Ever considered moving to Dubai to practice Dentistry? Dr. Mark Georgy practiced in Abu Dhabi for 5 years, and Dr. Fraaz Ahmed moved to Dubai 5 days ago – on today’s episode we are lucky to get BOTH perspectives of life and Dentistry in the United Arab Emirates.
Fancy tax deductible Skiing + CPD next month? Check out Destination CPD by Mark Georgy
From qualifications to registration process and income potential, we covered it all in this episode.
“You have to have your license already sorted out, a lot of people just won’t reply unless you have your license, which you can do remotely, you DON’T have to come in to the country (UAE)”
Highlights of this episode:
- 2:32 Dr. Mark and Dr. Fraaz introduction
- 6:46 Considering Dubai as the place for practice
- 10:34 Dental Health Authority (DHA) License
- 12:19 Taking risks of moving to other countries
- 13:54 Requirements for foreign dentists to work in the UAE
- 17:06 Dental Protection in UAE
- 19:22 Family-run clinic
- 22:05 Contractual issues abroad
- 30:00 Things to consider before moving abroad
- 33:34 Quality of life and schooling in UAE
- 37:26 Income tax and income levels in UAE
- 44:42 Daily life in the UAE
- 48:38 Language Issues
- 49:48 Advice in considering moving to the UAE
Enlighten Smiles sponsored this episode with their great whitening products and also their course flagship composite bonding course called Mini Smile Makeover, which is really heavy duty full sequence from peg laterals to composite veneers by the famous Dipesh Parmar.
If you enjoyed this, you might also like this episode The American Dental Dream with Dr. Kristina Gauchan
Click below for full episode transcript:Jaz's Introduction: Did you know that the very first episode of Protrusive Podcast was about my experiences and Surinder's experiences when we were in Singapore? And that was kind of the reason why I started PROTRUSIVE DENTAL PODCAST.
Well, so many hundreds of episodes later, another opportunity has come to talk about moving to the UAE, from wherever you are in the world, be at US, Australia, UK, New Zealand, wherever you are, and starting a new life, a new career in the United Arab Emirates, think Abu Dhabi, think Dubai kind of thing. And those are where my two guests have got experiences from. And I’m really excited to share this episode, because we’ve got Mark, who was practicing in Abu Dhabi for five years. And we’ve got Fraaz, who literally arrived in Dubai, two days ago from the UK, and is living the entire sort of initiation process right now. And he’s hoping to get started working there next month in January.
So, a lot of takeaway points for anyone who’s even thought about moving to the UAE? What is it take? Are there other exams? What’s the income, like? What’s the tax situation like? All the things that you’d want to know, before you move out to the UAE to practice dentistry, funny enough, one of the the hygienist, Bev who I work with is also there now. I haven’t caught up with in a while. So I’m actually reached out to her. But there’s lots of people I know over the years, who’ve experienced dentistry in the UAE. And it’s a place that I’ve been to a fair bit, my wife actually grew up in UAE, and we’re going there again, on vacation. So it really piqued my interest, you know, my wife is actually expecting number two in summer.
So looking forward to a summer of sleepless nights. And one of the things that we are looking for in the future and a couple of years is a bigger place, because we’re in a cozy to bed, and we’re gonna need a bigger space. So before we decide on that, my wife was like, ‘But you know, Jaz you’re recording that episode with those two guys from Dubai, let’s just hear what they have to say before making a decision.’ So I guess it’s it’s on my wife’s mind. And I know for a fact that many of you listen to this podcast, young dentists around the world, the world is changing. And now we want to experience this lifestyle where wherever village or whichever city we grew up in, we have to reflect on whether that’s the place you want to practice your dentistry, and that’s the place we have to raise your children. And that’s a place that you want to retire. So the world is now your oyster. And you can call anywhere you like your home. So let’s listen to what Mark and Fraaz have to say about moving to the UAE and I’ll catch you in the outro.
Mark and Fraaz, welcome to this very special edition of Protrusive Dental Podcast. Great to have you. Mark I’ve known you since Dawson Academy days has been many years since I first met you. Mark just introduce yourself, if you don’t mind.
Thanks, Jaz. It’s great to be honest and honor. I’m a big fan and since we met in Dawson all those years ago. Yeah, so I’m a dentists, officially based in London. I’m a GDP I’ve got a special interest in endo, and went to Uni and King’s in London and graduated around 2009. And I’ve bounced around a little bit from working in Cornwall to London, then Abu Dhabi in the UAE for five years. [Jaz]
And what about New Zealand? You mentioned New Zealand in our prior to that as well. [Mark]
I did! Yeah. [Jaz]
How do you skip on that? How do you miss that one? How do you forget? [Mark]
A little bit of a nomadic lifestyle? Yeah, so I did six, it was more of a working holiday. So I didn’t count it as a proper place. But I did six months of kind of bouncing around New Zealand working enough just to have some more beer money, you know, to keep going. But yeah, that was fun, too. [Jaz]
Amazing. And now obviously you’re based in Switzerland? [Mark]
That’s right. Yeah. So I’m winding down my sort of practicing time in London to focus on being here. My wife works for the UN and so you know, so we decided to make Geneva, Switzerland our base It’s beautiful out here. So you know I had a camp in both foot for about a year and a half, two years. And I was commuting between London and Geneva which had its challenges but now I decided to really focus on being. [Jaz]
Amazing and Mark for the for those of you who are who don’t know yet, Mark’s the one who’s behind this amazing ski trip in Morzine The Dental CPD destination, CPDs website, so please do check out the links below and also we’ll talk a bit more towards the end but anyone who’s up for a tax deductible ski trip there’s a few places left so come and join us if you can, but now I’ve also got Fraaz.
