Get to know the city’s cultures and traditions
More than 80% of residents in Dubai are born from outside the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Whatever brings you to the city, you can be sure you’re moving to a cultural melting pot. Having said this, it’s important that you arm yourself with as much information as possible about local customs and traditions and how the people of Dubai live their lives. The most important aspect of life in Dubai is to remember that the UAE as a whole is a Muslim nation. Their religion permeates through every facet of life, from social norms to the way they dress.
Learn some Arabic
As Dubai is so brilliantly multicultural, it’s not essential to be fluent in Arabic before you move here. All of the locals speak English, so that should help you settle in. However, it’s common courtesy to make the effort to learn how to greet and thank people, purely out of respect. The Arab British Centre offers lessons in Modern Standard Arabic as well as Levantine Spoken Arabic, depending on your preference.
Be prepared for the heat
If you’re moving to Dubai for the long-term, you’ll need to be able to handle the heat. Summer temperatures can soar well over 40°C (104°F), with the air resembling something similar to the inside of an oven. Air conditioning is in every building and every room in the city – even in the bus stops – so you needn’t worry about wilting in the Middle Eastern sun for too long.
Learn to love brunch at the weekends
Unlike elsewhere in the world, Dubai’s weekends are Friday and Saturday, as Friday is considered a holy day in Islam. The working week begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday. Nevertheless, the people of Dubai still make the most of their weekends. Brunch is regarded as the most popular meal of the weekend, with many groups of work colleagues, families and friends sitting down late morning to devour the finest cuisine Dubai has to offer. There’s something of a food revolution going on here. Deliveroo discusses the growing number of ‘truck parks’ housing food trucks, serving up delicious street food from around the world at brunch, lasting well into the afternoon.
Apply for an alcohol license
All residents in Dubai must have an alcohol license to buy and consume alcohol. Those with a license can drink alcohol at licensed bars and restaurants, often in hotels, and some sports stadiums. Just be prepared for the cost. Alcohol is pretty expensive in Dubai due to the fact it is heavily taxed. And don’t even think about drinking outside of licensed premises or drinking and driving. Even if you’re found with a trace of alcohol in your system you’ll almost certainly be hit with criminal charges.
Get your finances in order
It’s a good idea to set up a non-resident bank account in Dubai before you make the move. This can then be upgraded to a current or checking account once you are granted your visa and have proof of employment and address. Many leading global banks are situated here, including HSBC and Citibank, who can provide all the guidance you need to make the right account choice. And one final thing – post-dated cheques are a common payment method here, but make sure your cheques don’t bounce as this is actually a criminal offence in UAE… gulp!
One thing’s for sure, living in Dubai is never, ever boring. Whether you’re heading to the Middle East for an exciting work opportunity or as a lifestyle change, Dubai is full of surprises around every corner.