Common sense tips for expat newbies in Dubai

Published:  13 Dec at 6 PM
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Newcomers to Dubai’s dramatically different culture can be excused for making all the usual mistakes whilst settling in to their new lives, but most issues can be easily resolved with common sense and advice from long-stayers.

Relocating to any foreign country can be stressful in itself, but when your new location is as different as it possibly can be from your home country, it’s best to take care not to upset the locals. Dubai is a magnet for talented professionals from across the world, but it’s no comfort that you’re not the only one making mistakes.

As with all overseas destinations, the trick is to do as the locals do, but Dubai’s culture takes some understanding and blending in is tricky, to say the least. One way to start is to stop calculating your salary and the prices of your purchases from dirhams to your home country’s currency. Firstly, it’s irrelevant and, secondly, you’re not buying at home, you’re buying in Dubai. Not making comparisons is one fast way to get used to where you’re at.

Many expats in Dubai get a minor panic attack every time the emirate’s immigration department changes the rules. Local expat forums are full of posts by confused, often negative expat posters who dissect every change as if the sky was falling in. If you really are worried, approaching the immigration office and asking for clarification is better than endless sleepless nights.

If you’re still in the stage of attempting to get a job in Dubai, there’s one very important thing to remember. Never, ever, use an agent without checking they’re not fake. Promising lucrative jobs for a considerable fee doesn’t mean the jobs even exist, as many would-be expats have found to their cost. Fake agents mostly operate outside the emirate in expats’ home countries, so be warned.

The impact of Dubai’s weather on new arrivals can be devastating, with being prepared the best idea. As with most desert areas, the words harsh, hot, dry and uncomfortable for foreigners don’t even begin to describe the reality. Aircon is absolutely essential, and 50 degree Celsius temperatures are the norm as are scary sandstorms. Basically, if you can’t cope, don’t come.
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