And Fraaz you talk about yourself man it was just the timing was just beautiful man. I saw your Instagram post and it was like one of those like bye UK, Hello Dubai kind of thing. Literally you at the airport I appreciate you so much for giving your time and you must be jet lagged and stuff to talk about your very recent now move you’re literally must or you probably jet lagged in the Dubai Mall right now.[Fraaz]
No, to be fair, because I don’t have my three children here yet. So my children are about five o’clock which is what Dubai time nine at 9am. Anyway, so I’ve been enjoying the lions. [Jaz]
Very good. I bet you are, Fraaz. Tell us a little bit about yourself or where do you qualify from and do a little background before I started picking up both of you in terms of finding out what is going through your minds. [Fraaz]
So, I’m really your typical humble to GDP, so graduated from Liverpool 2012. When I’m working Southwest Wales for a bit, so back to the values that was good. I completed my masters in 2015, with Manchester University, restorative and aesthetic dentistry. Steven Davis was the guy who really got into TMD. So I love TMD now because of him, then there are lots of small courses during that time afterwards. But that’s not my formal sort of education, been bouncing around from Southwest Wales to then Manchester and Oldham. Went to Wigan for a good period of seven or eight years. And then before I’ve moved here, I finished a spell back home, home from his Cheadle, South Manchester of the year. Now I’m here. And I feel like I’m back right to the beginning. [Jaz]
Yeah, well, you’ve been bouncing from Wales to Manchester, Cheadle. Whereas Mark’s been going from like, UK, New Zealand. Abu Dhabi. So you had different experiences. But let’s start right the beginning guys, right? So dentists listen to this, who maybe is now thinking about it, and I guess I would be lying if I said, I’m not interested. I am definitely interested. I’ll tell you why. I said to so my wife’s pregnant, we’re expecting number two. And I keep sending these links to my wife. Thank you. I keep saying these links. My wife say ‘Okay, check out this house. Check out this house.’ Because we live in a cozy, too bad and we need the space.
I’m thinking, you know, projecting two years forward, like we need the extra bedroom. And my wife has been really hesitant because she said, ‘Oh, Jaz, you told me that you’re recording this podcast episode. Maybe just hear what they have to say.’ So here we are. To any dentist who’s thinking about moving to UAE to be able to practice dentistry where do you begin? So let’s talk mindset. Mark let’s start with you. When you were moving to UAE you told me a little bit already but share it with the producer it you were it wasn’t just UAE you were considering few places you also considering Singapore and stuff. Why did you end up going to the UAE?[Mark]
Right? Okay, so the backstory I guess for prompting the move was, you know, like I said to you earlier Jaz, I was in predominantly NHS practice in East London, which was great. As you know, and probably all of your listeners are familiar with that kind of Treadmill. Dentistry, it gets tiring physically, mentally, you’re kind of so I kind of drew a line in the sand. I was like, this is not going to work for me.
So we took the plunge, my wife and I were decided to take a kind of extended holiday slash sabbatical. We were bouncing around Southeast Asia for a few months. So while we were away I was we were both applied to jobs all over the place. And I was applying to jobs globally. I was applying to jobs in the UAE, to Singapore to see you know, where we wanted to end up. And while I was in Thailand, I’m one of the recruiters that I’d sent out my CV to has said, right, we’ve got an interview for a practice in Abu Dhabi. And I did the interview, you know, while I was on holiday over-[Jaz]
Skype zoom kind of thing, yeah? [Mark]
Yeah, exactly. That was kind of like the first preliminary one. I know. You know, they were happy with me. They wanted to see if we could take it forward. And then you know, it was helped by the fact that my wife has, has family there. So her parents were living there. So that was that kind of obviously made the decision. [Jaz]
Parents okay, we said you family, I didn’t appreciate parents. That’s a big deal. That’s pretty cool. [Mark]
Absolutely. Yeah. So we made the move much easier. You know, we had a base there, we’d already been a bunch of times to visit and things like that. So that was that was- [Jaz]
And is that why Abu Dhabi and not Dubai, for you, personally, because parents were in Abu Dhabi? [Mark]
Yeah, so the parents were in Abu Dhabi, which definitely helped. Dubai, and I’m sure Fraaz will probably already echo this. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are kind of two different animals. One is kind of the older, more sensible parrot. One’s the wild child. But, you know, they’re both super fun places to be with, you know, I’ve always liked and preferred Abu Dhabi. It just kind of, we were drawn into it, the green space and the seas, like kind of is the backdrop for everything really in the city. So yeah, that’s why we’re drawn that. But yeah, a couple of interviews later and you know, kept going and we ended up there. Yeah. [Jaz]
Great. And Fraaz, ou’re obviously in Dubai right now. So you tell me did you go through a process of thinking about different places to move to and again, I guess my question is, why did you move from UK to now in Dubai and you’re obviously taking your family there as well? And did you consider any other places or was it always gonna be Dubai for you? [Fraaz]
Dubai was actually my wife’s dream. And then this fully because the dream then changed as she got happy. Just live in the UK life. We will Welcome to UK when she got happy there, I was sort of like I want to do something else. Dubai really came along similar to Mark in the sense of we actually have family here. So that’s why it was the other location that’s easy to move to. My inlaws, I have a lot of in laws in Dubai. That’s the main reason for here. And then literally, it was over a phone call. So last weekend of June, my brother-in-law calls then goes, ‘We’re opening up this polyclinic. Do you want to join in?’ I’ve had my DHA license for a good, I think five or six years? Like, ‘Yep, let’s just do it.’ We just made the decision on the phone. [Jaz]
What’s the DHA license? Is that something that you had, yeah? [Fraaz]
Yeah. So, the Dental Health Authority, so the equivalent of sort of the GDC for Dubai. [Jaz]
And how did you have one six years ago? [Fraaz]
So they’ve got like a fairly simple website as he goes through like Cherian portal. You just follow the flowchart, submit your documents, certificates, things like that. You do have to do Prometric exam. So I just went to a like a center in Salford, did set of exam on there fairly straightforward. Yeah, that was it, then you just get your license. You have to get a job though, to make it active. So I actually still don’t have an active license yet until we get the practice up and running. Yes, it’s fairly straightforward. As long as you don’t mind the- [Jaz]
It was always in the back of your mind, then? Because if you had this license, you must have at one stage had the intention or the desire in the back of your mind? Right? [Fraaz]
