Dubai, United Arab Emirates Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai, United Arab Emirates 12/29/16

Background:

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.

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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.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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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.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The consulate has a gym.

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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.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All the religious denominations seem to be represented including ones you wouldn't necessarily expect.

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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.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Taxis and metro are safe and reliable.

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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?

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Pets:

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.

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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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.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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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.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

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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.

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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.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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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.

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Expat Life:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes I would.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothing.

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4. But don't forget your:

Bathing suit.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

City of Gold.

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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.

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates 07/30/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No- previous postings to Vienna, Austria and Cairo, Egypt.

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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?

Washington, DC. Direct flight on United or Emirates about 14 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Recently completed one year out of a two year assignment.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Foreign Service Officer.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There is a diverse housing pool for U.S. government employes assigned to the Consulate. It is a mix of apartments and villas with yards. Most people are very happy with their housing assignments. Commutes vary from 10 minutes to one hour.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

All goods are available in Dubai. 15 percent more expensive than in the U.S.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Saltine crackers. Good hot sauce and BBQ sauce. An outdoor grill (overpriced here).

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Every chain that you could imagine is in Dubai. 15 percent more expensive than in the U.S.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Some ants and sand fleas.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO (U.S. government mail system) is very slow. 4-6 weeks for packages. 6-8 weeks for letters.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Easily found. Affordable. Mostly ladies from the Philippines and India. Many exact families have live-in help and most apartments and villas will have a maids quarters.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Tons! This is a gym culture for sure. Everyone wants to look fit at the clubs.

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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?

Easy. All over.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Tons! Do a google search and you will find them.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Tons of options.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None! Do not bother learning more than a few phrases of Arabic. You will not use it. Farsi or Hindi are more useful for everyday life. I really don't know why there are Arabic designated jobs in Dubai.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

None. Good public transportation with wheelchair access. Clean, modern streets and sidewalks. Building with ramps, etc.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Safe and affordable metro. Safe and relatively affordable taxis.

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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?

A lot of people buy when they arrive in order to have a car with Gulf specs that can tolerate the heat and sand. SUVs and luxury sedans are king.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. See comments of telephone providers.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Ugh. Super annoying monopoly by two partly government owned companies - Du and Etisalat. Both are expensive and Skype is blocked.

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Pets:

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?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Good and easily available.

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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?

Yes. Banks, PR Firms, schools, international companies, etc.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Similar to DC. More conservative during Ramadan.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None. I mean it. This is a very safe city. It is often called "Middle East light."

Any crime, no matter its size, is taken very seriously and often leads to deportations. However, the criminal code is very different than most Western nations. Alcohol, sex outside of marriage, and insults to government officials are very serious offenses.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Great facilities and western trained doctors and nurses.

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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?

Beautiful from October to April. Sand storms and humid, thick, hot air in the summer.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

See above. It is really really hot in the summers - 43 Celsius or 115 Fahrenheit on a regular basis. You can't breathe in that kind of heat. It severely limits outdoor activity in the summer and can be claustrophobic at times. Most expats that can escape in the summer.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge. 85 to 90 percent expats.

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2. Morale among expats:

Great for most : ) Low among laborers and household help. Many labor abuses reported in Dubai.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

American women should definitely look into the American Women's Associationin Dubai. It is a great place to meet other female expats!

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a good city for all people. Families live in tight knit residential communities with pools and rec centers for easy gathering and entertaining. Singles have access to a vibrant expat community of young (20 and 30 somethings) from all over the world to meet and mingle with. The bar and club and music scenes are huge in Dubai. Couples have great restaurants, concerts, representational events... You name it and you can find it in Dubai. The social scene feels like Las Vegas without the gambling or NYCwithout the added cultural benefits of the boroughs and East Village.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not so much. There is an underground scene here but there is not a lot of diversity. Most of the community consists of 20 something Emirates flight attendants. Great for casual flings but not for real connections and romance (this applies to the gay and straight dating scenes in Dubai ).

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. Similar gender issues in Dubai as the rest of the Gulf. Very few female Emiratis in management positions in the workforce.

