What’s Dubai really like for newly-arrived expats?

What’s Dubai really like for newly-arrived expats?

What’s Dubai really like for newly-arrived expats?

If you’re heading for Dubai after the pandemic has quietened down, prepare yourself for a unique experience!

In many ways, Dubai is a totally unique city full of surprises as well as traps for the unwary, giving an experience rare in world expat destinations. Life in the city goes on 24/7, with expats permanently on the run from work to shopping, dining, meeting up with friends, running errands and generally always on the move. There is a routine, but it ranges from busy to totally hectic and needs to be experienced for a while before it becomes the norm.

The first surprise for many new arrivals is that weekend means Friday and Saturday due to Friday being the equivalent of the West’s Sunday – a holy day. Although most new arrivals are aware of the true cost of living in Dubai, those who aren’t and who haven’t negotiated enough of a salary to cover are in for a shock. For expats still at the negotiation stage, setting what seems like a huge amount and sticking to it might just get you enough to live on.

The serious side of living in Dubai is knowing and observing all the city’s and country’s laws. For new arrivals, it’s a shock to find public displays of affection might well result in arrest and deportation, as well as can the contravention of many other seemingly odd laws. Other breaches to watch out for include buying fake goods, being drunk in public and taking selfies with strangers, even if they’re other expats. Another no–no involves racism, including prejudice against any other nationality and bias against other countries. The population of this unique city is still 80 per cent expatriate, and everyone has foreign friends, thus making respect essential.

Many new arrivals feel it’s necessary to learn to speak fluent Arabic in spite of the fact that almost every inhabitant can speak enough English to get by. Although most expats soon recognise frequently used words and phrases, attempting to get to basic conversational level isn’t really necessary. The first thing to realise as a new arrival is that, unless they’ve actually lived there, even your closest friends and family can’t possible understand the reality of living and working in Dubai.

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