Yeah, so it’s actually quite funny, because when I got the job in Cheadle, I did my NHS to private transition completely. And I’d given up on the sort of the Dubai dream because I just had a bit of an issue with applying for jobs I just didn’t quite get a sense of, let’s say professionalism was a bit different to how it was in the UK when it came to contracts. I’m not sure what Mark’s experience has been like over there. But I just thought this is how much hustle we’re having with jobs now, remotely. I totally want to, I was too scared to take the plunge, I would say, to move my whole family over, and then have contractual issues. That’s how it felt. And then it was just that June, that phone call where just the opportunity came up. And I was like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to regret it if we don’t try it out.’ So, I’m here- [Jaz]
And one thing I want to see is on your Instagram, I see you know, you have some beautiful dentistry and looks like there’s no shortage of patients and stuff. And so did you feel as though you’re taking a big risk? Like imagine someone who’s got like, a steady income as a dentist, maybe a mortgage, I don’t know if you had one or not etc. and then to sell up and give up everything to move. That’s a big risk, in a way. I guess it’s helped by the fact that you’re moving to a family sort of venture, I guess. But tell me about your thoughts in that regard? [Fraaz]
Yeah, so I think financially, yeah, there’s a financial risk, but I think over, although I know I think to a lot of my older colleagues, I would still be see it as like a fresh new dentist. I feel like after what, just over 10 years experience? I feel like you build that confidence in yourself, you know what you can do. I’m quite confident in the level of customer service and Dubai, a lot of it is about service. So I know that I can bring that service to here. It’s just about you got people through the door. I think we’ve got the location right. And then we’ll see. I think another person that helped me was I don’t know if you’ve had James on one of your podcasts already. James Martin, so- [Jaz]
He was somebody as well, I was speaking to a lot. And he changed a lot of my mindset with the whole thought of money. So you realize it’s quite, it’s something which you don’t really have to have much of an attachment to? There’s always ways to make money. So you do what you love. And you’ll always find a way. [Jaz]
Well done for chasing your dream or as a wise man, you chased your wife’s dream. So even more brownie points and whatnot, so well done. And both of you, I did right by your significant otherss sounds like. So before we- [Fraaz]
I hope so. [Jaz]
So before we come on to the spicy contractual things, which definitely piqued my interest. Mark, what are the requirements, like if dentists in the UK is thinking, ‘Okay, I want to go like, for example, when I had to go to Singapore, I had to like, agree to a position, I had to get some paperwork with the SCC, but there wasn’t the exams to do.’ I guess Fraaz already touched on it. But do you want to summarize in a paragraph? So what are the requirements that you need tickbox as a UK and maybe international dentists to work in the UAE? [Mark]
Sure. So kind of, for us, that there’s quite a simple process in terms being and I can talk about the HAAD, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi, which has now transformed into the DOH, Department of Health. So they operate kind of independently. So between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there’s two separate governing bodies. The first step in terms of is your accreditation. So you have to go through something called the data flow, which is like where you submit your papers, work through, you know, it’s an outsourced company that will validate everything, all of your degrees and your references and things like that. In terms of exams, there’s for Abu Dhabi. There is nothing that you have to do if you’re graduate from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and a couple of other countries, I think the US as well. So from that side, it’s fairly straightforward. The requirements are just that you have all of your paperwork is in order.
So I actually applied without having had the job, you know, in my hand, and you can get through all of the paperwork, it’s kind of get somewhat accredited. And then finally, the last step is once you have the job, you kind of attach that on to your license. And then you license and gets attached to a facility, which is kind of obviously the practice that you’re going to be working. If I missed anything out, I think that’s, that’s pretty much it. It’s a straightforward process, it is timely, it took a good like three or four months minimum to kind of get through all of that, because they will send back things for more rubber stamps.[Jaz]
That’s an important point, because that’s three to four months of loss of earnings and something that a dentist should keep in mind and then plan for and accommodate for. Fraaz, anything want to add to that, because it’s all very fresh in what you’re living through right now? [Fraaz]
Yeah, the only thing I would say to add, well, I wish I knew there was a Prometric exam for the DOH license, because I think it’s quite easy to then switch them across, I believe. So I would have maybe done it that way around. But anyway, it is done now. And regards to, if anybody’s thinking of it, because of the amount of months it takes later, they do come back and forth with small tweaks you need to make. My advice if you’re thinking get your license done now. Iit’s not. It’s not too costly. I can’t remember the exact cost, it’s on the top my head but I think it was less than 1000 pound when you equate it for the license. So if someone’s thinking of it, just go and do them get your two or three licenses sorted- [Jaz]
And that’s a one off rather than an annual release renewal. Right? So one off, [Fraaz]
There is an annual renewal fee but it’s fairly inexpensive. I think it was a few 100 dirham, which is- [Jaz]
Oh it’s like GDC money, it’s like- [Fraaz]
That’s a lot of benefit. [Fraaz]
You have three UDAs. All three UDAs pays for your renewal. [Jaz]
You know what, on this topic, and this might be complete rumor, this might be false, right? And this might be, I might be talking complete garbage. But one of my old principals told me that some of these Arab countries, that there is no such thing as dental protection and stuff because if something bad happens, something wrong happens. It’s Inshallah, that they say that it’s what it was meant to be. Is that correct? [Fraaz]
Mark, I think you’re probably in a better position than I am since I’m at the beginning of the journey. [Mark]
Okay, well, yeah. So, I mean, there is indemnity, but I think it’s related to the facility rather than the clinician. I know, certainly, that I didn’t have indemnity that was directly associated to me. And my practice owner was kind of deducting a small fee, but it was nothing like what we’re used to paying in, in the UK. I mean, I have also heard stories of you know, you know, surgeons that, you know, if something goes wrong, they’ve got the passport, and then they leave the country. I don’t think, I think those are all urban legends. I don’t think they’re actual reality. But yeah, I think that certainly that the level of litigation that clinicians face in the UK is not not there, in the same way. [Jaz]
