Just like Portugal, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has drawn an increasing number of foreign citizens over the past decade. I can appreciate the distinct appeal of both places - one of which I call home and the other I visited for the first time, leaving a lasting impression. In Dubai, towering skyscrapers dominate the landscape, and luxury cars are a common sight, which is a stark contrast to the quiet streets of Portugal.

So, why do people choose to live in the UAE? For many, it obviously begins with the tax benefits. There are plenty of opportunities to make substantial earnings from the local economy, including within the real estate industry. The UAE, however, offers more than just financial incentives; it boasts a vibrant nightlife, modern sports facilities, top-notch healthcare, and a strong sense of security. The cosmopolitan restaurants and vibrant mix of people make it a destination of choice for people from all around the world.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Paulo Lopes;

Turning to Portugal, a country steeped in history and known for its welcoming culture, we see a slightly different picture. While we have a thriving nightlife, it takes a different form, favouring open-air venues over the glitz and glamour of Dubai.

Living in Portugal also doesn’t offer the same generous tax allowances, with the tax benefits of being in Portugal becoming gradually less appealing. Healthcare in Portugal isn’t quite up to the standard often offered in the UAE, especially with a struggling healthcare system, and, of course, flashy cars can be spotted but they are less common.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Paulo Lopes;

So, why do people look to Portugal as an ideal destination over somewhere like the UAE? To live in the UAE comfortably, you'll need significant income to cover the higher cost of living and essential services for your family. The relentless heat can often keep you indoors, in the comfort of air-conditioned spaces, with the warm sea unable to provide the refreshing escape you might expect. The desert can sometimes engulf the city in dust, obscuring the city’s famous skyline. That being said, you'll reside among the world's wealthiest, with tax-free income, premium services, and a promising future.

Choosing Portugal means embracing a place where locals value respect and will bestow it upon newcomers as much as they expect it themselves. Food is a delightful part of our culture, wine is abundant and affordable, and the climate is pleasant year-round. Portugal's strong safety record places it among the world's safest countries, with it ranking as the 6th safest country in 2023.


Paulo Lopes is a multi-talent Portuguese citizen who made his Master of Economics in Switzerland and studied law at Lusófona in Lisbon - CEO of Casaiberia in Lisbon and Algarve.

Paulo Lopes