Moving to Dubai for work or to study is a common choice for expats eager to experience life in the Middle East, but in a city that has the perfect balance of tradition and modernity. It is a city that offers plenty of opportunities for personal and career development, thanks to being at the forefront of commerce in the region, and thus home to multinationals in all fields of work. But is life in Dubai all about the abundant sun, sea, sand and financial opportunities?
While at first, it may seem like it, there’s a couple of things that you should know before you move to Dubai. Nestpick, a search aggregator that helps expats find furnished apartments in Dubai and in more than 50 other cities around the world, has got you covered. Here is their list of the things to know before relocating to Dubai.
While Saturdays and Sundays are the (new) weekend, Fridays are important too.
While Sunday is a holiday, like in most cities in the world, it’s a relatively new weekend in Dubai. The change was made beginning January 2022, and some other emirates like Sharjah still have the weekend beginning on Friday. Fridays are important because on Friday afternoons practicing Muslims visit their neighborhood mosques to offer prayers with the rest of the community. So, many offices might be working only on Friday mornings and have the rest of the day off.
When the weather is good, between October and April, the weekend is the perfect time to take day trips from Dubai and explore nature, outdoors, culture, and cities in the other emirates, like Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi. It might take a while to get used to being productive on a Sunday, but you’ll still be working the same number of days per week, so it’s just a small adjustment.
You’re not alone
As an expat living in Dubai, you might be worried about feeling lonely and missing your family, social circle and community, but know that you will be far from alone. As more than 80% of the city’s population is made up of expats, i.e. people who have, like you, arrived to study or work towards a better life or find opportunities, it is quite easy to find your new tribe or community, as Dubai residents are very open-minded and welcoming.
This makes it a hugely multicultural city where you can meet new people and make friends from all over the world. It also means that there’s less pressure to become fluent in Arabic as a large proportion of the city speak English, although it’s always good to learn the local language.
The city plays as hard as it works
Although the UAE is much stricter than Western countries with strictly enforced laws outlawing public displays of affection and being intoxicated in public, the city still has a wild nightlife. Almost everyone in Dubai leads hectic work lives, but bars and clubs are packed full pretty much every night of the week, so you’ll always be able to find a party when you need to let off some steam.
Tuesday nights are traditionally ladies’ night in Dubai, but there are also some ladies nights on Mondays and Wednesdays, so ladies can make the most of this, should they wish. There are also daily Happy Hours and deals in most pubs and bars every night.
It gets HOT
This one might seem obvious (and perhaps the main reason you’re considering moving there, or not), but you should prepare yourself for how hot it really gets before you move. Spending winters in temperatures of 20 – 30 degrees Celsius might sound appealing, but be aware that temperatures reach almost 50 degrees Celsius in the summer months, which can feel like you’re stepping into a sauna every time you go outside.
But don’t worry, everywhere is nicely air-conditioned, and most people get used to the summer temperatures, given how little time you spend outdoors. so be prepared to carry warm clothing (like cardigans or light jackets to protect you from the harsh AC chill) around with you even when the temperature is scorching outside.
Breakfast is NOT the most important meal of the day
We’re often told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but in Dubai, this honour is reserved for brunch- and that too it being the most important meal of the week. Brunch is a regular occurrence, especially on the weekends with Friday being the most popular day for brunching.
Residents in Dubai spend a lot of time and money on brunching, so get ready to make this a regular part of your schedule. People love to dress up, and a lot of partying, networking, and socializing happens around brunches, but there are also plenty of family-friendly brunches with live entertainment for families. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself attending back-to-back brunches with the number of themed brunches happening round the year.
Dubai is an exciting, fast-paced, and cosmopolitan emirate that has so much to offer to anyone relocating there, just make sure that you’re prepared for the culture shock as well as cultural and social etiquettes before you move. Good luck and enjoy your new, exciting life living and working in Dubai.
Looking to move to Dubai or visiting Dubai? Here’s your complete guide to what to wear in Dubai. And here are 20 signs you’ve been in Dubai too long. If you’re already in Dubai and thinking of cool things to do on the weekend, here is the UAE’s only wildlife safari or you can relax in the hot springs near Jebel Hafeet.