Like in Singapore, they had dental protection stuff, but my fee was like, a quarter of what we would be paying here, basically. And that’s how it was and even then, it was like, a must, it must have been compulsory, I guess. But it was very rare for litigation to be at the top of someone’s mind as a dentist and I imagine it’s the same there. [Mark]
Yeah, I mean, I think in the same way that you practice defensively or you practice carefully and you always try to do the best for your patients. It goes without saying right? That’s how you get to operate in anywhere. [Jaz]
Just because you don’t have it doesn’t mean you end up being reckless. Of course you’re supposed to stay true to your ethics and whatnot, but it’s just a requirement wise it’s good to know that okay, maybe a medical legal, just wanted to get the medical legal landscape, I guess. [Mark]
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It’s different in the sense that you know, I didn’t pay any dental indemnity protection while I was there are that was significant. It was only coming out of, it was not even noticeable. So yeah, it’s definitely not the same figures that we were looking at in the UK. [Jaz]
Sure. And for us, what’s next for you now? So you got your license years ago, in a way and now you’re waiting for it to become active. Now tell me about this polyclinic, this sounds like a family kind of, are they doctors? Are they creating a clinic with different specialities? [Fraaz]
So my wife and her sister or two sister they’re all chiropractors. So two of them obviously my wife comes over. They will be having the chiropractic side in the polyclinic. This is where I think if Steven Davis just does listen to this, he might be cringing a bit because I incorporate them into my TMD wear. As to do a podcast on that, I think chiropractors of TMD. So they’re there. [Jaz]
Let’s make that happen for us. And we’ll get your wife on, we’ll have chat again about that, you know, you definitely piqued my interest. And we need to geek out on TMD stuff for sure. Yes, carry on. [Fraaz]
Sounds brilliant. We’ve got like a medical GP, obviously very different to the UK, because all insurance based here, or just pay as you go, then we’ve got some aesthetic sites like laser hair removal, like the HydraFacial stuff. That side of everything I’m not really getting involved in, that’s my sister in law’s husband. So I just called him, he’s just a very good businessman. So he’s got a couple of yachts here and car hire. And this is his next venture. And then I’m basically essentially similar to a typical UK setup where I’m almost renting the space and doing my own thing within the polyclinic.
So with those, we have a license on the six specialities on the clinical already. And we need to now get the radiology license and then the dental license will be something we’re doing afterwards. So we’re doing that now. We’re currently in the process of it. Once that’s granted, then I can attach myself while I’m attached with the license on the practice, and that I can attach myself my personal license to be able to work as the dentist inside the clinic, if that makes sense. So I have like a flow diagram of how everything’s attached.[Jaz]
Sure, sure. I mean, your situation is very unique. If you want to go down, the more Mark way of applying to a cold practice, someone you don’t know, principal who’s looking kind of thing, essentially, is they probably have to do a bit of paperwork, you have to do a bit of paperwork, and they sort of need to sync together to activate the license. Is that a good gross summary? [Fraaz]
Yeah, to my knowledge, yeah. So as I got that far with a few job offers, where we got to the contract stage, and that’s where everything sort of fell through. However, it was just that they just need to activate my license attached to the clinic as Mark pointed out before. [Jaz]
Fine. Now, before I ask you about the contractual issues, I have a very good friend of mine, who practices I’m not gonna say in which country, but country we all know very well. And then he also considered going to Dubai. And now I’m thinking very carefully. Should I continue or not? I’m going to continue. So he was Indian background. But he had a very good Queen’s English. He had the Queen’s English, okay. And so he felt really betrayed when he went to Dubai and having some interviews by principals and stuff. Because this is what the principal said to him. He gave him a contract, which was he actually no, he didn’t give him a contract. He considered it but it didn’t, because this is what he said to our our brown skinned Indian dentist. He said to him, ‘If I shut my eyes, and I give you the contract’, basically, he’s trying to come say that he can’t decide where he’s is an Indian dentist, who is your British dentist, basically.
So it’s racism there basically incident that will either contract or give you either offending the Indian or offending the Brit. Because, you know, I can’t believe that when I open my eyes, you’re a brown guy, but you speak such good English, that’s kind of direction was going and I’m not saying that all principals like this. But that was one N equals one experience that with that I heard of him, and then he end up going to different country, he’s thriving, he’s doing very well. So that’s one thing that I had heard, obviously, might be very different to the kind of contractual issues that you’d come across. And the professionalism, you mentioned, that word professionalism was a bit different. And that’s, you know, funny enough the experience I had heard, so tell me Fraaz and Mark, any stories that you have anything like be careful with this or any lessons?[Mark]
Fraaz, I’ll let you take this one first. [Fraaz]
So my experience is fairly limited. Of course, I know, racial issues, I understand where you’re coming from, but there’s no issues of prejudice from that. My contractual issues were more when I was looking for a job or how to be quite plain about it, I pretty much told the two jobs that I was going for, that I needed to come on a similar salary to what I was earning in the UK, in order to be able to fund and keep my family lifestyle, the same it was at that time. So we’ll try to figure a way where we could see if I did actually earn that amount every year- [Jaz]
Of retainer? On your first few months that we had that thing, we had six months retainer that, okay, if you grossed above it, you get more, but as a minimum, just to help you settle in you have that. So it’s a good thing to have, I think when you’re moving abroad, and I think it’s very fair that you asked for that. [Fraaz]
Yeah. So I think they were trying to work out how they’re going to put that in the contract. And then the two clinics I applied for, there were then I’ll speak like a general dentist from the UK. He was like the manager you could call it and they were owed by saver, the businessman that one was there from different countries. We’ll try keep it as anonymous as possible. And I think it was the communication between there that they had issues. So it just came to where there was just delays and delays. I think so do you have a contract and other contract? And then it’s just mutually we’re like this is just not going to work out.
