Things You Should Know Before Moving to Dubai

Enjoy the hustle and admire the constantly changing skyline of Dubai as a new resident
Enjoy the hustle and admire the constantly changing skyline of Dubai as a new resident | © Hanna Slavinska / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Thais Kelly
12 April 2021

The most important tip for anyone moving to Dubai is to leave any bias behind. You’ll only be ready to embark on the adventurous experience that is life in Dubai if you forget your expectations of the emirate. Dubai is like no other city in the world – full of life, energy and surprises around every corner.

Prepare for the hustle

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Dubai residents are always so busy. The lifestyle is non-stop and the word hustle is frequently used when talking to friends. Everyone has a long list of things they need to get done for work, the errands they have to run and the stresses they are experiencing. No one can really escape the Dubai hustle, so it’s crucial to be prepared for a busy and often hectic routine. The residents live a fast-paced life.

Weekends are Friday and Saturday

Weekends do not take place on Saturday and Sunday in the UAE. Here, the working week starts on Sunday and weekends are on Friday and Saturday. This is because Friday is a holy day in Islam and people should not work on this day. This normally takes a little getting used to at the first but after a few weeks new arrivals will learn to embrace TGIT – Thank God it’s Thursday.

It’s expensive to live here

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People don’t always realise that the cost of living in Dubai is very high. Rent, groceries and bills can amount to surprisingly large amounts, so it’s important not to be dazzled by a high salary – it might just cover essential bills. Many people move to Dubai thinking they’ll soon be driving a Lamborghini and sipping champagne on a daily basis – that’s often not the case.

You must follow the country’s rules

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You must always abide by the rules of the country and the city if you want to stay out of trouble. They may sometimes seems strange, such as public displays of affection being outlawed, but they are part of life in Dubai and breaking one can lead to your arrest or deportation. Stay on the right side of the law by avoiding being intoxicated in public, making sure you never buy fake goods and not taking pictures of strangers.

You’ll make friends with people from all over the world

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With more than 80 percent of the Dubai population being formed by expats, people moving here will make friends with people from all corners of the globe. It’s one of the best things about Dubai life. It’s important to have an open mind when coming here and avoid any prejudice against other nationalities and cultures. Racism here is severely frowned upon and people you speak to are likely have a close friend in many countries in the world. Be respectful.

Every Tuesday is ladies’ night

This is exciting for new female arrivals who like to party. Almost every bar and club in the city will have a ladies’ night, usually on a Tuesday, which offers free drinks and massive discounts on food. Some places have ladies’ night on different week days to ensure the party keeps going every single day.

Practise some Arabic

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If you move to Dubai from elsewhere in the world, you will probably never feel the need to be fluent in Arabic. Everyone in the city speaks English and even if you’re living in Dubai, you’ll very rarely need to speak Arabic. However, everyone who lives in Dubai knows some key phrases from the language. There are a few words that expats will hear on the daily basis that are essential. So when a friend says “yalla“, they are asking everyone to hurry up; when someone says “inshallah”, they are hoping for the best outcome from a situation.

Dubai is always under construction

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With new attractions and immense skyscrapers opened every year, Dubai is constantly under construction. You will see massive cranes in every part of town, building the latest biggest something in the world. This can often be inconvenient and the street you take home every day may suddenly disappear or become impossible to access.

People back home will never fully understand Dubai

It doesn’t matter how much you try to explain what life in Dubai is like, your relatives and friends in other countries will never fully grasp what it is like to live here. Dubai residents often hear questions such as: “Do you ride a camel to work?” or “are you a millionaire?” No matter how much explaining you do, it is difficult to make someone who has never lived in Dubai understand life in the metropolis.

Prepare for the heat

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Those moving to Dubai will have probably heard how hot the city is. However, you won’t understand just how hot it is until you move here. With summer temperatures often hitting the high 40Cs (115F), it can feel like you’re inside an oven. However, there are ways to cope with the heat. There is air conditioning in every building in the city – even at bus stops. The walk from the office to the car may be torturous but a cool blast of air is never too far away.

Brunch is a must every weekend

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Dubai residents love their brunch. New arrivals will be surprised by how many brunches people can attend, sometimes moving from one to another on Fridays. Whether you’re with work colleagues, friends or family, this meal is the most important of the day. So prepare your stomach, liver and wallet – you’ll be brunching more often than you could possibly imagine.

There is a lot of traffic

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This one will be a shocker, especially for people coming from cities with great public transport. The Dubai Metro only has two lines, so it does not have access to most parts of the city. And commuting by bus is no better – it can take three times as long as taking a cab, so nearly everyone has a car (or three) and there is just so much traffic. You’ll learn to come up with strategies for avoiding rush hour, as a 20-minute commute can take over an hour at that time.

There will never be a boring day

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Life in Dubai will never be boring. Whether hustling around the city trying to get things done, meeting people from different parts of the globe, or trying not to break any rules, you’ll experience a new adventure every day. Sometimes fun, sometimes chaotic, sometimes just plain crazy; this city ensures that every single one of its residents will have unlikely tales to tell.

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