13 Tips for Expats to Know Before Moving to Dubai

Boats are one way to beat the traffic if you're living in Dubai
Boats are one way to beat the traffic if you're living in Dubai | ©RiskPlayWin/Pixabay
Photo of Thais Kelly
2 August 2017

The most important tip for anyone moving to Dubai is: leave all your biases behind! One is only truly ready to embark on the adventurous experience that is life in Dubai once that is done. This Emirate is like no other city in the world, full of life, energy and surprises in every corner. Here are a few tips on how to prepare for a life in Dubai.

Prepare for the hustle

Dubai residents are always “so busy”. Life in this city is non-stop and expats will often hear the word “hustle” thrown around when talking to their friends. Everyone will always have a long list of all the things they need to get done for work, all the errands they run and how stressed out they are. No one can really escape the Dubai hustle, so it’s crucial to be prepared to have a busy and often hectic routine, the city’s residents live a fast-pace life.

Dubai at night | © bulletrain743/Pixabay

Weekends are Friday and Saturday

This will probably be shocking at first. Although weekends in a lot countries in the world take place on Saturday and Sunday, this is not the case 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 “TGIT” – Thank God It’s Thursday.

The cost of living is very expensive

This seems like an obvious one, but sometimes people don’t imagine just how expensive the cost of living is here. Things like rent, groceries and bills can amount to surprisingly large amounts. So it’s important not to be dazzled by being offered a much higher salary than the ones in your home country – the amount might just cover the essential bills for decent living. Many people move to Dubai thinking they’ll soon be driving a Lamborghini and sipping on champagne on a daily basis – that’s often not the case.

Always follow the country’s rules

This is a must. For anyone who wishes to stay in Dubai and be safe from any trouble, it is crucial to always abide by the country’s and city’s rules. These may sometimes seems strange, such as public displays of affection being outlawed, but breaking even the simplest of laws can often lead to being arrested and even deported. So one should always try to stay on the right side of the law by avoiding things such as public intoxication, buying fake goods, taking pictures of strangers and other illegal acts.

Make friends with people from all over the world

It is common knowledge that Dubai is an extremely international city. With over 80% of it’s population being formed by expats, people moving here will make friends from all corners of the globe. It’s important to have an open mind when coming here, avoid any prejudice against other nationalities and cultures and leave any bias behind. Racism here is extremely frowned upon, as people around will often have a close friend from almost every country. Be respectful!

Sitting the dunes | © Adrega/Pixabay

Every Tuesday is ladies night

Sorry gents, this one is for the ladies! This is exciting for new arrivals who like to party. There will be a club and bar open and full every day of the week – but the most exciting day of the work week definitely is Tuesday. Almost every bar or club in the city will have a ladies night offer, including free drinks and massive discounts on food. Some places even have ladies night on different week days to ensure that the party keeps on going every single day.

Practice some Arabic

Expats moving to Dubai will probably never actually feel the need to be fluent in Arabic. Everyone in the city speaks English and there will very rarely be an actual need to know how to speak the Arabic language. However, everyone who lives in Dubai knows some Arabic. There are a few words that expats will hear on the daily basis that are must-knows. So when a friend says “yalla“, they are asking everyone to hurry up; or when someone says “Inshallah“, they are hoping for the best outcome out of a situation.

Dubai is always under construction

With new crazy attractions and immense skyscrapers being opened every year, it’s only natural that Dubai is constantly under construction. Expats should come prepared to see massive cranes in every area of town building the latest “biggest something in the world”. This can often be very inconvenient and the street one takes home every day might suddenly disappear from one day to the other. However, these constructions are what made Dubai the city it is today and will continue helping the city grow.

Something is always being built in Dubai | © Tim Gouw/Pexels

People back home will never fully understand Dubai

It doesn’t matter how much one tries to explain what life in Dubai is life, their relatives and friends in other countries will never fully be able to grasp what it is like to live in a city like this one. Dubai residents will often have to hear questions such as, “Do you ride a camel to work?” or “Are you a millionaire?” No matter how much explaining it takes, it will never be possible to make someone who has never lived in Dubai understand life in this metropolis.

Prepare for the heat

Those moving to Dubai have probably already heard how hot the city is. However, people can’t understand just HOW hot it really is until they move to this Emirate. With summer temperatures often hitting the high 40s (in degrees Celsius), one is certain to feel as if they live inside of an oven. However, this can be entirely bearable, there is air conditioning in every facility in the city. Even bus stops have their own air conditioning. So the walk from the office to the car may be torturous, but AC is never too far away.

Brunch is a must every weekend

Dubai residents simply love their brunch. New arrivals will be surprised by just how much people can attend brunch, sometimes even marathoning from one brunch to another on Fridays. Whether with work colleagues, friends or family, this meal is the most important one of the day. So it’s important that expats prepare their stomachs, livers and wallets – they will be brunching more often than they could possibly imagine.

There is so much traffic

This one will be a shocker specially for people coming from Europe or other cities with great public transport. The Dubai Metro only has two lines, so it does not have access to most areas in the city. Additionally, a commute by bus can take three times the time it would take to simply take a cab. Therefore, almost everyone has a car (or three) and there is just so much traffic. Expats will find themselves coming up with strategies to avoid rush hour, as a 20 minute commute can take over an hour at that time.

Traffic is terrible in Dubai | © Martinschuschi/Pixabay

There will never be a boring day

With all this being said, it’s vital to know that life in Dubai will never include a boring day. Whether hustling around the city trying to get things done, meeting people from all over the globe, or desperately trying to be cautious not to break any rules – life in Dubai means a new adventure every day! Sometimes fun, sometimes chaotic, sometimes just plain crazy; the city will ensure that every single one of its residents will have unlikely tales to tell.

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