So let’s just leave it so that was with those two jobs. It turns out the racial prejudice though. I’ve not felt it personally. Obviously, this is my own clinic. So are we from a social media marketing and so on? I’ve not had any, I’m gonna have a feeling of that either. So for me personally, you know, I don’t have any stories, but I feel like especially where Dubai is now is even different to where I used to visit 10 years ago. But this way, I think Mark can probably give a lot more insight and knowledge on two things.[Jaz]
Yeah, Mark, tell us about actually be not only any contractual issues better than actually being a wet thing, a dentist in the UAE in Abu Dhabi. [Mark]
Okay, so well, I mean, so in terms of the my working environment, and you know, the practice, just to give you a bit of background of where I was working, because my situation was a little bit unique as well. And the practice I was working for was owned, and, you know, by just two brothers that were working in the practice, so we had an orthodontist who was working in the practice, and, you know, prosthodontist, that was working in the practice, and they were brothers, one was like, CEO, and the other guy was like, in it. So they cared a lot about their patients, they cared a lot about, you know, the equipment, the materials, everything, and how the practice was operated. So, I think a lot of the problems where people may encounter issues with these contracts and things like that is potentially where there’s kind of, I guess, a separate business entity that has got no relation to the dentistry and- [Jaz]
Like a corporate, right? Like- [Mark]
Yeah! Corporate. [Jaz]
You’re kind of describing a family run clinic versus a corporate really? [Mark]
Absolutely. Yeah. So and, you know, the corporate jobs, you know, exist in clinics, and they exist in hospitals in the UAE. So you know, you can find fine, every permutation of that. And I think the family run business in the UAE is probably getting smaller as a proportion of clinics. So, you know, I was lucky to, you know, effectively by chance, stumbled upon that opportunity. And not only that, you know, we had a polyclinic in the sense of dental polyclinic, we had an endodontist, periodontist, you know, pediatric specialists. So, everything- [Jaz]
Were they all trained within UAE or did these dentists qualified from around the world? [Mark]
Yeah. So they’re all from all around the world. Our endodontist was from Turkey, my pediatric specialist was raised to do sedation clinics with was trained in the US, but he was originally Libyan heritage. We had prosthodontists from Syria, the orthodontist and the other owner were both Palestinian. We have Lebanese Periodontist, so it was great. I mean, they’re all from I guess, you could say the Middle East and Middle Eastern heritage. But yeah, we had a very intimate- [Jaz]
I love that about Dubai, man. I mean, guys, you guys might know this, but maybe I’m saying it wrong. But I think one in five of the people in UAE are actually Emirati, like maybe that’s the wrong stat, but something like that, right, like, so people are from all around the world. And I remember being on holiday in Dubai, and being in this lovely restaurant and the South African couple were eating next to us. And the man who has been there for like 20, 30 years described Dubai as Disneyland for adults. And I’ll never forget that. [Mark]
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It is a little bit like that. Yeah, you did. The Emirati population is only 20% of the full of the whole country. So yeah, they’re a minority. But, you know, it’s an amazing place in that sense. And, you know, I have never experienced that kind of racial prejudice, it’s sad that the people do, I’m sure it exists it probably in the way that it does everywhere. But you know, luckily, it was an issue and I think it’s not something that’s common, but I’m sure it does exist. [Jaz]
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Yeah, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t get it out there in terms of like a Just be careful kind of thing in case you come across this but yeah, hopefully it is just a one off kind of thing. And it’s not going to affect anyone, we kind of covered already in terms of processes and how long it takes, make sure financial advice, make sure you have four to five months worth of supply to feed yourself and your family before you go out there. If you were to do something like that, before you get your affairs in order. And anything I just want to add so far before we now talk about quality of life, which is what life is about right? It’s not about yes, it’s about the dentistry, is so important. But you know, how can you nurture and raise children in a country like that the school system, the income, all these things, but before we get on to the fun bits, anything you guys want to add in terms of contractual getting to work there, the systems or anything like that?[Fraaz]
I think in terms of jobs themselves, I just speak to a lot of dentists who are already here, I think it’s very limited with applying for jobs when you’re not in the country, for a couple of reasons. So number one, I think you almost now. So given you have to have your license already sorted out, a lot of people just want you to reply to unless you have your license, which can also remotely, you don’t have to come into the country, which is great or- [Jaz]
That is golden advice right there, the thing that you told me. [Fraaz]
And then number two would be if you are really serious, and you can’t take the financial hits to come over, maybe some of the busier times or busier periods, unless you physically present yourself to this sort of clinics after do some research. Because a lot of people in Dubai will just go jobs like that they literally walk in with a portfolio and be like, I want a job, let’s negotiate type of thing is from people I’ve heard secondhand, but I’ll show Mark, if that’s similar to what you would say or something a bit different for your experience. [Mark]
My weigh in was a little bit different. But you know, I think as you said, for us, I think no one will give you a look in without the license because it can be such a long, lengthy process that will filter out so many people. That’s something that you definitely have to have, you know, 80% done or pretty much done. And then I think it’s in the same way that you select any job I think, a little bit of reflection and time taken to choose a good fit is important, especially important when you’re moving abroad as it is in the UK. [Jaz]
Guys, episode one of the podcast is all about my experiences moving to Singapore and came back and at the time I talked about the Singapore dental classifier on the SCC website, there was like this monthly PDF that would come out with all the sort of different vacancies. Where do you begin to look for a job in the UAE as a dentist? Is there a community forum? Is there something that’s like the BDA equivalent like a website? Is it indeed? Or I don’t know? You tell me. [Fraaz]
I use them. Indeed. Just Google jobs with the main two. And then through some of the dentists in Dubai, they’ve got like a British dental Whatsapp group, which I still need to get myself into. There are people just post on there. People just post on the WhatsApp group like looking for a dentist and we know anyone. There’s not so much of how in the UK we’ve got like Facebook groups and what I tend different Facebook groups among dentists, so if you have an argument of one dentist, you can join another one. You don’t really have that over here. As such, there isn’t like a UK or British Dental Group or Facebook, to my knowledge that everyone sort of uses, dollar mark Wales you used? [Mark]
I mean, the only other one that I can think of there’s a golf based site called bayt.com, which I think they post jobs on but and then actually, you know, I send my CV out to recruiters so the recruiters would have actually called me when the opportunities came up. And that was how I got in. [Fraaz]
I think, just to be careful of, just last a tad is there are quite a few scams that go around as well. And some of them can be quite realistic because there’s just as you mentioned rubber stamps before then they love rubber stamps over in Dubai. So they’ll send you lots of official looking things. So you have to be careful as somebody who can be quite tricky scams. Yeah. [Jaz]
That is really valuable, man. That is good to hear that. Well. It’s sad to hear but it’s good to have our wits about us and antennas. [Fraaz]
See that Mark? Mark, I think enjoys a rubber stamping. Group of stamps. [Jaz]
I think you both have been through enough rubber stamping. Right. Let’s talk about quality of life. You both got three children, right. So I know Mark, your youngest is two. Fraaz, how old your youngest, and your eldest? [Fraaz]
So they’re five, three, and one. [Jaz]
Wow. You’ve got such a young families. That’s amazing. So I mean, you bet. I mean, Mark, you’ve already experienced a schooling system there to some degree. Fraaz you already see at the very front of your mind, you’re thinking about where my kids going to school and stuff. So a lot of dentists when they’re moving, a lot of people in general in any career when they’re moving, they’re either at the very beginning of their career, or maybe towards the end of the career. So children come into the factor for to those young dentists maybe starting a family and stuff. So how does it work?
