Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ruwais: Cost of Living and Everything Else.

When you talk about cost of living, people have this preconceived idea that you would need to have a HUGE salary to live comfortably in the UAE.  Well, although the statement could be true for some, it could also be untrue!

First of all, do not ask me how much we are getting because definitely that is a personal issue.  But what I can spill out is in what you have to look for in your salary package.   Now, this post as it says refers to the cost of living in Ruwais, so please do not generalize the information I am giving to you as applicable to other parts of this country.  And also, please, this is based on what my household expenditures are and not referring to others' here.  This posting represents my individual opinions and experiences. Thus,  I will not take or bear any liability for disagreements or inaccuracies of data..heheheh.

Since most of the residents here are employed by ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company), the schools or the oil and gas companies (Borouge, GASCO, Fertil, Takreer) which are also subsidiaries of ADNOC, therefore your salary packages should include your basic salary, allowances,  subsidized school fees as well as medical coverage while some will have air fares included separately from your basic pay.

There are 3 schools that you can choose from; Choueifat International, Glenelg International and Asian Indian International.  There are also the local schools but I was told that entry is only permissible if you have a strong foundation in the Arabic language as lesson will be conducted in that language.  I chose to send my children to the Glenelg International mainly because it is a new school and that parents are given the opportunity to meet with the teachers themselves should the need arise.  As simple as that.

Mostly, for education, if you decide to send your children to school as early as 4 and 5 years old, then you will have to pay for their school fees. Depending on schools, this may cost you around 6 - 10k per annum.  If however, you do not wish to part with your own money, then schooling is subsidized up to a certain amount from the ages of 6 to16 ( Grade 1 to Grade 11). 
Bear in mind that up to a certain age, the school fees are more than what the company will subsidize, so in that case, you will need to pay the remaining cost.  Let's say the company you work for gives you 10k per year for school fees but the cost of schooling for that year is 12k, then you will have to pay the 2k.

Nevertheless, take a look at the link below to enlighten you on how the schools are.
1.  Glenelg International School

2. The International School of Choueifat

3. Asian International School
- website unavailable -

Although school fees are paid for by the company, you do have to bear other costs such as your child's school uniform ,bus fare (AED 500 per annum) and stationery and that would not cost you much, most probably around 1.2k per child per annum.
Accommodation is provided FOC by your employer and this is why you get to save a lot of money.  Rental is known to be super high in this part of the world so when accommodation is provided, you should count your blessings. A friend of mine who rents a portion of a villa that was divided into 4 units of apartment is paying AED 3000 for her small unit in Gayathi.  I really can't imagine paying that much money for rent!!! 

Types of accommodation will be given depending on your position and number of children that you have.  It is also given based on your salary package.  If you have opted to bring your family, then you will be given a family unit.  If you come here on a single package, then you will be given the bachelor's accommodation ( a very spacious 1 bedroom apartment, 1 toilet and a small dream bachelor's pad if I were one) and there are those whom are here without spouses/family but have decided to share accommodation with others therefore a 4 bedroom villa shared with 3 others is allocated to them.

With a son and 2 daughters, we are given the Q type residence which has 3 bedrooms plus 1 maid's room.  I would guess that our unit is more or less 1900 sq ft. Not too big and not small at me at least.

Ruwais 2
Ruwais 2
Our block.

Ruwais 3
Photo courtesy of Bettina Schmit
Ruwais 3
Photo credits to Normon Solomon
Ruwais Photographers Group

Ruwais 4

Bachelor's Accomodation

Grocery is subjective depending on what brands you buy.  There are some products which are cheaper compared to Malaysia as there are which are more expensive.

