9 Things All Expats Experience on the Beaches of Dubai

The beaches in Dubai are not only unique for the region but for the world as well | © Marc van der Chijs/Flickr
The beaches in Dubai are not only unique for the region but for the world as well | © Marc van der Chijs/Flickr
Photo of Jessica Harn
1 December 2017

Traveling to and living in a completely new country can be daunting for a number of reasons. Learning the local culture, figuring out where to buy your groceries and adjusting to a different lifestyle is a struggle that many expats deal with on a daily basis. In Dubai, because you are living in the Middle East, there are a lot of cultural and religious differences that many expats need to adjust to accordingly (but not without a struggle!) and going to the beach is definitely one of them. Here are nine things that all expats experience on the beaches of Dubai:

Being shocked at just how beautiful and clean the beaches actually are

The beaches in Dubai are known for being almost sparkling clean, making them some of the most beautiful places to relax in the entire region. Most of us have been in utter shock at just how beautiful the white sand and turquoise blue waters are and how it can stay so clean despite the sometimes enormous crowds at the beach.

The beaches in Dubai can be pristine | © Ricardo Santeugini/Flickr

The thrill of realizing how great pictures look on the beaches in Dubai

Almost all expats have taken that one selfie with the glittering beach and skyline of Dubai in the backdrop—it’s just too good to pass up. With the sparkle of Burj Al Arab or other skyscrapers of Dubai and the bright colours of the sea, we’ve all spent more time than we would care to admit getting that perfect new social media shot.

Getting extremely burnt or overheated

The sea is beautiful, but it’s still the Arabian Peninsula! For those of us with skin that’s used to more northern weather, we’ve all experienced the initial burns and waves of being overheated that comes with getting used to the hot beaches of Dubai.

Giving in and buying the expensive food from the fancy cafes lining the beach

A day on the beach just isn’t complete without a delicious lunch or snack—but unfortunately, a lot of the food stalls on the more famous beaches will be tourist traps with expensive foods and drinks. Most expats have experienced the feeling of giving in from hunger and buying an expensive (but delicious) shawarma sandwich or a fresh juice.

Dubai beaches can get extra hot, so be sure to pack plenty of drinks! | © Sakena/Flickr

But then figuring out where to go for cheap Emirati crepes and fresh juice to enjoy next to the sea

After a while though, we’ve all experienced the thrill of discovering the real place to go to for a snack on the beach—usually tucked away in a small street corner next to the beach or at the end of the promenade. There are local Emirati crepe and juice stalls that sell amazingly delicious foods and snacks. Going to the beach just got so much more fun!

Realizing that there are a lot of British expats in Dubai at the beach

While there are a lot of British expats in Dubai in general, they seem to congregate on the tropical beaches of the city. It might be that cold British weather or lack of sun up north, but going to any beach in Dubai will mean you get to see a lot of British expats!

Feeling a bit shy

For those expats who do not wear the hijab, going to the beach in Dubai may make some feel a bit shy when walking around in a bikini—especially when reminding oneself that you’re living in what many claim to be a conservative part of the Middle East. Although the beaches can get crowded with a wide variety of people, it can still feel a bit awkward to stroll around in a bikini or in shorts, knowing that most people cover up in Dubai.

The diversity on the beaches of Dubai should set an example for the rest of the world | © Franklin Heijnen/Flickr

But then enjoying the diversity on the beaches

However the beauty of Dubai is just how diverse it really is, and you’ll soon realize that there are all kinds of people on the beach and there’s no need to feel awkward. You’ll realize that women wearing bikinis look just as normal as women wearing burkinis, and northern European men getting sunburned is just as normal as Nigerian groups of men playing soccer (as you’ll often find in the popular beaches of the city).

Realizing how unique it is to see the Dubai skyline with the tropical beach, side by side

In the end, we’ve all experienced the awe and delight of just how unique it is to be an expat in Dubai. With the sparkling and towering skyline of Dubai right alongside its glittering tropical beaches, it’s hard to find a more uniquely beautiful place in the Middle East than the beaches of Dubai.

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