People of African or South Asian heritage will find strong prejudice in the community. Jobs are listed by cultural heritage or nationality rather than qualification in the classified sections (ie wanted- Arab woman to fill publishing position in top firm OR for hire- woman from the Philippines seeks secretary job).

All religions are free to worship in Dubai but proselytizing is against the law.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

I have really enjoyed living in a diverse city. There are expats in Dubai from all over the world. This means that the restaurants are diverse and offer high quality cuisine from all over the world. There are opportunities to meet new people everywhere. Worship services are dynamic.

Cultural excursions to the desert or to traditional Bedouin homes during Ramadan are enlightening. However, there are very few opportunities to interact with Emiraties or engage with the local culture.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Diving in Musandam, Oman. Day trip to mountains of Hatta. Weekend in Abu Dhabi. Kayaking in the mangroves in Fujeirah. Art museums in Sharjah. Desert camping in Al Ain.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Local? Camel milk chocolate.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Dubai has one of the world's largest and busiest airport. There are direct flights to pretty much anyone you would like to go. Cheap flights on FlyDubai.

The weather is beautiful 7 months out of the year and there are lovely beaches in Dubai and within a few hours' drive time.

Desert camping, yacht parties, active pub culture, vibrant expat community.

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11. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Preconceived notions of the Middle East. Winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Money! This is an expensive city to live in.

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates 08/05/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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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?

East Coast USA. There are direct flights from Dubai to JFK -- about 13 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost 1 year

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Corporate

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There are loads of options, especially over the last year or so with a bubble in housing that was constructed. Easy to find an apartment, with a very high vacancy rate especially in JBR, Marina and JLT. From this area it takes 15-20 minutes to drive downtown or 40 minutes by metrp

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is available but more expensive than in the USA

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Everything is available here but more expensive.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Tons. Seems to be more expensive than in the USA

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There are a few places, with each Mall having one

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

none

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Mail gets here, but it helps to use one of the delivery companies. Aramex has some sort of program where you can have a PO Box in the USA to which mail/packages can be sent, and they will automatically be forwarded to Dubai.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Lots of nannies are available on the market, for prices ranging from 900 AED per month to 2000 AED per month. Philippine nannies tend to be more expensive because of their better language skills. Check out expatwomensforum.com for details

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, lots of options.

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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?

Credits cards are widely accepted. ATMs are all over the place.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, local and international. Local papers (The National, Gulf News) are cheap (less than 1 USD per day). The FT is more expensive.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

If you have a car, probably not many. I think the metros are handicap-accessible and almost all apartments and office buildings have parking with elevator access. As Dubai is a modern city, the infrastructure seems designed to accommodate wheel chairs, etc.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are affordable and the metro is cheap. I have never have taken a bus, but there is an extensive bus system.

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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?

Don't bring one, as cars are cheap (no taxes or duties). Lots of used cars are available on the market. If you want to go camping in the desert, you obviously need a 4x4. Toyotas have the reputation of being able to handle the heat.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but packages are based on speed and usage. Not cheap.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The two major carriers (Du and Etisalat) have lots of pre- and post-paid packages. GSM phones work here.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

Yes.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Normal. Suits and ties at the office. Lots of variability in public, with the beach attire including thongs. During Ramadan, one is supposed to dress more moderately. Dubai is "Middle East Lite"

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

So far so good; feels like Singapore here. The roads can be a bit dangerous, as drivers are very aggressive

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Lots of options. The American Hospital is quite good.

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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?

The air is ok. During the summer it is quite hot, so one would want to stay indoors. During the infrequent sand storms, obviously, one doesn't want to be outside

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There is never much rain. From October to May it is moderate -- warm during the day and tepid at night -- but from June through September it is VERY hot

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

We have very little experience, as our son is two. From what I hear, schools are very expensive and of not great quality. You need to do research and probably stick to the International Schools

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I hear that children with special needs don't have many options. However, according to the local press there is a growing awareness

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, lots of options. Also very expensive but quality it ok. We use Kidville.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Football (not the American kind) and tennis.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

90% of the population is expat.