Schooling, I’ve heard conflicting things I’ve said schools can be very expensive, but at the same time, I was saying to Mark to get domestic helpers is like, amazing. I get nannies and stuff very accessible. So Mark, let’s go with you. What advice do you have to a dentist who’s thinking about taking their family like you guys did to UAE?[Mark]
Sure. So we had actually had both two first kids while we were living in Abu Dhabi, my eldest Jonah started school there. So we had him in the lease in Abu Dhabi, which is the French schooling system. And, you know, the quality of the schools is amazing. The teachers in our school certainly were all civil servants from France that were there working there. So you had and it’s the same for the British schools. So they’re all privately funded schools. So you have an American Academy, you’ll have B sack which is the British schools schooling system.
So wherever you’re coming from, you can actually almost transplant your kids. And they can have the same sort of educational continuity that you had. That they were having while they were back home. So the schooling is good, it’s expensive. And there is competition. I think the competition is even tighter in Dubai to get places. So people you need to apply early to get spots, but you know, your kids can get in everywhere. In terms of fees. Yeah, the fees are not cheap, but you know, equivalent to, let’s say, private schooling in the UK, I think.[Jaz]
Okay, they are similar, they’re not like astronomical out of reach kind of thing. Like, if someone’s already paying for private school in the UK, they could probably then also transfer that to Durham’s and afford a school in the UAE. Is that fair to say? [Mark]
Absolutely. I mean, I can give you a rough ballpark, I think we were paying about 30,000 dirhams for our son’s school. So and that was like, for the French system. So I don’t know what the other schools in Dubai are like, probably the range is big. And I’m sure you can pay up to 100 per year if you want to- [Jaz]
Of course, so Fraaz, what are you thinking for your children? Have you found a school ready for your eldest? [Fraaz]
Yeah, so the eldest two will, because in January, there’ll be six and four. So they’re, they’re going into the January, we find a school for them. Echo what Mark said about the competitiveness. January seems to be a decent time because a lot of people leave the UAE and new people sort of join just seems to be the way the system is over there. So places do free up. So we’re quite lucky. So we’ve got our places in school we wanted and they’re with their cousins, because I’ve got cousins the same age.
So yeah, so we’ve been quite lucky though. Most of our family helped my toast my sister in law did all of that. All I did was, have you found the school was good, but wife, a sister in law communicated all I did was to deposit by let’s transfer it that’s all. I was just transferring the money. That’s about it. I think in terms of cost, I think maybe a little bit higher than the average of the UK but not much more because my eldest two who are already in private schools at the moment this may be in great British pounds maybe two or 3000 pounds difference over the year per person so I suppose it’s not a crazy jump are a-[Jaz]
Little bit dearer. But I guess the elephant in the room is, there’s no income tax. Let’s just get that out now. There is no income tax now. Have I got that wrong or right? There’s no income tax in UAE. Right? [Fraaz]
No, there will be a 9% corporation tax on businesses come June. Next year. That’s coming into effect. But I suppose like the UK just find a good accountant. Miles away. No. So way the system. [Jaz]
Amazing. Well, that’s one good thing. In terms of income levels, though, you know, when we talked about the first episode, when I called with Singapore, and when my guests are in there talked about what you can earn as a dentist in Singapore, it was really important that we reflected a range because if you ask how much you can earn the UK, you’re gonna have a range, right? Associated with a monthly take home will be in a wide range, it could be from 3000 to 40,000.
In the UK, it could be, right? If you think about it, so maybe not as wide as that. But as a remuneration kind of concept. Do you think you can live the same lifestyle, if not better in the UAE during the same time dentistry that you’re doing here? Or is it going to be a bit more of a squeeze on your finances moving to UAE as far as you get the vibe and as far as you feel? God, Mark, you go first? Because you-[Mark]
Okay, all right. Yeah. So I’ve done time there. Yeah. I mean, I think you can definitely match your salary in the UK. So I didn’t really take any hits in terms of what I was taking home. [Jaz]
Like the net, right? Because the gross might be low in Income tax. Right? So we’re talking net? [Mark]
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Okay. So if we’re talking net, maybe it was effectively is about the same. I think the key thing here is also makes a big difference what the environment and the system that you’re working with. So for example, our practice was mainly treating Emirati patients. So we had an Emirati base and we were treating using one particular kind of insurance or mainly one kind of insurance.
