Dying in Dubai is expensive: families must start saving money and preparing for the death of a loved one to avoid financial and legal problems after the event. Image Credit: Supplied

We are confronted with images of death and dying on television everyday, yet it is an uncomfortable topic that many families are unwilling to talk or think about. Often a cultural taboo, discussing the death of a family member and how to deal with the body and the estate is considered offensive to the elders.

PDF: Grave charges 

Every day four people die in Dubai and every three out of those four will be expatriates, according to statistics.

It's a sobering fact that does not usually occur to Dubai's young population, here to pursue a better living standard and higher income.

Why open a can of worms, you say?

Consider the facts: The costs that a family must bear if a relative dies on the other side of the world from home can run into thousands of dirhams. Families are usually unprepared for the bureaucracy and red tape of getting the paperwork, organising the embalming, or sending the body home—all in the middle of grieving for a loved one.

The person's accounts are frozen and visa is cancelled—leaving the dependants without enough money for survival and forced to leave the country. Life insurance may not be paid out immediately and the court may take months, if not years, to distribute the person's estate. Those that do not set aside a lump sum of money behind for the family leave behind a knot of financial problems for their family to sort.

Dying in Dubai is expensive: families must start saving money and preparing for the death of a loved one to avoid financial and legal problems after the event.

The Valley of Love, a non-government organization, last year reported 100 cases of families facing financial problems following the death of a relative.

Gulf News takes you through the paper trail and cost of death in Dubai, providing experts' advice on how to prepare for the event.

Additional specifics on  Repatriation costs:

- Calculated by kilo of body and coffin weight. Varies by destination, airlines and total weight. Saving tip: repatriate the body in a cheaper and lighter coffin and transfer to a more elaborate one at home.

-  Repatriation to India: Air India transports human remains to any Indian city for free. Other airlines will ship to India with a 50 per cent discount on IATA rates. Charge is approximately Dh20 per kilo. Total cargo cost is Dh1,500.

- Repatriation to Pakistan: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) ships human remains and provides the accompanying person's ticket for free

- Repatriation to the UK, Dh65-Dh70 per kilo.

-  Repatriation to Africa, Dh95-Dh100 per kilo. It is the most expensive destination.

- Repatriation to Egypt or Lebanon, Dh20-Dh30 per kilo

- Total cost to Europe, Dh20,000 (includes documentation, fees, repatriation).

- Total cost to the Middle East, Dh10,000

- Total cost to Africa, Dh25,000- Dh30,000

- Shipping surcharges: Security surcharge (Dh0.20 to 0.80 per kilo), Fuel surcharges (Dh1 to Dh3 per kilo, depending on fuel prices), screening charge (Dh0.11 per kilo)

-  Help line: Call Emirates Sky Cargo services for further details on 04-2184218


  • Abhay Pathak, Regional Manager, Gulf, Middle East and Africa, Air India
  • Craig Holding, financial adviser and associate director of Acuma Wealth Management.
  • Helen Williams, Bereavement counsellor, Keith Nicholl Medical Centre, Dubai
  • Joseph Bobby, Vice President of the Valley of Love, a non-profit organization
  • Mohammed Marria, senior estate planner for Just Wills, a firm specializing in succession planning
  • Roy Gaunt, Chartered insurance broker, Nexus Insurance Brokers
  • Vivian Albertyn, Managing Partner of Middle East Funeral Services, Dubai
  • DNATA Cargo

Have you experienced financial trouble after the death of a loved on? Have you taken steps to avoid similar issues in the future?