Moving to Dubai – Things you need to know

In Tips by Steven Kane

Are You Relocating To Dubai?

If you are considering a move overseas, there are few better places to relocate to than Dubai. The city-state is renowned for its extravagant standard of living and also average annual rainfall of only 5 days.

However, does Dubai really measure up to all the hype? At Wise Move we feel these are the most important things you need to be aware of before you relocate to this exotic Middle Eastern location.

Do not sell yourself short
The number one rule, if you intend to fully enjoy relocating to Dubai, is negotiate a comprehensive expat package, this should include things like a generous tax-free salary, housing, medical insurance, schooling (if applicable) and airline flights home at least once per year. This should be the absolute minimum you should be willing to accept, anything less makes moving to Dubai impractical.

Prioritise school search
Schools in Dubai are oversubscribed and have waiting lists. It is very important to reserve school places as soon as you possibly can. In an ideal scenario ask your employer to fly you to Dubai in advance of your move to view schools (and possibly housing in the vicinity of the school) so that you can assess which school is appropriate for your child.

The weekend is Friday and Saturday
Most companies will work Sunday through Thursday. So besides starting a day early, there are no real differences to the weekend. One distinct expat ritual is brunch, however, this is undoubtedly unlike any other brunch you have experienced. Taking place on Friday afternoon, and increasingly on Saturdays too, a sumptuous buffet of top-notch cuisine is readily available to you for a set fee. There is everything to indulge in … sushi, oysters, lobster, steaks and sea bass to truffles, crepes, mocktails, and cocktails. Champagne flows freely and you’ll leave feeling ready to burst.

Socialising is expensive
The vast majority of the country is built to cater to the specific needs of well-off people which means if you are not careful you could end up burning through your salary very quickly. Eating and drinking in restaurants can be quite expensive and although you’ll be fascinated by all the lavish eateries do not make yourself a habitual visitor.

It can get seriously hot
We are not talking Spain or Florida hot. In the summer months (June to August) it regularly hits over 45C / 113F with very high humidity. Getting into a parked car which is not parked in the shade is absolute torture. Whilst most places you go will have air conditioning, any activities outside from April to September can be very uncomfortable. The winter months of October through to February are much more pleasant.

It can be stressful
Whilst Dubai is the most modern Emirate of the UAE, many aspects of life are undoubtedly very different, which frequently leads new arrivals to stress and in some cases extreme unhappiness. Being a long way from home can be challenging, particularly for new expats and becoming familiar with a new culture can take a while.

Being late is almost customary
This may be among the most exasperating aspects of working in Dubai since it is normally an unwritten rule in Western countries to be prompt when it comes to business affairs. In Dubai things are different – people are frequently late, especially if you are dealing with a local Emirati. Nothing personal is meant by this, it is just the way of things and reflects the slower pace of life in this part of the world, albeit at odds with the thriving hustle and bustle reputation which Dubai invokes.

Is dubai safe place to live ?
In spite of the wealth and opulence that Dubai attracts, crime rates remain very low. People frequently leave cars unlocked and it is a relatively safe place for women and kids playing with friends in parks etc.

Ramadan is observed and it will affect you
Since Dubai is part of a Muslim nation, Ramadan, the most significant Muslim religious holiday is fairly strictly observed. Ramadan is the holy month, and throughout this time individuals fast and must abstain from consuming food and water from dawn until dusk. Non-Muslims are able to eat and drink in the privacy of their own homes, but should certainly not do so in public. Ramadan also impacts businesses with working hours are typically reduced. The vast majority of eating establishments stay closed and alcohol is not served. Ramadan is based on lunar cycles and moves forward in the western calendar each year…
2017 May 27 – June 25
2018 May 15 – June 14
2019 May 06 – June 04

You can drive a nice car
Cars are cheap, especially second hand cars, which are very affordable. You have the opportunity of owning your dream car in Dubai. Insurance is quite reasonable, and petrol is fairly cheap so if you have always pined over a V8 muscle car, this is your chance. However, with this said, beware of the next two points

Driving can be dangerous
One of the negative aspects of moving to UAE is you will need to deal with dangerous driving each day. Motorists have the tendency to be erratic which unsurprisingly results in numerous traffic mishaps. Congestion is still a problem despite the pretty much constant construction of new roads. So plan your trips carefully if at all possible.

Speeding kills (your wallet)
There are speed cameras everywhere. It is not uncommon to see 3 or 4 cameras within a couple of kilometers stretch of highway. These cameras are often placed strategically as you descend hills, or exactly at the point the speed limit changes. Before you know it, flash – USD 100 fine! If you exceed the speed limit by 30 kph then it’s double, over 50 kph and its treble. It is almost impossible to contest any type of traffic fine and if you do not pay, you can have your car impounded.
All traffic related fines in the UAE

Respecting the local culture is important
Given that Dubai is an ultra-modern city, and the development of the city and country as a whole has been astronomic; it is easy to overlook the local customs and culture which is very different. It’s essential to recognize the way of life. Keep in mind that during the course of your initial few week or so you are likely to be awoken by the local mosque’s call to prayer and that Muslims are likely to take time off work in order to pray.