While remote work might be relatively new in the Middle East, much of the region is technologically and infrastructurally well-equipped to meet the needs of remote workers and digital nomads. Diverse, tolerant, and culturally rich, many of its cities are extremely safe, regardless of your nationality or gender, and offer a high quality of life. With breathtaking landscapes, ancient cultures, vibrant heritage, and progressive cities, here are the best destinations in the Middle East for remote workers.
The city’s cosmopolitan vibe, appetite for innovation, and high quality of living are just some of the many reasons that make Dubai a top destination for remote work. It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that a welcoming spirit towards people from all around the world is something that’s built into the very DNA of the city—whether they were pearl merchants and spice traders visiting Dubai’s souks in the 16th-century or exciting start-ups and skilled remote workers in the present day. With all the benefits of modern infrastructure, incredible architecture, and an open mindset, Dubai offers a big city lifestyle that isn’t excessively cut-throat. The city’s various neighborhoods such as Business Bay, Jumeirah, and Dubai Marina afford beautiful city, marina, or beach views, access to an excellent network of public transportation, and proximity to coworking spaces and remote work-friendly cafes.
Thanks to the year-round beach weather, outdoorsy types will find there’s plenty to do, from watersports like kitesurfing and stand-up paddling to hiking in neighboring emirates like Ras Al Khaimah. Beyond shopping malls, explore Dubai’s diverse art and culture scene while art gallery hopping at Alserkal Avenue and during festivals like Art Dubai.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
The capital Abu Dhabi is an ideal choice for remote workers who are looking for a more affordable lifestyle in the UAE, while still having access to modern comforts and a high standard of living. Like Dubai, Abu Dhabi is also home to a significant expat population. With parks, beaches, mountains, and outdoor recreation areas, Abu Dhabi offers a healthy balance for remote workers who want a bit of both an urban lifestyle and access to nature. Whatever your preference, there’s a neighborhood that’s right—from upscale Downtown Abu Dhabi where restaurants, shopping malls, hotels, and remote-friendly cafes are at your doorstep, to Saadiyat Island with its white-sand beaches, golf club, and world-class museums.
Begin your mornings at Soul Beach on Saadiyat Island, go kayaking through lush mangroves at Jubail Mangrove Park, and wander beneath leafy date palms at the Al Ain Oasis. There’s much to discover in your free time—the Louvre Abu Dhabi houses impressive art and history collections from around the world, Al Qattara Arts Center hosts exhibitions in a traditional mud-brick house, and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an awe-inspiring example of traditional-meets-modern Islamic architecture.
If you’re looking to spend a significant amount of time traveling to see some of the best sights in the Middle East while also working remotely, consider Amman as a base. Besides the city’s youthful energetic vibe, friendly locals, and delicious cuisine, Amman is a worthy gateway to famous places like the ancient rock-cut Nabataean capital of Petra, the Martian desert landscape of Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea. For a taste of Amman’s cultural scene, the city’s many museums and art galleries are a good place to start. Admire contemporary art from the Middle East at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, attend artist talks at Darat Al Funun, and browse photography exhibitions or go on an art tour with Jacaranda Images.
Amman’s neighborhoods are a charming juxtaposition of the old and new. For rentals with modern amenities, access to public transportation, fast WiFi, and proximity to restaurants, shopping malls, nightlife, and remote work-friendly cafes, consider finding accommodation in western Amman in areas like Jabal Al Lweibdeh, Jabal Amman, Abdou, and Deir Ghbar. The walkable neighborhood of Jabal Al Lweibdeh, favored by expats and Arabic language students, is particularly recommended for remote workers because it has many coworking spaces.
Oman is blessed with an abundance of dramatic landscapes, from the rippled golden desert at Sharqiya Sands and lush, hillside-hugging terraced farms at Jebel Akhdar to the turquoise waters around the Damaniyat Islands. For active, nature-loving remote workers who are more interested in the outdoors than in fast-paced city life, the laidback capital Muscat makes for a good base. While Muscat is modern and safe, when it comes to the mindset, there is a noticeable emphasis on balancing progress with respect for Omani traditions and heritage. A large number of expats from around the world, especially families, live and work in the city. So you’ll find yourself meeting people of different nationalities and eating at restaurants serving varied cuisines. Omanis are warm and friendly, and if you’re keen, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the culture.
In Muscat, look for rental accommodation in the neighborhoods of Khuwair, Qurum, Al Mouj, or Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos for modern amenities and proximity to beaches, parks, gyms, swimming pools, restaurants, supermarkets, and coworking spaces and cafes. A decent network of public transportation comprising of buses and taxis connects Muscat, but to venture outside of the city, you’ll need a rental car.
In your free time, you can explore Oman on road trips to other towns like Nizwa and Bahla, spot nesting turtles at Ras Al Jinz, or try kitesurfing on Masirah Island. There are quaint coastal villages, verdant valleys, and sand-colored forts that you can reach through a combination of driving and hiking. Many locals spend the weekends camping overnight on beaches or in the mountains. If you’re looking to meet people, join one of many outdoor groups that organize hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking trips.
Natasha Amar is a travel writer and photographer based in Dubai. She also covers food, culture, hotels, art, lifestyle and personalities for Forbes Travel Guide...
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