Dubai, United Arab Emirates Report of what it's like to live there - 12/29/16
Personal Experiences from Dubai, United Arab Emirates
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. Previously lived in Southeast Asia.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Home city is New York. Trip is about 13 hours direct flight.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing in Dubai is generally good. As with other posts, families are housed in villas in a more suburban neighborhood while singles and couples without school age kids are in high-rises. Many officers are housed in a high rise near the consulate which has the advantage of being walking distance to the consulate and is also connected to a mall making it convenient for shopping. Some other officers are housed in a high-rise downtown which is farther from the consulate but is in the center of the downtown right near the Burj Khalifa and Dubai mall. The villas are generally located walking distance to the beach.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
A bit more expensive but if you shop around you learn which grocery chains carry cheaper produce/items.
3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
This is Dubai. Tons of restaurants ranging from cheap Pakistani food to extremely expensive high-end restaurants in five star hotels and everything in between. Dubai's restaurant scene is truly diverse and extensive.
4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Can be more expensive and complicated than other posts since everyone in Dubai is an expat. Household help generally involves sponsoring someone for a residency visa.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The consulate has a gym.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Yes. No problem with using credit cards.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
All the religious denominations seem to be represented including ones you wouldn't necessarily expect.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
English is the language of Dubai. You don't need any other language.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes. Taxis and metro are safe and reliable.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
I don't have a pet but I know there is a 24-hour animal hospital and numerous kennels.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Dubai is a very safe city. You won't have any issues even walking alone late at night.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Air can be sandy/dusty. High humidity in the summer can mean mold in your house.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
None that I am aware of.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
There are about 5 months out of the year where it is very unpleasant to be outside even in the early morning or evening. June, July, August, September you can expect temperatures of 100+ degrees every day and during the summer it's not unusual to have stretches of time where it is 110+ degrees every single day. The other 6-7 months out of the year are lovely but be prepared not to want to spend any time outside from May through September.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Lots of activities for kids. The malls have things like ice skating, skiing, bowling, aquarium, lego land. Sega games center etc. There are also water parks and the beach.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Expats comprise about 90% of the population Dubai. Morale is high. Living in Dubai is pretty comfortable with the exception of the weather in the summer.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Meet-up groups, InterNations. Everyone in Dubai is an expat so there are loads of activities and meet-up groups for everything from camping to hiking, to yoga, to water sports to book clubs etc.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Good for all. Dubai is a good post for singles because there is a lot to do. There are numerous meet-up groups, nightlife, gatherings, festivals, live music concerts etc. There seems to be less of a consulate community than in some other posts so making friends requires a little more initiative but otherwise you won't be bored in Dubai. Couples will appreciate the restaurant scene and all the other activities Dubai has to offer. Families appreciate the numerous parks and activities for kids. All will appreciate the opportunities for travel.
4. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Lots of special advantages to being in Dubai. World class airport with direct flights to almost anywhere in the world. Easy for family and friends to visit due to the prevalence of direct flights to Dubai. Great nightlife, lots of cafes, restaurants. Incredible mall with lots of movie theaters/shops. Great Indian/Asian food. Very nice beach. A truly international city with a mix of expats from all over the world. A mix of old (spice, gold, textile souk) and new (Burj Khalifa, Burj al-Arab.) The Dubai opera house just opened and you can see all sorts of shows/concerts there. The Bastakiya (Al-Fahidi historic district) neighborhood has art galleries and some lovely architecture. Seeing the Dubai fountain show at the foot of the Burj Khalifa
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
I wish I would have known how hot it gets in the summer and how much that can impact your life. There are about 5 months out of the year where it is very unpleasant to be outside even in the early morning or evening. June, July, August, September you can expect temperatures of 100+ degrees every day and during the summer it's not unusual to have stretches of time where it is 110+ degrees every single day. The other 6-7 months out of the year are lovely but be prepared not to want to spend any time outside from May through September.
I also wish I would have known how expensive it is to live in Dubai. If you are prone to going out to different restaurants, night life etc. you can expect to pay prices on par with New York City which makes it harder to save money in Dubai, even with a cost of living allowance.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes I would.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
City of Gold.
6. Do you have any other comments?
Despite the extreme heat in the summer, Dubai is an interesting and dynamic city with lots to offer and a comfortable place to live. I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to live in Dubai.