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of options.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for all, as there are lots of expats and lots of communities to find

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I think its there but as this is a Muslim country I don't think it's advertised.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I don't see much, but then again I stay away from the topics of religion or politics.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Family-friendly environment; easy to navigate; great infrastructure

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Beaches, desert, parks, movies, malls...

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Nothing unique in my opinion.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The weather during the winter is amazing

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11. Can you save money?

Not really. Try to get a housing allowance.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

worries about living in the Middle East

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3. But don't forget your:

water.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Dubai Explorer (updated every year). Arabian Sands for history. Purchase the Entertainer Coupon books when you arrive here to get discounts all over the place

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates 01/30/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Have also lived in various UK cities

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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?

Perth, Australia. Very easy, direct flights to Perth with Emirates or flying through various Asian hubs.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Educator

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is mostly apartments, but villas are available. The range and quality of apartments varies wildly. Commuting within Dubai is pretty easy and usually not to long, traffic can be pretty bad in peak hour, there are often accidents.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get everything for a price. Fresh food does not last long and can even be starting to turn before you get it home. Prices vary, you can get cheaper options in local supermarkets or the more western supermarkets have everything that's familiar but it costs more. Products are not always readily avialable and some things can just disappear of shelves for months inexplicably before you see them again.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. You can get it all here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Food quality and price can vary wildly. There are some truly fantastic restaurants here which are very expensive. There are also many cheaper options which are excellent. Lots of places home deliver (including all the big name fast food joints). Pretty much any type of food you fancy is available here. Alcohol is expensive.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

It's all available but for a price. The carbon footprint of this city is very poor, but you can buy organic food from nearly anywhere in the world if you desire it.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None to worry about in the city

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Use your company's PO Box. There is no home delivery service. Depending on who collects your mail it can be pretty safe. I've had a number of things never arrive. I would not recommend you get things which are valuable sent to you here.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very readily avialabe and inexpensive. You can hire for all sorts of positions.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gyms are everywhere. Most apartments buildings will have a gym for tennants to use. If you want to be active there are lots of opportunities.

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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?

Plenty abound. Easy to use

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes. There are a number of Christian churches around the city. There are also places for many other religions. Being Jewish in this city in highly inadvisable.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, quite a few English-language papers and news stations. Some very good ones which have intersting alternative views to mainstream western media outlets. Some free to air TV stations. Quite a few differnt packages are avialable for satellite TV.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is the main language of Dubai. I've learnt some Arabic but there are very few people to practice on. If you speak English you'll be fine.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are cheap and readily available. There are good buses around which are clean and safe. The metro is pretty good but has limited access and stops which make it less useful than other forms of public transport.

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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?

Cars need to be able to handle the extreme heat. The aircon systems in cars need to be gulf certified. Any kind of car is fine in this city, though you'd probably want something with extra safety features as accidents occur regularly.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, depending on the speed you want, you can get packaged easily for about 200 dhs a month on average.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Two phone companies- Etisalat and Du. Both owned by the same parent company. Both can be frustrating. Some numbers cannot be dialled from Du phones with ease.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

It is avialable but there are not many options. Pets are not as common here as in other places.

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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?

Definitely. You can earn very good money in this city.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Be conscious of the local culture. Women should have their shoulders, cleavage and knees covered, but you can get away without being covered, though it could cause problems if you work with Arabs. When going out for the night, you can wear what you would in any other country.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No, probably the safest city I've ever been in. You can leave your car running with the keys while you run into the petrol station for 10 mins. A very safe city. As a woman sometimes you might be mistaken for a prostitute but that's easily solved by ignoring them. I feel very safe as a single woman.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care varies greatly. There is a culture of fear amongst the medical fraternity here, it seems they get sued easily, so if you go to the doctor you're likely to have far too many tests that you don't really need.

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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?