So one thing to this important to note is the patient base wherever you’re going, because if they change the insurance rates that they pay out to you that can impact your pay almost overnight. Right. And that happened while I was there. So but you know, as I arrived, and towards the end of where I left, yeah, it was matching matching what we earning in the UK. So that’s your same range that you could have in the UK exists.[Jaz]
Thank you and Fraaz, what are you expecting because obviously you haven’t worked there yet. So what are you kind of expecting? It’s scary, I’m sure but what have you got in terms of financial planning? [Fraaz]
So I think in terms of like, I think with like dentistry, going back a little bit, you’ve got different personalities. And I think of applying the same personalities. So going back to the big DF, so like, VT purse, I was type person, I said, I need to become good at extractions. So I don’t care what that radiograph says, I used to go for everything. And I got myself to a lot of problems. But that’s how I learned maybe dangerous in the UK climate, but I got through it. And I learned a lot, so very much sort of going in with that similar sort of approach. So I’m trying- [Jaz]
You’re just focusing on the quality of dentistry and in a good advices, you’re gonna see, you’re gonna hopefully, see that reflected in income over time. [Fraaz]
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I’ve made contingency, obviously, got my financial sort of plans in my mind of, you know, what your thresholds of how long you can sort of live for and so on. I mean, I sort of haven’t tried to too much look at the other markets. Obviously, you’ve done your normal, you’d almost have to compare yourself. But I almost feel as though like it with me. If you look at everyone else, sometimes you may confine and restrict your own ideas. Sometimes it’s good to let your mind just go, what do you think is right, and do what you think is best if you have the confidence. And then you’ll tweak it. So my first child wants is, I call it my tweaking 12 months, I’ll learn and then we’ll take it from there. So my assumption at the moment is I don’t know. [Jaz]
That’s totally fair. I mean, I wouldn’t expect to know all the answers, but it’s good inspiration for someone who might be thinking of moving there in terms of okay, what to keep in their mind. So, I guess a summary of that is yeah, the earning potential is there. Would you say and here’s interesting when you say, based on you Fraaz, your perception and Mark your experience, in terms of the ceiling, in UAE?
Do you think it’s higher for income in terms of if you look at the averages in the UK, from your colleagues and stuff from what you feel. And then perhaps a ceiling? And you are you do you feel as though the ceiling might be higher because of this whole you know, you see on Netflix, Dubai blinging stuff, and it’s a very affluent place, and maybe the top denture you’re doing, is that a fair perception?[Fraaz]
HSC Mark, before you answer that, if I give you my perception, and we’ll see how that lands with your experience, sure. Because it might be different to all so because in my mind, generally what I’ve learned is, end of the day, even in the UK, you’re going to hit the ceiling. See, it’s it’s hard to put a finger on it, until you make it into a business which then you’re almost no longer a dentist, you become a businessman and your dentistry is a secondary, you either open a practice or whatever dental type of business you go into, or you hire associates, things like that. And I feel the same exact same thing with Dubai, just like Dubai is a place where Dubai is of our business. How would you meet it? You moved to Abu Dhabi, that’s how I understand it. [Jaz]
Mark, what do you think about that? [Mark]
Yeah, I mean, I think you first kind of knocked it right on the head, you know, that there is probably a ceiling that you are going to achieve with being an associate in the same way that you probably will in the UK. And that ceiling can be super high for some people that are putting in implants, you know, eight hours a day versus someone that’s, you know, doing our simple class twos, but, or not so simple class two. But you know, that’s in the nature of it. But yeah, you I think the word of caution, I would say is that it’s, you know, people have this perception, and it’s probably a well crafted perception of the UAE and Dubai that they sell an image of the streets being paved with gold. And as soon as you come here, it’s out of your pockets.
And, you know, you start going to the vending machines to buy gold bars, and you have a cheater in your car, you know, some of these images do exist. That’s there. It’s not something that there is a real Dubai and a real life and there’s like people that are kind of living a normal life and that’s kind of the reality of moving anywhere, right like and Dubai or Abu Dhabi is no exception. There’s normal, normal life that’s going on. And I think by moving there, you’re not suddenly going to be erupting and cast.[Jaz]
Yeah. And then when I remember when I moved to Singapore for work, and I had a great time there. But then I had to keep telling myself that whilst I’m here in Singapore on holiday, I need to appreciate the holiday is not real life, and that your real life experiences are going to be different to experience on holiday, you won’t be eating out lavish every single day. You gotta get you know, think about and visualize what daily life might be like. And I suppose that’s important to keep in mind when you go to visit a place I’m sure you guys would agree. The other thing I want to cover is final bits is like daily life in the UAE, like the heat in the summer is unbearable, they say and also in terms of the timings, is it right that a clinic would open maybe in the morning and then take like a four or five hour siesta kind of thing and then open the evenings, Mark what was your hours like? [Mark]
So our hours were not like that. Actually, we worked. So when I first arrived to Abu Dhabi, we were working six days a week, which was at back then very normal. So we were working. And we only had Friday off. I was wanting to convince my boss that we have to close on clothes, what an extra day. So we’re going to have a two day weekend. And now I think officially, actually, so where it was a Friday, Saturday weekend, I think it’s shifted now in the UAE. So you’ve got to find it, you know, Saturday, Sunday weekend. So that makes things a little bit easier. The work hours are long, but no, we didn’t have, you know, the siesta time in the middle of the day. And it was a normal, sort of, I think we started at 10 and finished at six or seven, something like that. So that’s kind of how our clinic was run. [Jaz]
Fraaz, what about you in terms of the jobs you apply for and also the polyclinic, in the future, have you decided on timings? [Fraaz]
I’m actually still in the process of deciding. I have come to understand that if you don’t open a certain hours, which can be quite early morning and late afternoon, early evening, then you are really going to miss out on sorts of clientele so I’m still deciding at the moment. I like to my take on an associate and so on. So I’m not to set but I think we will be doing a similar pattern to what you said maybe not four or five hours, but a couple of hours close in the middle of the day.
