure, both the cities have their own set of things to keep your interest high!

Crime Rates

Most people shift their base from one country to another in order to ensure better living quality for their family. Moving to a different part of the world comes with lots of worries and speculations. Safety matters the most and that’s why you must not overlook the crime scene of a particular place before landing there.

If we compare the Crime Indexes of both the cities, Dubai is way safer than Berlin. Dubai’s Crime Index is currently 16.35 with an impressive Safety Index of 83.65. These figures are really enough to sigh a breath of relief. For the past 3 years, the rate of increase in criminal offences in the city is very moderate with just 40.44.

Now comes the figures from Berlin. Crime in this city is not at all encouraging. With a Crime Index of 42.02 and Safety Index of 57.98, Berlin surely doesn’t promise a safe and sound living. The city shows similar trends with many other European cities. In the last 3 years, crime has increased in Berlin with a higher rate of 68.96.

Verdict: Dubai


If you are moving to a new city with children, then it is important to ensure a quality education for them. Education is extremely valued both in Dubai and Berlin. These two cities cover a whole spectrum of kindergarten, nursery, primary schools, secondary schools and higher education institutes.

When it’s Dubai, there’s no issue of sending your children to a good school or college. All educational institutes in Dubai are evaluated upon stringent quality standards every year. If they fail to satisfy the national grading authority, they are barred from increasing the tuition fees which is justified. Dubai offers free public schooling to only those of UAE origin. For the rest, you will likely need to send your children to a paid / private school.

In Berlin, primary and secondary education is free in public schools. The recent German free tuition system also includes all foreign students regardless of their country of origin. That’s a great news!

Since 2014, 16 states of Germany abolished tuition fees for undergraduate students in public universities. They will be charged only with a nominal fee to cover administration cost per semester.

Expats in Dubai can’t avail the free public education facility for their children whereas education in Berlin is almost free yet good enough to make a career out of it.

Verdict: Berlin

Population Density

Dubai vs Berlin - Population Density - Alexanderplatz, Berlin | The Vacation Builder
A Busy Alexanderplatz in Berlin

No one really likes to move in to a cramped city. You won’t be surprised to know that many highest grossing GDP cities across the globe are overly burdened with a bursting population size. For example, New York City has to accommodate 38,242 people per square kilometre. That’s insane, right?

Thankfully, Dubai’s population density is nothing like you see in any other major cosmopolitan cities from Europe and America. Population Density of this city is about 860 people per square kilometre which means you can enjoy a private life with enough peace and tranquillity. Lesser population density also implies better social benefits from the government.

Although Germany’s population density hovers around 240 people per square kilometre, Berlin shows a sharp contrast with 4,048 people per square kilometre. This is one of the most populous cities in Europe.

Verdict: Dubai

Dubai wins the race with a much lesser population density compared to thickly populated Berlin.

Public Transport

Last segment of our comparison is the public transport systems. This is an important aspect to consider before relocation as it decides how easy it is to get around. An effective public transportation system helps you to reach your destinations quickly and comfortably. So, better the public transport, better is the standard of living.

Dubai’s public transport system is diversified with options like taxi, bus, metro, monorail and water taxi. Transportation costs are quite reasonable if you choose any of them. Thanks to well-maintained highways, travelling time is really short in Dubai too.

In short, Berlin’s public transportation system is efficient, affordable, straightforward and punctual. Trains, buses and ferry services are frequent. Owning a BVG-Ticket allows you to use the public transport for free.

With both cities hosting fantastic state-of-the-art public transportation, there is only one way to split them; with the cost of a single ticket.

According to Versus.com, the average cost of a single ticket in Berlin is $3.04, which is in the top 34% of countries in the world. Over in Dubai however, and you will find a much cheaper ticket at $1.20, which is in the top 76% of countries in the world.

Verdict: Dubai – Just

Conclusion – Dubai or Berlin?

So, this is how we placed our views on living in Dubai vs Berlin particularly from an expat’s perspective. Dubai is surely a better place to live for expats. Still, it’s up to you to take the final call depending on your goals and priorities.

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