Middle East guide for UK citizens
A decade ago, no one would have imagined that British Citizens could move to the Middle East. Surprisingly, the trend has since changed and the Middle East has become a rising hotspot for British Citizens where you can travel to work, study or visit on a family vacation. The adventurous life, especially in the United Arab Emirates, has been the talk of the town.
What countries are in the Middle East?
The Middle East is the region between Europe and Asia which covers the westernmost part of Asia and Easternmost part of Europe. The Middle East is also referred to as a transcontinental region and the countries within this region vary in different sizes, cultures, languages, and climates.
These countries include:
- Saudi Arabia
- The United Arab Emirates
The number of Irish people living in the UAE has increased from 4,000 to 11,000 in the past five years alone.
Country-wise Guide for UK Citizens
It is also called the Kingdom of Bahrain. Approximately 1.7 million people are living in Bahrain.
Introduction to the Embassy
The British Embassy’ Manama’ provides limited notarial and documentary services in Bahrain. The individual must make an appointment for each service.
Before booking your appointment, it is your responsibility to ensure the correct service is being selected and the document is accepted by the relevant authority which can be the registry office, tax authorities, immigration office, or another authority in Bahrain, the UK.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE consists of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm al Quwain and Ajman.
The British Embassy in the UAE does not have jurisdiction or authority in private or legal matters overseas, nor do they intervene in the processes of another country.
If necessary, you can instruct a lawyer instead. However, please be aware that only a local lawyer can represent you in the UAE. An overseas lawyer can advise on your matter but will have no legal jurisdiction to conduct and represent your matter in the UAE.
If you are not satisfied with the way your case is conducted or your lawyer has not acted in accordance to your agreement, you are entitled to lodge a conplaint with the Dubai Legal Affairs Department in Dubai or the Judicial Department in Abu Dhabi.
Living in the UAE
Buying or renting a property that is being resold in the emirates is similar to the process in the UK. You find a property and initiate a formal offer, typically through the agent.
Before completing the purchase, you must contact the relevant authorities in the respective emirate to finalise your research about the developer and the project as problems often arise when the buyers or tenants fail to seek appropriate legal advice.
When seeking legal advice, make sure you speak to a local lawyer in the respective emirate. If you have a problem with the other six emirates, you will need to contact the local Municipality.
Saudi Arabia provides a range of notary services and documentation for UK nationals.
You must make an appointment for each service to the relevant authority before initiating it.
The Saudi Arabian authorities provide 2 services:
- administering an oath, affirmation or affidavit
- arrange embassy marriages
For all appointments for notarial services and documentation, you will need to prove your identity. Authorised passports and iqamas are accepted as proofs of identity.
Qatar is a country known for its ultra-modern, futuristic skyscrapers and some state of the art Islamic architectural buildings and mosques. The country is on the Persian Gulf shoreline of beaches and dunes.
Health & Education
Emergency treatments in government hospitals are free. Any follow up treatment would be charged. If you a private hospital, make sure you have full medical insurance or sufficient funds to pay for it.
Independent schools in Qatar are state-funded with the autonomy to recruit teachers and staff and establish their teaching methods.
Private schools are either commercially established or run as non-profit communities sponsored by their embassies. The tuition fees may vary significantly from school to school. Private Schools are free to set their curriculum in Qatar.
Work residence permit in Qatar
A residence permit is required for UK workers who want to live and work in Qatar. The permit is granted to UK nationals who have an employment contract in Qatar.
It is usually the responsibility of the sponsor to handle and complete all paperwork involved in obtaining the residence permit for the UK citizen. The freedom to change your employer and when you can do this will depend on the type of contract you are on, fixed-term or indefinite, with your current employer in Qatar.
In 2019, most UK workers in Qatar hold a valid exit permit when leaving the country. But certain companies can recommend up to 5% of their workforce as still requiring an exit permit. One must check with your sponsors if this applies to them. The sponsor is in charge of arranging the exit permit. This requirement does not cover spouses and children under the sponsorship of family members.
Entry and residence permit
The sponsor in Oman arranges residence permits. To obtain a dependent resident permit visa for your spouse and children to join you in Oman, you are required to provide a certified copy of your marriage certificate and your children’s birth certificate to your employer.
The British Embassy does not issue a certified copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate. You must obtain an affidavit from the Legalisation Office in the United Kingdom. The document is to be submitted directly to the employer to obtain the dependent resident visa.
For all appointments for notarial services and documentation, you will be required to bring valid proof of your identity and address. A passport and lease agreement or a letter from the employer is accepted.
Medical treatments in Lebanon are subject to charges. One must ensure that they have sufficient travel, health insurance and available funds to cover the cost of medical treatment abroad as medical treatments in Lebanon are very expensive.
If you are a British National residing in Lebanon and wish to sponsor a family member to live in Lebanon, you must contact the Security General of the Lebanese Embassy in London.
The embassy in Lebanon can provide the following services:
Consular staff in Lebanon can:
- Witness a signature
- Administer an oath or affirmation
- Documentation in English
- Issue certified copy of a British passport
Work permit and visa
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior has implemented a new system of residences regarding the cancellation of the residence permit printed on the passport for all categories from March 2019. The Kuwaiti ports will allow only the civil ID card holders to enter Kuwait borders; the civil identity card will ascertain the average residence data.
The British embassy can provide notarial and documentary services for British nationals in Jordan. Some services are available by post. One must make an appointment for each service.
The embassy in Jordan can provide the following:
- administer any single declaration for an Islamic Marriage
- Issue certified copy of a British passport
Israel and other Palestinian Territories(OPTs)
Medical care in Israel and the OPTs are not free, and any form of medical treatment could be expensive. One must have full insurance cover for emergency treatment, hospitalisation and medical evacuation to the UK.
Israel is a culturally and religiously diverse society, and people hold strong beliefs and customs. UK visitors need to be aware of this at all times. For example, it may not be prudent to enter or drive in Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem on Saturday. It is also essential to be sensitive when taking pictures of people in Muslim areas.
The British Embassy in Tel-Aviv can provide notarial and documentary services for British nationals. Where local notaries can provide services, the British Embassy will not provide it.
Embassy in Tel-Aviv can provide the following:
- witnessing of signature
- administering an oath, affidavit or affirmation
- Issue certified copies of a British passport
For all appointments for notarial services and documentation, you will be required to bring a valid passport as proof of your identity and address.
Medical care in Iraq is not free. One must ensure to have travel health insurance and enough funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment in Iraq.
Social and cultural ethics must be respected at all times while you are in Iraq.
If you are a British National residing in Iraq and want to sponsor a family member to live in Iraq, you must contact the Iraqi Embassy in London for guidance.
If there is no specific requirement for a notarial service or certificate to be provided by the British mission, local notaries or lawyers can provide these services more efficiently, quickly and cheaply. The embassy in Iraq can only provide certified copies of the British passport.
Language requirement in the Middle East
Major languages include Arabic, Hindi, Persian, Urdu and English.
English is widely spoken by locals and is also the language of business in almost all middle east countries.
CONCLUSION: Whether you are travelling to the Middle East for work, holiday and residence, this all-inclusive guide for UK Citizens aims to give you a fair idea on your travel and various services available through embassy support. You must plan thoroughly before deciding to visit any Middle East country as the cultures can be significantly different to the UK.