PRICE IS AS OF 12/06/2012 
For example,
1. The largest jar of Nutella in Malaysia was MYR 29 at Giant but here it is AED 25
2. Beras Wangi Thai is AED 60 for 10 kg
3. 6 kg of TILDA Basmathi  rice is AED 57
4. 2 ltrs of fresh milk (Almarai) is AED 11..GoodDay in Malaysia is also MYR 11 for 2 ltrs
5. 400 gm of LURPAK butter is AED 11.60
6. A loaf of bread is AED 3.75
7. Chicken (already cut for just lazy) is AED 20 for 1.1 kg
8. Nestle Cheerios Cereal (375 gm) is AED 13.25
9. 2 kg of sugar is AED 6.50
10. Eggs- prices vary.
If you take the OMEGA ones, expect to pay a lot, if you buy the Saudi, Oman or local eggs, a pack of 30 would be not more than AED 18.

Fish: (per kilo)
Tenggiri is AED 20- 25 per kilo depending on season
Seabream is AED 35 -38
Ikan Kembung is AED 12
Udang galah is AED 45- AED 55
Shrimps is AED 30 - AED 40
Lobster is AED 80

There is ikan tongkol (Tuna) and also Kerapu  and Siakap but I rarely buy these coz we have brothers here who go fishing and are always damn lucky so we always snitch from them. Their last acquisition  was a 7.5 kg Hamoor (kerapu).

Front door of the fresh market.
The best thing is, it is air-conditioned to cool you from the scorching heat!

Hana and sweet little Zahra.

There are veggies that you might want like your sawi, kangkung, kacang panjang, petai, galangal or tauhu (soya cakes) that is supplied on a weekly basis but be prepared to pay a fortune for them.  A packet of snake beans (kacang panjang, kalau tak silapler) is around AED 15, 4 - 5 sheets of banana leaves is also AED 15, screwpine leaves are AED 5 for 10 pieces.  There is local kangkung and spinach and they are way cheaper.

Roughly in a month, I would spend around AED 2400 to AED 2600 to buy my monthly necessities like food, laundry detergent, etc.  Yes, it may seem much, but this includes my children's lunch to school (they have 2 breaks and the canteen does not offer much so it is best that you prepare food for them to bring) and husband's lunch or dinner to work. Comparing to what I used to spend in Malaysia, which was RM 2000 a month (excluding lunch money), this I would say is okay enough.  But again, some may spend less depending on your individual needs.  One thought to ponder on though..since you are earning your salary in AEDS, why should it matter how much the price is here in comparison to back home??  It is not as if your salary is converted from RM to AED kan..does it make that much difference??

Hana and Baby Zahra in front of the veggies..
Hana sure is happy here!

You are given leisure allowances and once you have resided in your accommodation, some amount of this leisure allowance would be deducted from for these 2 necessities.  It should not cost you much considering that you would be using the air-cond 24/7 especially during those sweltering summer days and nights.  Since I live in Ruwais 2, the apartments only cater for electric stoves so what we pay a month is considerably cheap for the amount of electricity that we use.  Unfortunately, I can't really say how much we are deducted as this is company's policy with different companies charging either more or less.  Don't worry though, it should not cost you more than AED 800 per month.  Despite it all, you would still be able to afford buying your wife the LV that she has been coveting!

Not too much difference with what we pay back home. Currently, a litre of RON95 equivalent (Special Grade) is AED1.72. The price is actually quite high for a Gulf-oil-and-gas-producing country that has the 4th largest reserve in the world, but hey, we cannot get everything, yes?

There is also a Super Grade (RON 98 equivalent) being sold at a slightly higher price, but why fill up with this 98 when there are a LOT of high powered vehicles filling up their tanks with 95? (Look, it's that 5.7, V8 Tundra, hey... Chevy Camaro. What, Shelby... no, there is that Corvette, next to the 2012 Mustang. Wait honey, the Panamera is about to finish, let's queue up behind it). Since these big boys use 95, why pay up more?

Charges are a bit more expensive than Malaysia. Heck we have few providers in Malaysia, whereas there are only two (Etisalat and Du) here. Packages start from AED 259 per month for 1 MB/second, AED 299 for 8 MB/second, AED359 for 16MB/s to the ULTIMATE at AED 499 for 30 MB/second! Good point is, the line is very stable and you rarely get cut in the middle if you are downloading something (Hello TM, please read this... heheheh).

