Dubai Vs. Tokyo Which City Is Better

Dubai Vs. Tokyo: Which City Is Better?

Dubai and Tokyo are two highly coveted cities for foreigners to live in – and for good reason.

Both cities are modern, safe and innovative, and they’re also designed to offer the best quality of living to their residents.

If you prefer a place where you can create a balance between work and play, Dubai is the city for you. Meanwhile, if you prefer a walkable city that’s close to nature while still having good opportunities, Tokyo is a good choice.

To explain our conclusion better, we’ll show you a detailed comparison of both cities in terms of attractions, culture, cost of living, diversity and demographics, career opportunities and more important points to help you decide.

Top Attractions in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Top Attractions in Dubai vs. Tokyo
Image source: Malla Reddy Engineering College for Women

Dubai hits the mark when it comes to tourist attractions. The city has a long list of landmarks, skyscrapers, theme parks and resorts for you to enjoy.

Tokyo, on the other hand, has more parks and temples, although it also has the Tokyo Tower and other important landmarks that you can visit.

With the goal of steering its economy towards tourism, the Dubai government has invested in building tourist attractions that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. 

So, whether you’re a tourist or local, you won’t run out of fun things to do and explore in the city. In fact, there’s something for every age, preference and budget in Dubai.

Here are some of the top tourist attractions in the city:

Top Landmarks
Burj KhalifaBurj Al ArabDubai Frame
Museum of the FutureAin DubaiDubai Fountain Show
Atlantis The PalmPalm JumeirahJumeirah Mosque
Dubai OperaAtlantis the Palm
Top Malls
The Dubai MallMall of the EmiratesNakheel Mall
Top Historical Sites
Al Fahidi Historical NeighborhoodDubai MuseumDeira Clock Tower
Dubai CreekThe Spice SoukGold Souk
Hatta Heritage Village
Top Theme Parks
Dubai Parks and ResortsIMG Worlds of AdventuresGlobal Village
Dubai Miracle GardenSki DubaiAtlantis Aquaventure Waterpark
Top Nature Parks/Landscapes
Al Qudra LakesDubai DesertRas Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

Tokyo, on the other hand, has lesser tourist attractions and are focused more on experiences with nature, although the city also has some important landmarks:

Top Temples and Shrines
Meiji ShrineSenso-ji Temple
Top Parks and Gardens
Shinjuku Gyoen National GardenUeno Park and ZooMount Fuji
Top Malls and Shopping Sites
Ginza DistrictHarajuku
Top Landmarks
Tokyo SkytreeTokyo National MuseumImperial Palace
Edo-Tokyo MuseumNational Museum of Nature and ScienceNational Museum of Western Art
National Art CenterKabuki-za TheaterYomiuriland
Shibuya Crossing

Culture in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Culture in Dubai vs. Tokyo
Image source: Platinum Heritage

Both Dubai and Tokyo may have become modern mega cities, but they’ve done a great job in preserving their cultures and traditions.

But in terms of language, Dubai is easier to adapt to since it has a largely expat population and most of its locals are well versed in English.

In Tokyo, however, a lot of locals can only speak a little English, so you might need a translator in some instances. 

There are 3.49 million expats in Dubai, which is more than half of its population. So, the city has also become a largely English-speaking community with most locals being fluent in the language.

On the other hand, Tokyo only has 581,112 foreign residents, so its local population still dominates the city.

This is why you’ll see that most locals can only speak Japanese and may need to use a translator when communicating with foreigners.

In terms of culture, both cities have kept most of its practices and traditions including:

Islam is the major religion in Dubai.Shintoism and Buddhism are the major religions in Tokyo.
Any form of crime, drug and alcohol use, and bad behavior in public are punishable by law.Japan's laws are known for being tough against different types of crimes.
You’ll see a lot of mosques around the city where Muslims pray daily.You’ll see a lot of temples and shrines where locals still pray.
It’s prohibited for men and women to wear revealing, rude or vulgar clothing in public.Although not as strict as Dubai, proper dress code should be observed when visiting important shrines and temples in Tokyo.
It’s considered rude to shake hands with a local unless they offer you their hands.Bowing is the Japanese way of showing respect to others. Make sure that you return the bow since ignoring it is considered rude.

Cost of Living in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Cost of Living in Dubai vs. Tokyo
Image source: CNN

Dubai’s cost of living is 23% higher than in Tokyo considering that you’re renting in both cities.

You would need at least AED 20,505 monthly to maintain the same lifestyle that you can enjoy in Tokyo for only AED 14,898.

To give you a better idea of how we came up with these numbers, let’s compare some of the most common expenses and how they fare in both cities using data from Numbeo.