Generally good. We get a lot of sandy days where the city is covered with haze, but, as someone who does suffer with hayfever and asthma, it's not too bad. I've not had any problems.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very, very hot in Summer. You really can't be outside for too long. Sadly, the aircon inside malls and offices is usually far too cold so you jump from one extreme to another. A cardigan or pashmina is a must all year round. Winter is very pleasant.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

A huge variety. Most schools are run for profit and that can mean some bad educational decisions. Depends on what type of school your're looking for, there is a huge range, but they can be pricy. Don't assume that most expensive equals the best. That is not true at all.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Depends entirely on the school. Do your research into this one very carefully if you have children with special needs. Many schools will say they care about special needs but the provision is poor.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Friends with children find daycare pretty easily. Many of my friends hire live-in nannies for little expense. Sadly, most of the children I teach are raised by nannies, maids or drivers.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, there are lots of things for kids to do too. As above.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge- Dubai is 85% expat. Mostly other Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis and Fillipinos. However, there is a good sampling of all nationalities in this city.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varies depending on your social circle. It's easy to forget you're living in an Arab country at times and I hear many people complain it's not like their home countries, but that's because it is the Middle East. Take it for what it is and it's all good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There is a lot to do, especially if you like bars and clubs. Good options for dinner and the champagne brunch is a Dubai tradition. Plenty of other social and sporting clubs are avialable too.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's great for all. It can be a very superficial souless city, so if you're looking for real connections with people, it can be difficult to find. Having said that I have made some very close wonderful friends here. Dating is very difficult- a lot of superficial, transient people make for great flings but poor relationships.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

A surprisingly large and active gay scene. Gay friends of mine have a great time here but it is more hidden as it is illegal. Though Arabs can have a funny interpretation of what it means to be gay.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

You are definitly judged and paid according to your nationality. If you are Arab or Western it can be very easy, but it's heart breaking to see how other nationalities will be treated, especially Indian and Pakistani workers. Gender issues can be problematic. Women need to be aware that this is a conservative country underneath all the glitz. It can be easy to forget that and cause offense. Arabs prefer to deal with people of their own gender, which can make getting things done difficult at times. It's always handy to have a friend of the opposite gender along if communcation becomes problematic.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Best social life I've had. There are always things to do and places to go. It is a very busy and exciting city. Travel opportunities abound.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Heading out into the desert camping or wadi bashing is a lot of fun and you can do it in small groups rather than pay a tour company. Lots of sporting options through duplays. Always clubs and bars to head to. Abu Dhabi is an hour's drive and there is lots going on down there too.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Arab foods are great.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Dubai is becoming a significant travel hub, very easy to travel to Asia, Africa, Europe and of course around the Middle East from here. Weather is great between late October to early May. Lots of sunshine and bright days. Very pleasant. It can be easy to save money here as long as you don't succumb to the lavish expat life style which is very easy to do.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, depending on how you choose to live your life.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes definitly. Though I'd be a lot more picky about my employer.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

ideas that the Middle East is unsafe. Dubai is a very very safe country. No need for coats or jumpers either.

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3. But don't forget your:

designer clothes and accessories. Seems that labels make this city go around.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

City of Life- a recent film by a local Emirati really does sum up the experiences in this city.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates 09/23/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Mexico City, New Delhi, Aukland/Rotarua New Zealand.

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2. How long have you lived here?

I arrived in the summer of 2006.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic assignment.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Direct flights to Washington DC and Atlanta on US carriers (12.5-14 hours), as well as direct flights to many European cities and points east and south, make Dubai a great hub for travel. I've taken direct flights to Jo-berg, Mumbai, Athens, Vienna, and Bangkok; all on Emirates Airlines with their excellent entertainment system and decent food in coach class.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Houses (AKA villas), duplexs, and apartments are available at significant prices and spread throughout the city and suburbs. Some are in commmunities clustered around schools/shopping/play areas. These may even have extensive sidewalks. Others are in smaller clusters that may share, along with architechural similarity and an encompasing wall, a common play area/pool/gym. Commute times vary wildly due to traffic, which varies wildly due to location.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Again, you can get just about anything, for a price, including locally-produced organic foods. We spend a small fortune on fresh fruits and veggies from the local grocery stores (17-29 AED/Kg for grapes or melons or peaches) A bag of baby spinach runs about 32AED. 4 liters of long-shelf-life milk: 14 AED. Household supplies are readily available and range in price greatly due to manufacturer. Many western brands are available, as are cheaper local and South Asian products.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Just about anything you want is available, from street vendors to exclusive resturants. Naan and rice from Karachi Darbar runs about 4 AED. A regular Big Mac meal is 16 AED. You can feed a family of four (with adult appetites) for 70 AED at Ravi's in Satwa--Pakistani food. You can spend 150AED for Friday brunch at a hotel. ALL food establishments, from the kiosks at a mall to restaurants, charge a service fee. Sometimes it is shown on the bill. This is not the tip; this is the "tax" that is paid to the municipality.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants are pretty vigorous, from tiny brown ones that seem to find every dish your teenager hides under his bed, to the larger black ones that scurry around the yard. Scorpions and centipedes are also in the UAE, but you may never see them. Use footwear precaution when in the desert. The government emergency hospital in Rashid carries anti-venom kits.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is common. You must sponsor the person, pay for the visa and provide transportation to "home" each year. Cleaning services are also available at a cost of approx 25-30 AED/hr. These services can also be routinely scheduled.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Several free-standing gyms are available for you to join. others are available with your membership at hotels or beach clubs. Sometimes you are able to use your child's school facilities. And sometimes you are lucky enough to have access through your apartment building or housing complex.

