Relocating for work can really help your career because it’s often easier to get a job abroad. This is especially true if you are in an extremely competitive sector that requires years and years of experience before gaining a position that pays well. Some of the other ways that moving abroad for work can benefit your career is by improving your cultural awareness, helping you save, boosting your cv and expanding your personal network.
If you’re planning to move abroad, then there’s no better place to immigrate to than Dubai because the city-state is renowned for its luxurious lifestyle and average of five days of rain per year.
But is Dubai all it’s cracked up to be? Here are a few things you should know before you move to this exotic Eastern country.
1. Socialising Is Expensive
One of the first things you should know before moving to Dubai is that everything they say about this city-state is true: it is the playground of the likes of the Kardashians and as such, luxury is all around you. The entire country is built to cater to the specific needs of rich people which means that if you’re not mindful of what you’re spending you could end up spending your salary very quickly. Eating and drinking in restaurants can be quite expensive and although you’ll be intrigued by all the fancy restaurants don’t make yourself a frequent patron.
2. The Weekend Runs from Friday to Saturday
Rather than getting Sunday blues, here you get the Saturday blues. Aside from this minor detail, there are no real differences to the weekend. One particular expat tradition is brunch, but it’s not like any other brunch you’ve been to. Taking place on Friday afternoon (the weekend in the United Arab Emirates runs from Friday to Saturday), an enormous buffet of 5 star food is available to you for a fixed charge. There is everything to indulge in... lobster, oysters and steaks to macaroons, truffles and cocktails. Champagne will be popping and you’ll leave feeling the fullest you ever have, before heading to an after party to dance the night away.
3. It Can Get Stressful
Although Dubai is the most progressive of the UAE, things are inevitably very different here, which often leads newcomers to stress and depression. Being so far away from home can be difficult, especially if you’ve never lived away from your friends or family in the past and getting accustomed to this new culture can take a while. The key is to be thankful for the opportunity to experience something so different and make making friends your priority as soon as you get there.
4. It’s More Than Just a Desert
With only five days of rain per year, you’d probably think that relocating to Dubai would mean moving to a plain desert, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, there are many parks you can enjoy all around the city, while outside the city you can also see mountains.
5. It Never Gets Boring
One of the advantages for the expats is that life in Dubai never gets boring. There’s always something happening, and as the city caters to the rich, all of the events going on are bound to leave you in awe. Bear in mind that this is also home to the biggest mall in the world which features literally thousands of restaurants and shops.
6. Being Late Is Customary
This can be one of the most frustrating aspects of working in Dubai as it’s generally the rule in Western countries to be punctual for business functions. Here things are different as people are late everywhere and that’s not only accepted, but it’s also expected, especially in professional environments.
7. The High Cost of Living Is Matched by High Salaries
Unlike cities like London that are unreasonably expensive and make living there impossible, Dubai salaries match the, admittedly, high cost of living. Therefore, you’ll be able to live more than comfortably throughout your stay.
8. Ramadan Is Observed and It Will Affect You
As Dubai is a Muslim country, Ramadan, the biggest Muslim religious holiday, is observed. The Ramadan is a month long, and during this time people must abstain from drinking and eating during the day. As Ramadan is the holiest Muslim holiday it also affects businesses; office hours are often shortened, many restaurants remain closed and alcohol is not served.
9. Being Respectful of the Local Culture Is Important
Because Dubai is one of the most advanced cities in the world, it can often be easy to forget that the local culture is very different. It’s important to respect the culture throughout your time here. Bear in mind that during your first few weeks you’ll be woken up by the call to prayer and that people take time off work to pray. It’s also common for people to go to work wearing the national dress.
10. It Can Get Very Hot During the Summer
If you come from a very cold and rainy country this may sound like music to your ears, but remember that you’ll never get accustomed to the hot Dubai summers. Although ac units make things better inside, it’s little things like getting out of your car (most parking spaces are underground) that will make you realise that there is such a thing as too hot.
11. Prepare for a Non-Hectic Lifestyle
One of the advantages of moving to Dubai, a huge financial centre, is that you won’t experience the type of hectic lifestyle you’d experience elsewhere. Not everyone is running, you don’t have to cram yourself up into the tube every morning, and everyone is more laid back.
12. There’s a Huge Expat Community
While this doesn’t mean that you should only make friends with expats, it can be quite reassuring to know that there’s a community that has gone through the exact same process as you and is ready to assist you with everything you might need when you first get to the country.
13. It’s a Safe Place to Live
Despite the fact that Dubai attracts many millionaires from across the world, it remains a safe place to live. In fact, nobody seems to worry about crime rates, and it’s not uncommon to see expensive cars kept running while the owners pop into a shop.
14. Driving Can Be Dangerous
One of the disadvantages of moving to Dubai is that you’ll need to deal with hazardous driving on a daily basis. Drivers tend to be erratic which inevitably leads to many traffic accidents. Of course, you can always take the metro or the bus and avoid the road rage altogether.
15. There’s No NHS
Another disadvantage of living in Dubai is that there’s no national healthcare system which means that you’ll have to get private healthcare. Luckily many companies offer it as a standard perk for their employees.
Moving to Dubai can be a wonderful career and life opportunity. But, as the culture is completely different, you may need to give yourself some time to acclimatise to the local culture slowly.
Do you think that you’d like to live and work in Dubai? Let me know in the comments section below.
This article was originally published in November 2013.