Life in Dubai

As I have said before, there really is no place in the world quite like Dubai. We are the business hub of the Middle East, the cross roads between Europe and the Far East, and one of the busiest ports in the world. With all of this business trading hands, it is easy to see why so much hiring happens in the city.

What I want to discuss is not how to land a job (or how NOT to land the job) but just what kind of great city we live in.

Dubai is a human melting pot. It may not appear that way as you exit through the airport, but once you hit the ground and explore the city you really can see the diversity. Sure, we do host many residents hailing from Asia (India, Pakistan, and Philippines – in that order) but we also host every Arab country and we have a steadily growing population of Europeans and other Westerners as well. In fact, Dubai currently hosts over 200 different nationalities. That means many different languages, cultures, customs, and chances to learn something new.

All of this can be a bit daunting to someone coming from a homogenous background. And if that worries you, then a move into this kind of environment probably isn’t best for you. However, if you do make the move, you will find many outgoing, fun loving and hardworking people who do not mind diversifying their human experience and making new friends.

What makes Dubai great is the fact that 85% of the population is from a country other than the UAE and we are all here for the same reason, to work and live a better life. This, coupled with the fact that those who move away from home tend be a bit more outgoing in general, means you can easily hit the ground and create lasting relationships that will help you grow culturally as a person.

What should you do? First of all, be friendly and polite. Don’t hesitate to shake hands and start a conversation with someone new. The possibilities of who you can meet are endless. Remember what led you here in the first place, new opportunities and experiences, go out and have them. I am always amazed at the people who sit at home on the weekend to watch TV or read a book… This is the most amazing city in the world, with endless possibilities in regards to fun and activities. Go out and have fun!

Resident tips

Dubai is a flashy and high end environment, which is very apparent as soon as you land at the airport. Do not become engrossed in the luxury culture unless you can afford it, because you will be outdone by some billionaire and you may end up broke and in debt.

The larger sector of the city is actually very frugal, as they live on a tiny fraction of what an executive may earn. You can literally eat out for 10 AED, buy clothes for 5 AED, and travel across the city all day for 14AED.

Take my advice and avert your gaze from the fancy shopping malls and look around the Deira, Karama and creek area for superb bargains. There is also the famous Dragon Mart where you can buy everything from kid’s toys, electronics, building materials, outdoor patio furniture, and clothing. Make sure you prepare for a day of bargaining and haggling, as well as crushing crowd if you are going after work any day or weekends.

Buy an Entertainer Book! This thing has fantastic coupons for almost everything. Food, hotels, gadgets, car washing, movies, anything! It is a bit expensive upfront to purchase the book or download the app, but if you use it you will make your money back in saving pretty quickly. There is also a Facebook group that trades used coupons.

You need a Metro/NOL card. The Metro is amazing. Add to that the extensive bus system and you do not need a car at all. One card enables you to ride everything; it is called a NOL card. You can recharge it at any metro station and it is invaluable. If you do drive, you will find it much easier to take the metro to places as parking is horrendous throughout the city. Especially if you are working on Sheikh Zayed Road, a NOL card can often get you down the road and back 3 times as fast as a cab at literally 4-10 AED! The trains can be a bit crowded, but it is clean and safe. There is even a designated Women and children’s car to separate them from male passengers if they choose to use it.

Can’t travel to your home country for holiday? Visit the local sights. Near Dubai you are going to find some amazing places to relax just a short drive away. You can head to the mountains of Fujairah for a weekend getaway out of the heat. Or drive to Khorfakhan for a beach holiday in the Gulf of Oman. Just open a map and look around, it is easy to drive to a wadi, book a desert safari, or boat/yacht trip in the sea for a day.

Lastly, be happy and be grateful. As Dorothy famously put it, “there’s no place like home.” But there is also no place like Dubai. A positive attitude will get you everything in this city. It will guarantee a good time if you go out, it will attract fun and interesting people, as well as successful business associations. Hit the streets, meet some people, and make sure to have a good time.

 

– Sharom Farid Al Ansari