The unexpected reality of being a new Dubai Expat – Part 3.


Now you have that job offer and are beginning to build your friendship circle, you now need to adapt to the way things work in Dubai… There are noticeable differences between the way administrative and social things are done in the UK compared to Dubai and it can get tiresome trying to figure out how things work, so here are a few tips we have to help you cope with the change –

  • Patience – Remember everything will work out in the end so regardless of how testing things can be, you will get there in the end so try not to let things get on top of you. Like we’ve said before, setting up in a new place can be draining no matter where you are and Dubai is no different. Once you’ve learnt the way things work here it all doesn’t seem so bad anymore – when we look back we’ve forgotten how difficult things were in the beginning!
  • Longer timescales – when someone tells you something will be completed by a certain time or date – add some hours or days on to that and you will have a more realistic timescale. This isn’t anything personal it’s just the more laid back approach you get here – and don’t be surprised if you have to repeat yourself a few times to different people in order to get one thing done.
  • Citizenship – the general rule is that no one is entitled to citizenship in Dubai, therefore you need to make sure you have a job which offers visa within the package (some jobs advertise for people who are sponsored by their husband or wife and no company visa is provided). You will be required to carry out visa runs until your visa has been processed by your company – click here for more info on visa runs. If you lose or leave a job you will lose your Emirates ID as soon as your ex company files for visa cancellation and you will have to do visa runs if you wish to stay and find another job. (A medical will be required before your visa is issued including bloods and x-ray).
  • Keep conversation basic – when you want something important done, it’s best to keep conversation to a minimum and stick to the most important words to make sure what you’re saying is actually understood by the other person. It’s easy to forget that not everyone will understand British humor or fluent English and instead of asking you to repeat yourself they may just smile and nod to please you. (p.s – this doesn’t mean you talk to someone like they’re dumb – just don’t use overly complicated UK terms etc),


  • Arabic – Make sure you have at least one Arabic speaking friend as this will invaluable when dealing with administrative tasks – i.e. visa issues, medical concerns etc. Government positions are generally held by Arabic speakers so when you want to discuss something of that nature it’s best to have an Arabic  speaker to translate.
  • Dubai Drivers – Dubai drivers seem worse as a passenger than they do when you start driving yourself. The way Dubai roads are structured mean there are main roads with loads of lanes and if you miss your exit it will most likely take you around 30-45 minutes to get back on track – with this in mind you will see people making sudden lane changes in an attempt to take the correct exit, so always drive with caution and be prepared for sudden manoeuvres!


  • Be respectful of rules – Remember that all countries have their own cultural beliefs and ideas of what is acceptable and what isn’t, so if you’re choosing to come to a country that prefers you not to jump on your partner and eat their face off in public – don’t do it lol. Click here for more info on the rules in Dubai.
  • Dubai weather – Weather in Dubai is amazing for around 6-7 months of the year from November – April. From June until mid October it tends to be really hot and humid so you will need to be prepared for the sweat fest – everything will seem much more difficult during the summer months than normal as most expats prefer to go back home or away during the school holidays, i.e. renting apartments etc may take longer to sort with landlords being out of the country. There is little chance of you being able to walk during the summer months so again be prepared for this!


  • Social Media – Do not be surprised if potential employers try to search your social media accounts and use that to influence their decision whether they employ you or not! Most employers take hiring employee’s very seriously and want to make sure they have the best person, professionally and personally, for the job and package they want to offer. Start connecting with beneficial people on social media and this will have a positive influence on job hunters – who you know is everything here!
  • Exchange Rates – Now you’re earning in Dirhams our advice to you would be stop working out how much it costs in your home currency. There is no benefit in working out how much a bunch of grapes works out in London because we’re not in London! Feel free to compare costs in different Dubai supermarkets but once you’ve started working you really need to focus on earning and spending Dirhams!

Once you’ve acclimatised to the weather, found your feet within your own circle of friends and understood the laws and processes in Dubai, you will begin to relax and enjoy expat life that much more. It’s a beautiful place that is waiting to be explored – Dubai is whatever you want it to be.

Hopefully this little series of blogs will equip you to adjust to life in Dubai and help you enjoy the benefits of being a new expat in Dubai!

If you have any worries or questions please do not hesitate to contact us here.



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