Bad things are: you will be charged if you forgot your password (AED 50), you will be charged if you require their techies to help you (AED 100), and forget about VOIP using Skype coz' it is blocked here. My advice? Download and install Skype in Malaysia, and bring it here. But still you cannot make that PC to phone call. Be prepared to "invest" good money if you really want to hang on to the phone.


Credits to Ruwais Photographers Group
Reception area of the outpatient clinic
This is the new hospital.  Previously, we either had to go to Gayathi or the Ruwais ADNOC hospital which is 30 minutes away.  The new hospital I heard is rather high tech and has many departments and specialists.  I will update this post once I go there for the pamphlet.  But..servis sangat lambat!!!!!!! Boleh tanam kopi and kutip hasil.

Now, even though you have medical insurance, you still have to some fees because again. it is subsidized.  For your info, we are insured under OMAN insurance and employees from GASCO are under DAMAN (if I am not mistaken)

Registration is AED 20 and medicine is AED 30. Total: AED 50 per person.(Ruwais Hospital)
Yes, every time you go to see the doctor, you will have to pay the above amount.  And again, the fees differ if you go to different hospitals.  Nothing is free in this world right!

::Check out more beautiful pictures of Ruwais at this link::
Finito!  Now the most popular question that I have been asked is "Is it worth moving there?"

In terms of finances, first of all, it depends on your debts.  If you have a lot, and it takes much of your income well I say to think many many times.  Without any contributions to KWSP, you have to be really committed in saving most of what you earn.  But again, this is just my 2 cents.  Some of the brothers here can live comfortably despite earning AED 10k because they do not have many commitments back home.  It also depends on the number of people you are supporting.  Remember, the more mouths you feed, the more it will cost you.  This does not just refer to food alone..think entertainment, outings, medical, school, clothes.  Ruwais is a very lonely town if you do not know how to entertain yourself! Again my 2 cents.

In terms of leaving my family behind, as I have always said, I am a wife and with my En. Amat is where I belong.  Of course I miss my parents and siblings like sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooomuch and it kills me when I can't talk to my sister for hours and hours like we always do but   I am a wife and my children need their father.  

Since I am here already, I would say for our family, the move is worth it! 


The Tea Drinker said...

it is quite expensive but... the mind opening experience living overseas is priceless.

Wan Sharif said...

Psst you think Adnoc might need a 59 years geophysicist.. Seismic interpreter. .. Ha ha ha
To be with loved one.. Is worth it ..bien sur

A.I said...

Perghhhhhhhh!! *______*"

R.A.S said...

Ayoh Wang,
Geophysicist??? I am not sure but what I am hearing is that the HR is looking for Malaysians to be employed here. Try your luck..
We DO need a 59 year old geophysicist who is matured in thinking and can bring the MAlaysians together and who can also inject some food for our souls and maybe to teach my children and other malaysians' children how to read the just saying you know.
I mean like a sesimic interpreter can also have a depth knowledge in Islam and can therefore share his knowledge with sharing is caring right?

R.A.S said...

It can be quite expensive if you have a total earning(allowances, overtime) of AED 10k and below, with the poor currency exchange and all but if you can earn slightly more than that, say around AED 15k, you will be comfortable. But then again, it does depend on how much debts you have back in Malaysia.

So..interested..we also need a 30++ year old IT specialist who is matured in thinking and can bring the Malaysians together and who can also inject some food for our souls and maybe to teach my children and other malaysians' children how to read the just saying you know.
I mean like an IT specialist can also have a depth knowledge in Islam and can therefore share his knowledge with sharing is caring right? ANd being paired with a 59 year old seismic interpreter, i say that is a strong unit Kira macam avengers jugokler.. heheheh
Yes, it is definitely mind opening! The experience is.

Wan Sharif said...