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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?

ATMS are readily available, and credit-card use is the norm.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic, Protestent, Baptist, LDS.... Probably many others, but I stopped paying attention.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable TV is readily available.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is the language spoken here. If you are tyring to learn Arabic, you will find it difficult to practice. Even the road signs are written in English and then Arabic. However, when you leave Dubai to travel to other emirates you will find that having the ability to read Arabic comes in handy.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The city offers very little in the way of accommodations when out of doors; it isn't a city for pedestrians, let alone the disabled. However, indoors you will find better accommodations (elevators, and sometimes larger bathroom stalls, etc.), but not extensively. One doesn't see many with disabilities, but not because they aren't here. More likely, they don't get out much; therefore, there isn't a big push to make the city accessible.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The metro just opened in early September 2009. I've yet to use it because there isn't parking nearby. You need to take a taxi or bus to the metro, but they are safe and affordable. However, taxis can be in short supply during the exibition season (October through April) when the city if flooded with tourists.

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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?

You can import almost anything to the UAE except trucks if they are under a certain age. Many automobiles are serviced here, but sometimes the parts are unavailable locally, depending on where your car was made. (The local dealer tells us what we need for our US-made Subaru, and we get it shipped from the US.) Window tinting is restricted, so wait until you are here to have that done.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

I think we pay about AED 450/month for internet service. It is, however, very slow sometimes.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

If you are bringing one from the US, make sure is tri- or quad-band and is unlocked. You can purchase one here--it will cost more, but it will be unlocked and able to be used with any service provider (du or Etisalat).

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

Yes, but they are becoming fewer due to economy.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Even though Dubai is liberal by Muslim standards, it is best to remember that you are always a guest here, no matter how long you have lived here and whether or not you own property. Women need to remember to be modest in dress. There are signs up in the malls reminding women to cover their shoulders and knees. Just because they don't say it somewhere, it doesn't mean you can be a cleavage goddess. Keep the beachwear on the beach. Business attire is appropriate at work unless you are specifically told that business casual is acceptable.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Dubai has air-monitoring stations throughout the city that can be accessed through the following website: https://portal.dm.gov.ae/AirQuality/AirQualityControllerPublic.action?COMMAND=Main&Language=English
The pollution index for non-particulate matter is relatively good. However, respirable particulate matter (PM10u)
is ALWAYS high and ALWAYS unhealthy in the SAFA area.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Follow the CDC guidelines. The only local difference is that hospitals will give BCG to newborns. You should plan to get influenza vaccine every year and typhoid ever 2-5 yrs.

