When dealing with co-workers or new acquaintances in the UAE, more likely than not you won’t be shaking hands with the opposite gender. Both because of the local culture and Islamic tradition, most people in the UAE won’t initiate body contact, which means if you’re someone who loves their personal bubble than Dubai is the place to live!
Yes, you’ve read about how hot it can get in Dubai, especially during the summer, but nothing really prepares you for the reality of living in the desert. Burning eyes, constant sweating, dry throat, and a throbbing headache are just some of the lovely symptoms we all experience when trying to get used to living in Dubai in the beginning.
While the futuristic skyscrapers of Dubai are captivating, nothing really compares to the raw beauty of the desert surrounding the city. We’ve all experienced it … the barbeque in the desert, social media profile pictures of us jumping over a sand dune; the desert is just so different and exciting!
Everything, from food to furniture and your groceries, can be delivered to your front door. We’ve all been way too enthusiastic about this in the beginning and have ordered things left and right and regretted it later!
People in Dubai are always so well-dressed, glittering with jewelry and scented with the most exquisite perfume, so it’s no wonder we’ve all felt underdressed at least once! We either learn to step up our game, or learn to ignore the stares and continue going to the corner shop in our pajamas.
Almost every middle class or rich family in Dubai has a maid, and if coming from a country or culture where having a maid is not the norm, this tradition can be a bit upsetting or even infuriating in the beginning. Most of us have experienced the shock at the sight of a maid trailing after a family at the mall, and while there is nothing we can really do about it, it’s still something that we’ve all had to internally come to grips with.
Coming into Dubai as an expat, you expect to have to adapt to the local culture and traditions … until you realize that the expats in fact completely outnumber the local Emiratis. In fact, most expats will adapt into the international expat culture of Dubai more than the rather exclusive local culture!
The Arabic word “inshallah” means “God Willing”, and is used after a sentence in almost every single scenario. “You have to come to work on time tomorrow!” will be answered with “inshallah”. “Do you know where this is located?” you ask your taxi driver, with him answering “inshallah”. The word becomes addictive, and you quickly learn how useful it is!
Dubai Mall is just so active, so colorful, and so addictive for anyone in love with shopping or being in a crowd … and we’ve all experienced the love of doing all our shopping at Dubai Mall. Even if it’s a little more expensive and crowded, it’s worth it to be able to walk around in the biggest mall in the world.
While the local language of the Emirates is indeed Arabic, and while many of us binged on last minute attempts to learn the language; almost every single expat has been through the shock of realizing that you really don’t have to know Arabic to live in Dubai. In fact, because of the large number of expats from India and Pakistan, you’ll more likely pick up a few phrases in Hindi or Urdu instead.