I believed, Allah willing, I can still find employment.. Where I am now.. Cuma I would like to remain employed or working.. As we do not know what Allah has in store for us.. It would not hurt to know there might be places to fall back should the need arises

R.A.S said...

Ayoh Wang,
Yes..we never know where we will be in the future.
But again, heheh..consider coming herelah..we do need some seniors to be a father/older brother figure to the rest of us..petang2 boleh lah ajor anak anak kat sini ngaji sekali..geophysicist by day, mualim by night..

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Found your blog!

I dont want to be marked a stalker eh. Hence the 'introduction'.


Okay, here with this comment, is the link to mine.

R.A.S said...

Bertuah you..hahah..ok..ok..will pay you a visit too!

Mrs C said...


R.A.S said...

There isn't much choice though here. So far, EGM gives us the best rate when it comes to our monthly provisions. I am a bit generous with my foodstuffs because my children love to eat but that is as far as it goes. We rarely eat out too coz there aren't many places to go so I would cook at home too.
So far, alhamdulillah..we are doing fine!

Anonymous said...

hey, My husband earns 8000AED, I am plannning to move to al ruwais and dont have kids. Can we afford living there as wee need to save 1500AED every month after expenses...

Anonymous said...

Hi fida!! Wow nice blog... Loaded with a superb informationlah
Really really usefull for us. Thank you frend. :-D

R.A.S said...

Hello Anonymous, Sorry for the late reply. I have been tied down with so many things during Ramadhan.

First and foremost, regarding your question, I have to say that I am in no position to give any advice regarding finances. However, I will give my honest opinion based on my own experience, therefore, should there be any discrepancies, do not hold me accountable!

Now, as you have said that you need to save AED 1500, thus you are left with AED 6500.

1. Are you considering buying a car? Mobility in the ADNOC housing is difficult without a car. If you are lucky, you might get accommodation really near to the supermarket but if not, it is quite a distance to walk. You could check to get a rough idea on what a car might cost you. If you are not thinking of buying a car, a bicycle is okay for you alone to get your chores done. If I am not mistaken. the market, supermarkets are willing to send purchased items to your homes.

2. Do you have any financial commitments back where you come from? Is it a lot?

Let's say you need AED 2500 for a car, gas and food (since it is just the two of you) you will be considerably comfortable with AED 4000. That is if you are not a big spender and are not planning to go to Dubai or Abu Dhabi every week.

You SHOULD be fine!
Hope it helps..

R.A.S said...

Nur Fatihah,
Thank you for appreciating my effort!

Before I came to Ruwais, I was boggled with so many ifs and hows and whats. There aren't many blogs that write on Ruwais. I decided to write this post for people like you who share the same ifs, whats and hows like I did.

Thank you again for appreciating my effort.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rosfida,

I just want to ask if the flats at ADNOC housing are already fully-furnished..


R.A.S said...

Dear Anonymous,

Sorry for the late reply. Was travelling during the Eid visiting friends and relatives and hadn't any chance to check my blog.

As for your question, as far as I know..(note: as far as I know..:))the houses are not furnished but you are given furniture allowances.

Hope this helps.


Anonymous said...

Dear Rosfida,

Thank you sooo much for writing about Ruwais. I have been researching for over a week only to discover little bits of information. My husband was offered a job in Gayathi area on a construction project. We will not be given housing by the company but an allowance. We are not sure of housing availability or the average cost per month. A two bedroom would be great for us. Is there any advice you can give on a specific area we can look at? Also, my husband and I have a daughter 18 months. Do you know of any daycare centers that we maybe able to contact. I was told that it would be best to look in Ruwais rather than Gayathi as there isn't much there. If you don't mind answering a few more questions at a later date would it be alright to e-mail you. My name is Raquel and my e-mail addresses is Thanks again

R.A.S said...

Dear Raquel,
I have sent an email to you. Sorry for the late reply!!! Really sorry!

luqman said...

Assalamualaikum Kak,

Glad I found your blog. I am considering a job offer with Borouge in Ruwais. My wife is concerned about the whole thing. salary, accommodation, school etc. basically the unknown things was the headache. Reading your blog is like reading handbook or guide for us.