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Dubai is a pretty safe place, but crime is on the rise. Home break-ins are becoming more common, so exercise standard precautions. The majority of issues still seem to arise from "wrong place/wrong time senarios." And the irritated gesture while driving can result in significant road rage and incarceration for the gesturer. Be aware that you are in the majority, but you are not always welcome. Youths who "hang out" in the many malls of Dubai may find themselves in altercations due to miscommunication/percived slights of honor,etc.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Many physicians are US board certified or the equivalent. That being said, they are all part of the expat community. Everyone goes on holiday sometime during the year, and you may find yourself here without a specialist. Ancillary care can be less reliable.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The weather is hot and humid from end of March through mid November. Because of the humidity, it does not cool off at night. The humidity diminishes slightly during the heat of the day, but you will always experience high humidity. In October people start talking about how it should be getting cooler, and in March they start complaining about the how it wasn't this hot the same time last year. This is bollocks; we all just suffer from selective memory loss--probably due to the heat. From mid-November to mid-March it is cooler. Some days you can even put on a jacket. Every once in a while it rains, and when it does, problems ensue. There is no sufficient storm-water drainage system. Schools have closed due to water pooling causing traffic jams. Your home is also not built to withstand a vigorous gardener who likes to clean your windows, let alone rain. Water pools in your house, running into it through poorly-sealed casing around windows/doors, etc. Last winter we had a Biblical-type flood from the upstairs that ran down the stairs and walls to pool in our entryway. If we could have cooled it sufficiently, we could have had a hockey match on the vast expanse of ice.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are many school options; however, waiting lists can be long. Apply early! IB and IGCSE are available at several schools. Our kids have attended the American School of Dubai and have been very happy there taking AP courses. Tuition continues to rise as the cost of living increases. The gov't has put caps in place, but people complain that many schools are able to get around them.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

There is very little support for children with even mild special needs. Before coming to Dubai, you must work closely with the schools to see that your child will get the necessary support. There are a couple schools, Greenfield Community School and Uptown, that offer some accommodations. There are several good speech, occupational, and physical therapists; however, their patient loads are quite high. You may have to wait significantly for services. Dubai Autism Center has a small facility and long waiting lists.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Many preschools and daycare options are available.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Many schools offer extensive after-school activities. There are also clubs to join that have activities for kids: tennis, swimming, sailing, horseback riding, martial arts, art and theater groups, etc.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Enormous, and you can find people from every continent.

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2. Morale among expats:

People seem pretty content to be here.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is easy to live here; you can get just about anything you need (for a price). Singles/couples seem to enjoy the nightlife (restaurants or clubs). It all depends on what you like to do as a family. We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time with school- and church-based activites, so we keep pretty busy and are pretty content. My younger, single friends say that there is a noticable decline in numbers at clubs and bars since the economic downturn. Those that seem to have more trouble connecting are older singles. However, there are many special-interest groups to join, and because the city is filled with expats, there isn't a single place to go to get hooked into the local social scene. This can be liberating as well as make the process more difficult.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not particularly, because homosexual activity is illegal in the UAE. Avoid being overt in your sexual orientation. Public display of affection between adults is not acceptable. Get your goodbye kissing/hugging done at home prior to being dropped at the airport.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Those from southeast Asia often are paid less for doing the same work as their "Western" counterparts. Asian colleagues often complain about not being taken seriously in business situations. In this age of political correctness, it is often disconcerting to hear stereotyps slung about with such frequency.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Do you have money? Do you like to spend it? Dubai has many opportunities to separate you from you money: skiing, water parks, water sports, boating, desert safaris, hot-air ballooning, restaurants, clubs, beach clubs, movie theaters, gaming centers, golf, go-karts/racing, shopping, etc. However, if you are hesitant to part with your money, things can become quite dull during the heat of the summer, when even the Gulf's waters are too warm to provide any relief. In the fall, winter and early spring, offroading, geocaching, and camping are great inexpensive activities. Fall and late spring are great for the beach. In the winter months, the water actually gets too cold to swim in, believe it or not.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Nothing is unique to Dubai except maybe the camel milk chocolate and bottles of "Sands of the 7 Emirates."

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9. Can you save money?

We've somehow managed to do so, but I think this is because we are focused on the school as our activity base. Every time we go to do something we end up spending about AED 150/person, so we opt for the cheaper options: DVDs, camping, potluck dinners with friends, school sporting and entertainment events.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Dubai is exactly what it seems to be from recent television programs: under constant construction, in pursuit of the "ests" (biggest, tallest, newest...) and slightly without a soul.

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