Type of ExpenseDubaiTokyo
Housing (Average Rent per Month)
1-bedroom Apartment (City Center)AED 7,258AED 3,545
1-bedroom Apartment (Outside City Center)AED 4,062AED 2,092
3-bedroom Apartment (City Center)AED 14,174AED 8,063
3-bedroom Apartment (Outside City Center)AED 8,555AED 4,124
Utilities (Average Monthy Bill)
Basic Ulities (Includes Electricity, Water, HVAC and Garbage)AED 707.65AED 591.79
Monthly Internet Plan (60 mbps or more)AED343.82AED 113.14
Monthly Mobile Phone Plan (Includes calls and 10GB Data)AED 229.73AED 91.76
One Way TicketAED 6AED 3.79
Monthly PassAED 300AED 136.99
Taxi StartAED 12AED 12.63
Gasoline (1 liter)AED 3.13AED 4.04
Basic Groceries
Regular Milk (1 Liter)AED 6.92AED 5.18
White Rice (1 Kilogram)AED 7.71AED 9.50
Loaf of White BreadAED 5.33AED 5.52
Eggs (1 Dozen)AED 11.26AED 7.28
Chicken Fillets (1 Kilogram)AED 33.43AED 25
Water (1.5 Liter Bottle)AED 2.13AED 3.07
Meal for One Person at an Average RestaurantAED 40AED 25.25
Three-Course Meal for Two People at a Mid-Range RestaurantAED 250AED 164.14
McDonalds Meal for One PersonAED 32AED 18.94
Coke BottleAED 4.22AED 4.17
Regular CappuccinoAED 19.23AED 11.31

From the table above, most of these common expenses are higher in Dubai than Tokyo, especially when it comes to monthly rental, utilities, transportation and childcare.

Real Estate Prices in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Real Estate Prices in Dubai vs. Tokyo
Image source: Entrepreneur

If you’re planning to buy a home, Tokyo is generally more expensive than Dubai, whether you’re in the city center or outside the city center.

Dubai also has a more extensive housing selection in different areas of the city as compared to Tokyo.

The real estate market in Dubai is one of the best in the world not only because of good pricing but also because of your options.

Here, we compare the price of buying an apartment in Dubai and Tokyo with data from Numbeo:

Type of PropertyDubaiTokyo
Apartment in the City Center (Per Square Meter)AED 14,786AED 27,693
Apartment Outside the City Center (Per Square Meter)AED 8,468AED 15,701

Diversity and Demographics in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Diversity and Demographics in Dubai vs. Tokyo
Image source: Khaleej Times

Dubai is one of the most diverse populations in the UAE with more than 200 nationalities living in the city.

Tokyo, on the other hand, is still highly mono-racial with a 98% Japanese population.

Dubai has always been a multicultural community, which is why it’s very easy for any foreigner to feel right at home in the city. 

In fact, 85% of Dubai’s population are composed of expats while Tokyo only has a 2% expat population.

Here are the top nationalities in both cities:

• Indian

• Pakistani

• Bangladeshi

• Filipino

• Chinese

• Korean

• Vietnamese

• Filipino

• Brazilian

From a demographic standpoint, Dubai has a larger land area than Tokyo, but the latter is a lot more densely populated.

In terms of gender split, you’ll see that Dubai has a largely male population while Tokyo has a largely female population.

Life expectancy at birth is also higher for people in Tokyo as compared to Dubai.

Geographic LocationArabian PeninsulaJapanese Archipelago
Size (Area)4,110 square kilometers2,194 square kilometers
Female Population31%51.18%
Male Population69%48.82%
Median Age33.5 years old48.6 years old
Life Expectancy at Birth78.18 years old84.65 years old

Career Opportunities in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Career Opportunities in Dubai vs. Tokyo
Image source: The Wall Street Journal

A report from CNBC puts Dubai as the second best city in the world to live and work abroad stating that 70% of people are happy with their job and 61% are satisfied with their work-life balance.

Dubai also offers a more competitive average monthly salary of AED 16,267 as compared to only AED 9,869 in Tokyo.

If you’re looking for a job, Dubai has a more diverse career market as compared to Tokyo. 

In this table, you’ll see the highest paying jobs for foreigners in both cities and their average salaries:

Chief Executive OfficerAED 100,000 per monthSales and MarketingAED 38,814 per month
Chief Financial OfficerAED 75,000 per monthDoctorAED 30,318 per month
Chief Marketing OfficerAED 75,000 per monthInvestment BankerAED 15,750 per month
SurgeonAED 50,000 per monthIT ProfessionalAED 14,699 per month
Petroleum EngineerAED 48,900 per monthEngineerAED 14,699 per month
Investment BankerAED 40,000 per monthRisk AnalystAED 13,052 per month
IT ManagerAED 35,000 per monthRecruitmentAED 13,590 per month
Sales DirectorAED 30,000 per monthBusiness AnalystAED 12,495 per month
Marketing ManagerAED 30,000 per monthEnglish TeacherAED 6,260 per month
LawyerAED 25,000 per monthMechanicAED 5,093 per month

Crime and Safety in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Crime and Safety in Dubai vs. Tokyo
Image source: Emirati Times

Dubai is a safer city to live in as compared to Tokyo, according to data from Numbeo where Dubai had a Safety Scale of 83.67 while Tokyo had 76.07.