Hope to see and read more post from you.


R.A.S said...

Waalaikumsalam Luqman.

Good that you found my blog helpful and thank you for appreciating my efforts..
Yes..i do understand what your wife is going through for I went through the same..even after my husband had settled down here very well, I was sceptical of the whole Ruwais thingy. Alhamdulillah, our life is much better here. Hope the same will turn out for you and family.


Candour Reality Zeal said...

Assalam kak ros..
Thanks for the good info.i'm pretty clear on how living in ruwais might be.hope can survive my family there insyaAllah

R.A.S said...

Candour Reality Zeal,
Thank you for appreciating my posts on Ruwais. I am glad to be of some help to you.
Good luck.

Hasan Fawad said...

i am coming to Higher college to tech in al-ruwais. do HCT provide housing within ADNOC housing complex or outside

Anonymous said...

Assalam u Alakum
since you came from Malaysia can you tell me what document are required for admission to Glenelg International School as the website says some attestation from govt offices in Malaysia.
BTW i will be coming from ipoh but i am not a malaysian

R.A.S said...

Dear Hasan,
I am not sure about HCT, but if it is under ADNOC, then surely you will be given an accommodation in the housing area. But to be on the safe side, do check with your employer.

I do not have anyone that I oknow who is associated to HCT, so unfortunately, I cannot help you there.

R.A.S said...

Dear Anon,
Requirements for registration that needs to be attested:

1. Marriage cert
2. Birth cert for the child
(Translated to Arabic and attested)
3. School exam report
4. The "Surat Berhenti Sekolah"
(stamped by Kem Pendidikan/Kem Pend Swasta (if ur child went to a private school) in Putrajaya)
5. Recommendation form
This is a form provided by Glenelg to be submitted to child's school in Malaysia. The school admin has to fill it up with a report on your child's performance. This is a PNC document in which it is only for Glenelg's eyes only..hehehehe..suppoosedly.

FYI, Glenelg is already opened for registration for the term 2013/2014. You might want to get all documents ready a.s.a.p.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments on school
i am still waiting for the visa process to finish and the school term in international school will end in june so i can ask for school report and school leaving cert at that time.
When the reg close and is there a waiting time for Glenelgs school admission.

Any need to attest the school report card or attestation of "Surat Berhenti Sekolah" is only req
Thanks again

Anonymous said...

salam Puan,

First of all, thank you for posting this. I got lots of info.
I just got shortlisted for TAKREER. As mention in email, the salary is non-negotiable. Appreciate if you can give a rough salary for 6 years experiences as a planning engineer.

R.A.S said...

Dear Anon,
Thank you for appreciating this post.

Regarding your question, I personally cannot help you on this as mostly when it comes to matters of salary, it is quite PNC. In addition, I do not know of any MAlaysians who is employed by TAKREER.

Sorry that I cannot be of any help to you. Good luck though.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanx so much for the information on Ruwais. my husband has been shortlisted for Takreer and we wanted to dig as deeper as we can on this so we can see if we can afford. Is there any chance that I can get a job there. I am working in the financial industry as financial advisor.I am looking at something between banking and financial services industry? I don`t want to be a housewife when I get there as I was in Saudi Arabia before we came back to our original country. Thank You.

Anonymous said...

hai this is mannu firstly I found ur blog worthful and my husband recently got job in overseas ATS company and so my question is I heard in ruwais except for adnock people there will be no accomodation given to the outsiders is it true.And if so we planned to stay at gayathi so how that place is ie safty wise bcoz I had 2year and 7 year old babys and what about admissions in Asian international school when the admissions starts and how the school is .Or are there any more schools near to gayathi with CBSE syllabus please give me reply as early as possible bcoz we are about to shift that place with in 20 days

Anonymous said...

