Top tips for new expat arrivals in the UAE

Published:  19 Aug at 6 PM
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The UAE is still one of the most popular choices for jobs abroad due to its elevated salaries and upscale lifestyle, but culture shock tends to hit harder than in English-speaking countries or EU member states.

A local news website recently launched a guide containing five top tips for successful integration into the complexities of living in the Emirates. Its aim is to give incomers a tell-it-like-it-is breakdown of what to do and, more importantly in a Moslem environment, what not to do.

The five subjects discussed are residency, dress code, driving habits, drinking and heathcare, with the first noting that the expat’s company acts as sponsor for the all-important residency visa, labour card and work permit. Requirements for foreign residents include a local bank account, registration of a car, a driving license and a Post Office box.

Dress codes in the UAE may be a shock, but should be adhered to if trouble is to be avoided, and local sensibilities must be taken into account, especially when taking time off on the beaches. Dress should be modest, especially for women, with tight trousers, bare arms or legs and strapless tops or sleeveless tees a definite no-no, and topless sunbathing is forbidden.

Emiratis drive on the right, usually fast and often carelessly, so mirror-watching is important on city roads. Always give way to traffic on your left, and make sure to swap your home country driving license for the UAE version after you’ve received your residency visa.

The tricky subject of alcohol is one of the first questions asked by new arrivals. It is possible to drink in the UAE, although some areas require you to get a permit in order to purchase alcohol.

Drink driving must be avoided at all costs, as it’s a criminal offence involving heavy penalties.Your company should offer health insurance, but check whether it covers your family members. It doesn’t cover pregnancy, so extra cover or savings will need too be brought into play.
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