Dubai also has a lower Crime Index of 16.33 while Tokyo had 23.93.

To give you a better picture of how safe Dubai is compared to Tokyo, we look at some ofthe most common crimes and their rates in both cities:

Type of CrimeDubaiTokyo
Physical attack due to ethnicity, gender, religion or skin color13.9725.16
Car theft15.9319.29
Assault and armed robbery12.1921.01
Theft and vandalism16.6323.18

Lifestyle in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Lifestyle in Dubai vs. Tokyo
Image source: Kyodo News

Dubai is the right city to live in if you want to live in a diverse location that gives you access to modern amenities and conveniences for both work and leisure.

But if you prefer to be in a more budget-friendly city with cooler weather and many natural landscapes, Tokyo would be the ideal place to live in.

To give you a better perspective of the type of lifestyle that these cities  can offer, we compare them based on factors like weather, healthcare and education.

Weather in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Dubai has hotter weather for most of the year while Tokyo enjoys both sunny and snowy days.

On an average summer day in Dubai, temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius while it only drops to 14 degrees Celsius during winter.

Although Dubai has both summer and winter seasons, the city is hot for most of the year since it’s located in the Arabian desert. 

You also won’t experience any snow in the city and rain is only very rare during winter.

Tokyo, on the other hand, has four seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall.

On a good summer day, temperatures in Tokyo can reach up to 31 degrees Celsius while it can drop to 2 degrees on a chilly winter day.

Healthcare in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Both Dubai and Tokyo offer world-class healthcare systems, thanks to the efforts of their governments. But healthcare is considered more expensive in Tokyo than Dubai.

Health insurance in Dubai costs on average of AED 6,000 per year for a single individual while it would cost you AED 10,548 in Tokyo to get the same coverage.

All residents in Dubai are also required to get medical cover. All Emiratis get it for free while foreigners need private medical cover, which will be provided by their employer.

If you’re moving to Dubai with your family, you’ll need to get medical cover for them. 

There are many good health insurance providers in the city that offer these minimum standards:

  • Emergency cover in all emirates
  • A minimum annual limit of AED 150,000
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions after an initial 6-month waiting period
  • Outpatient treatment coverage (20% maximum excess)
  • Inpatient treatment coverage (20% maximum excess and AED 1,000 annual cap)
  • Maternity coverage of at least AED 7,000 (10% maximum excess and AED 10,000 maximum cap for C-section)
  • All essential vaccinations
  • Semi-private hospital accommodation

Tokyo follows Japan’s public healthcare system known as the Social Health Insurance (SHI). 

Anyone who is fully employed with a medium or large company in Tokyo should be insured under the SHI with a 5% salary deduction that will be matched by the employer.

However, you need to wait for one year to enroll with the SHI, in which time you might need to secure your private international health insurance plan.

But once you already have SHI, you can take advantage of services such as screenings, checkups, hospitalization, infectious disease control and prenatal care.

No matter what type of service you use, you’ll need to pay for 30% of the costs while the government will shoulder the remaining 70%. 

Education in Dubai vs. Tokyo

Dubai has a more diverse educational system than Tokyo with a lot of schools offering international curriculum to locals and expats. 

Here, we compare the average cost of education in both cities:

Monthly Tuition for Private Preschool (For One Child)AED 2,609AED 1,670
Annual Tuition for International Primary School (For One Child)AED 44,276AED 53,661

Dubai vs. Tokyo: How They Stack Up 

After considering different factors, Dubai has the leg up when it comes to overall quality of living if you’re a foreigner who wants to move overseas.

The only advantage Tokyo has is that its cost of living is cheaper, although Dubai balances this out by offering no taxes on income and higher salary rates.

To give you a recap, here’s a summary of our comparison of both Dubai and Tokyo to help you decide which city is the right place to live in:

FactorsThe Better CityWhy
Top AttractionsDubaiThe city has more tourist attractions that cover different areas of interest.
CultureDubaiAlthough both cities have strong cultures, Dubai is more diverse and it has a largely English-speaking population.
Cost of LivingTokyoDubai’s cost of living is 23% higher than in Tokyo.
Real EstateDubaiThe average prices for real estate in Dubai is cheaper than Tokyo and the options are more extensive.
Diversity and DemographicsDubaiDubai is a more diverse community with a major expat population while Tokyo’s residents are mostly Japanese.
Career OpportunitiesDubaiDubai offers better career opportunities for foreigners, especially in leadership roles and salaries are a lot higher as compared to Tokyo.
Crime IndexDubaiDubai is a safer city to live in with a Safety Scale of 83.67 while Tokyo had 76.07.
LifestyleDubaiDubai may be too hot during the summer if you’re a foreigner, but it makes up for it with all the options that you have to entertain yourself while staying indoors.

Tokyo may have strong points in terms of lifestyle, but overall, Dubai offers better healthcare and education options for its residents.