But everyone do the school runs and so on because Dubai is a bit early than some of the American timing. And they will probably reopen but I’m still yet to decide. But I’ve come here with the mentality of for the first few years it’s gonna be like, it’s gonna be hard work not used to my nice cushy associate four and a half day nine to five and 9 to 5 and 9 to 1 as it was in Manchester, with my clinic given me all my patients and yeah.[Jaz]
Yeah, I’m excited to follow your journey, Fraaz. I have every faith in from what I’ve seen so far. So now, I wish you all the best and my friend honestly, we all we’re all rooting for you everyone listening right now. We’re all rooting for you. Exciting story. And again, so thankful that you gave up your time fresh in Dubai right now and how exciting that we had your sort of input from that as well. I guess the final bits to talk about now before we wrap up this podcast is any final bit of advice that now you’ve thought of now that we’ve discussed everything, to anyone who’s probably thinking of moving to the UAE for work from wherever they are in the world US, Australia or wherever, anything that we haven’t covered yet that you want to leave everyone with, because we’ve talked a little bit about lifestyle.
I mean, one thing we didn’t discuss a lot about is having a nanny and a domestic helper, but from what I understand that’s quite a thing there. That’s quite common place to have that for childcare, and that really helps massively, but anything else on that vein, either work related, or culture or quality of life related that you want to leave the listeners and watchers with, Mark?[Mark]
I mean, you know, I think we’ve covered most of it, I guess, you know, the UAE did give us a really great five years, we were privileged to enjoy a really great time there. I think the one of my motivating factors and was being able to be out in nature, and I think, you know, it isn’t necessarily the as I said before, the bling bling culture doesn’t have to be the basis of you moving there while it exists. You know, we did a lot of camping trips in Oman and diving trips and Oman and things in the beach and you know, hiking mountains and things like that. So we had great communities and in you know, in the gym and things like that. So there are still cheap beats and stuff. So there is every kind of lifestyle that you want to pursue there you can find. [Jaz]
And Mark, is there any point have any language barriers or anything issues that thing’s worth checking on after five years, did you find the fact that I don’t know if you do know Arabic or not, but any issues like that? [Mark]
Well, so yeah, so I’m Egyptian by heritage. So I speak Arabic. My Arabic was not great when I arrived. But it certainly got a lot better because as I said a lot of my patients were Emirati and it’s a tough, it’s a Scottish of Arabic, really, it’s a challenge to understand. But you know, they’re all really great. The patients are really nice and patient and the official work language is English, right? So you don’t need to speak Arabic to move there. So- [Jaz]
Yeah, that was the same in Singapore, you didn’t need to know Chinese or Malay or anything like that. And it was workable in English. So it’s good to just know that’s the case. Fraaz, do you speak Arabic or any of your colleagues where they already have any language issues? [Fraaz]
No, I’m the only one who unfortunately my family that’s not like bilingual so my wife speaks Arabic, which is more the classical Arabic. My kids, we’re trying to get them into that. So Dubai hopefully will help and then see my in laws. So like the odd one out in that respect. [Jaz]
We’ll have to follow up and make sure you’re doing okay and Fraaz, anything that we haven’t covered yet. They want to leave as a final thought of this podcast. [Fraaz]
Yeah, I think my similar intentions of living here have quite similar to Mark’s where I’m not trying to chase the Ferrari or the Rolls-Royce or the villa that’ll all be nice if it comes. But that’s not the intention, the intention is to, to enjoy life for what it is over here. A couple of things that pulled me in that some of you might be thinking of is like the safety aspect, a good example is just now. So as you know, we’ve had issues with be setting up for this podcast, I tried to run over to die.
So to try and get like an adapter for the headphones, I’d left my laptop, iPad phone, everything, just on the Tim Hortons counter, just went over and I know what’s going to be there, when I come back. You know, I know it’s not gonna be taken or anything like that. So simple, small things. So safety, that’s a big factor and the lifestyle I think you can make about what you want, really. But again, as Mark alluded to sooner, you can lose a lot of money as well, if you decide to pursue the Dubai bling pathway. So you have to be quite careful and know your personality quite well. Keeping up with the Joneses, I think is quite easy to get into over here.
Of course, in any way of life in any culture. Mark, Fraaz, thank you so much for making such an enjoyable fun podcast about moving to Dubai, I guess my wife will have to listen to it and make of it what she will. And I guess you’ll hear from me, for my principals who are listening, don’t worry, nothing’s gonna happen. I want to be one practice for a long time. But if you piss me off too much, I’ll be on the plane to Dubai. Thanks so much, guys. Well, there we have it, guys, thank you so much for listening all the way to the end, I hope there was lots of nuggets, lots of food for thought, maybe you are settled wherever you are working, maybe you’re happy where you’re working. But it’s sometimes good to know what dentistry might be like in another country. So hopefully, you’ve experienced that today.
And if you’re someone who’s actually actively looking for a big shift, and maybe you’ve been thinking about UAE, I’m sure there was lots of nuggets in there for you as well. This episode is not suitable for CPD, there wasn’t enough meat in terms of CPD, but most episodes are suitable for CPD and CPD certificates. And obviously, that’s all on the app on Google and on Apple, and even the web. So you go to protrusive .app as a website, or download it on the Apple Store, or the Google Store, and I’m constantly adding exclusive content, some of the new content I’m working on now is a full clinical video of me prepping and bonding four units of ceramic under rubber dam.
This is a case where also I had an interesting black triangle when I was trying in the ceramics and how I manage that by sending it back to the lab and how my technician was expertly able to fill in the black triangle and how good it looks now. So lots of learning points in that. And that’s all in the Protrusive Premium Section of the app. And you can also of course interact in the community section and be able to download the videos for offline listening. So in case you have choppy connection, you can just have it downloaded to your device. So that’s all of the Protrusive App. Thank you so much. Once again, I’ll catch you same time, same place next week.