Just a short flight away from home, there is a mirage in the desert that promises opportunities and a lifestyle like not many people enjoy. So, how can you make the most of it?
We’ve done some brainstorming and here are the top tips for living in Dubai as an Indian.
As a new arrival in the UAE, it is normal for everyone (regardless of nationality) to experience a bit of a culture shock. Settling in Dubai can take some time. There are adjustments to be made.
For example, if you are used to driving, it can be frustrating to learn that your license means nothing here. You will have to take lessons, and re-take your driving test before you are allowed to set out on Dubai’s roads.
If you are looking to set up home in an area with a strong Indian presence, then there are several options for you in Dubai. Upscale areas such as Jumeirah and Garhoud offer mostly villa-style accommodation.
While the accommodation is beginning to become somewhat dated, the benefit of these areas are that the properties boast much larger living spaces than any of the new builds. Behind the airport, Mirdiff has a combination of villas and apartments on offer.
For those on more of a budget, there is plenty of accommodation available in areas such as Deira, Karama, Satwa, and Bur Dubai.
To meet other Indians residing in Dubai, consider joining a group such as those brought together by Expat Dubai and InterNations. There are also plenty of websites set up with useful information that is updated regularly – specifically aimed at the Indian residents of Dubai. One such website is Dubai Desi.
There are also ways of getting involved in the community if you have an interest in sports, such as cricket. Dubai hosts regular cricket matches that attract large crowds, and information is readily available on forums.
For something a little less formal, have a look at the groups on Facebook.
A big part of planning for the future or preparing for marriage is investment in gold. Dubai is a wonderful place to stock up, with an enormous selection of every possible kind, design, and color of gold available.
The gold souk in Deira is a traditional marketplace where the current price of gold is displayed, yet bartering for the price (basically the manufacturing and labor costs) is common practice.
Best Indian Food
With the large Indian community in Dubai, it can be no surprise that some of the best food available in the city comes from Indian restaurants. If you’re looking for an upscale eatery, try Amala in the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel. You can book a table through the website and browse the menu online by clicking here.
For a mid-range restaurant, Asha’s is a sure win. With locations on both sides of town, (Mall of the Emirates and Wafi mall), there is no excuse not to pop in.
For a real bargain bite, head over to one of the ever-popular Ravi restaurants. Authentic Indian food is served up with no frills and no fuss. This is one place where you can eat with your hands and lick your fingers afterwards. Delicious.
Schooling in Dubai
To help your children fit in, you might want to check out some of the different schooling options based on what they are used to at home. There are plenty of schools that offer different curricula, as well as second languages – so these might be some of your considerations.
Just to give you an idea, there are over 20 Indian schools (CSSE curriculum) in Dubai. For a list and more detailed information on each of them, check out In Dubai.
Getting back to India is always an important consideration, and with Dubai as your base, it’s almost completely painless. Subscribe to newsletters for Emirates Airline, FlyDubai, and Air Arabia. They all regularly offer discounts and special sale fares to over a dozen cities in India.
Return tickets occasionally cost less than 700dhs.
It is an exciting time when you start being able to receive visitors from home. There are a few considerations to make, so planning in advance for their visit is important.
The visas for Indian nationals can take some time, and in order to be granted a visit visa, you will usually need to be a sponsor. You, as the resident, may have to take on the responsibility of arranging it, and there is a fee attached to each visa.
You can find out what your options are on the Dubai Government website.
Based on your accommodation, you may also need to plan ahead. If you are in company accommodation, you may need to notify your employer in advance or seek permission to allow guests to stay.
If you live in shared accommodation, bear in mind that cultural etiquette and customs might limit who can stay with you. For example, if you are female living with another female who is not your relative, then there may be an issue if a male friend or family member wants to stay with you.
Sending Money Home
If you are working in Dubai in order to provide for your family at home, then an important consideration is sending money home. There are multiple options, each with their own set of pros and cons.
Going to a currency exchange center such as Al Ansari Exchange or UAE Exchange means that money is quickly available at home, and there are no hidden fees.
That said, the cost of these can usually add up, and the exchange rates offered aren’t always the best available. You can sometimes negotiate the rate, especially if you are transferring a large sum of money, so it’s worth asking for a better rate and shopping around a bit.
Another option is using an online market such as Currencies Direct to do to the transfer. It takes a bit longer, and requires some back-and-forth with scanning and sending documents, but the rates are usually much better.
If time is on your side, you can place an order for a transfer when the exchange rate hits a figure you’re happy with.