5 Things No One Tells You About Moving to Dubai

When it comes to culture shock, moving to the Middle East, whether for your job or for family or whatever other reason, is sure to provide a boatload of it.  A large city like Dubai, while cosmopolitan and packed with plenty of western amenities and state of the art luxury, is also bound to be confusing and disorienting at first.  Slash the homesickness and have yourself out and about with confidence sooner by remembering these five tips about what can rightly be called the New York City of the United Arab Emirates.

Photo by Shahid1024

Photo by Shahid1024

1. The Cost of Living Is High.  If you’re looking to live cheaply, Dubai is not your best bet, especially if you’re coming over with a family.  Main costs will be housing, transportation, and providing private schooling for your children, as foreigners cannot attend government schools.  If you work for a company that provides an ample salary and accommodation, you will be set, and on the upside, all your income will be tax-free.

2. Islamic Practices Permeate All Walks of Life.  Unlike many western countries, where people treat religion as something to be practiced privately, or within their small community, Islam is a public and national affair in the UAE.  This means you will hear the call to prayer sung out over loudspeakers five times a day (in the summer, you may find yourself woken up before dawn).  And while Dubai is quite liberal for its region, Islam requires that men and women dress modestly.  Many Emiratis, in fact, choose to wear the national dress, which is the long, white dishdasha for men and the black abaya and hajab (gown and headscarf) for women.

Photo by Evan Bench

Photo by Evan Bench

3. Prepare To Be Parboiled For Half of the Year.  For six months the weather in Dubai is perfect: warm and sunny and with the occasional thunderstorm.  Unfortunately, this is their winter, and in the summer the heat can be excruciating.  While virtually every building in the city is air-conditioned, the desert heat can be dangerous to those who underestimate it.  Be sure to always stay hydrated and protect yourself from sunstroke.

4. Be Aware of Cultural Taboos.  As a foreigner, you will have a small bit of leeway in terms of appropriate/legal behavior.  For example, as a non-Muslim you are free to indulge in alcoholic beverages, but there is a zero tolerance policy toward drunk-driving.  The same goes for carrying drugs, so be sure to declare any prescription medications you have at your embassy.  Even such seemingly innocent infractions such as spitting, swearing, showing anger, or even dancing in public can result in dire consequences.

Photo by Diligent

Photo by Diligent

5. The Opportunities For Fun Are Endless.  Be sure to check out their world famous indoor ski slope, and at least once during your stay you’ll have to go wadi-bashing, which is an extreme dune buggy ride in the desert surrounding the city.  There are also plenty of beaches, malls, and water parks, though of course modest dress is required.

Prepare for your big move to Dubai by starting Arabic lessons right away.  Take our free online Arabic language level lest to see where you place, or send us an inquiry and we’ll get you started as soon as possible.

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