Hi good day.i have been shortlist for adnoc ruwais hospital I didn get the offer letter yet. But still I work for good pay in abu dhabi.15k.i would like to is it more than that so if I benefit I can move.pls lemme know

R.A.S said...

Dear Anon,
I am sorry but I do not know what the hospital's payscale is.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul here, how much would be the rent for a 2 bedroom flat? I'll be joining Borouge next month and I will be the one to look for my housing. I'll appreciate any feedback thank you.

R.A.S said...

Hi Paul
Housing is free for ADNOC staffs in which Borouge staffs are one of them.


kulasingam balasingam said...


I got offer tO work in Borouge with free housing & utility.

My package are
30,000 for each child education
25000 (Basic + allowance)

Is this ok for family of 3 adults & 2 childs.

Syed Mohammad Ali said...

Hi R.A.S,

Good day, Kindly note that I have been offered a job in Ruwais with Single Status with full board accommodation. Now seek your kind assistance to know whether I can sponsor my family (Wife + 3 school goer in grade 9th, 6th & 1st & one 11 month baby) or not. Can I get family accommodation on rent & what would be the monthly rent & other associated costs I have to pay for accommodation.

Will AED18,000/ month salary will be enough to survive with family? Kindly advise at your earliest.

My e-mail address is

Appreciate you time & valuable advise.

Kindest regards
92301 8218259

R.A.S said...

DEar Syed Mohammad Ali,
I have responded to you via email. Sorry for the late reply.

R.A.S said...

Dear Kulasingam Balasingam,
Your salary package is extremely well in my honest opinion provided that you do not eat out often, you do not go to Abu Dhabi or Dubai every week.

Bear in mind, housing is provided with a very minimum charge on utilities.. so 25k per month is a good deal.


Anonymous said...

DEAR friends
for a HSE engineer(Indian) with 16 years exp what would be the package like?
The furniture allowance that is being provided by ADNOC,IS IT OK?

Anonymous said...

jazakallahu khairan...ur blog really is very informative.
My hubby recently joined borouge and us in bachelor accommodation. He has applied for a family unit but it seems there us a waiting list for the same.
they say it will only be available after 3 mnths....that too is not confirmed.
I am very eager to join my hubby with my kids.
It would be really kind of you to shed some light on this issue in any possible way. We have been told that people are waiting since the past 1 year.
waiting for your reply

R.A.S said...

Dear Anon,
Okay, my answer will be based on experiences and it is not an official statement from the housing department.

There is a waiting list for those who have already been provided with accommodation at the bachelor's unit.

Since you have been provided with a unit at the bachelors unit, the housing department is giving priorities to employees who are bringing families and have not yet been given accommodation.

Yes, the waiting list can take up to 1 year. My husband got his apartment after 6 months. So dear, you just have to wait. Hopefully you get yours soon.

To give you some hope, there are new apartments already prepared to be given out. Lets pray that you get one soon enough.

R.A.S said...

Dear ANon,
Sorry for the overdue in replying your question.

Regarding the furniture allowance, it entirely depends on you. You have to be prudent and choose wisely if you do not want to fork out any part of your cash to top up your allowance when you go shopping.

IKEA, Pan Emirates have a nice selection of furniture for at an affordable range.

Homecentre is okay but wait for the sales.

The One will suck you up dry!!!

Q Decor too.

masoma said...

hello RAs,

my husband is not direct employee of ADNOC, but in consultancy working for ADNOC, can we get the apartment there in Ruwais right now we are living in gayathi , if externals can get the apartment what rent we should need to pay


Anonymous said...

Dear Rosfida,
Thank you so much for keeping updates about Ruwais on your blog. I have an offer to teach Ruwais. Please email me to

I have few questions to ask you before singed up for the deal. The salary is about AED 17, 200.

Is this a good deal?

Appreciate a prompt reply.

Mohammad Ali

R.A.S said...

Dear Masoma,

ADNOC does not rent out its apartment.

Regarding housing, to my knowledge all ADNOC staffs will be provided with an accommodation based on suitability.

Hope that helps.