No, I’m not going to talk about higher salaries or increased disposable cash…
Those might be advantages or reasons to shift to Dubai, but I’m going to try and be a bit more philosophical here. I’ll see if I can list thirteen separate gifts – good things given or done by Dubai, to you the expatriate.
These benefits are often invisibles, but they will help you to grow and be more “internationalized” than when you first arrived.
Become more globalized
Dubai is a cultural and national melting pot. One way or another, you will be rubbing shoulders with people from all over the globe.
Like you, most are temporary residents. There is no path to citizenship – all of us will leave when we have either achieved our goals or when we are forced to leave by circumstances beyond our control.
You may never have this opportunity again, and you can use it to understand more about the commonalities that drive us all.
Dubai gives us the opportunity to mix with other cultures, and to both teach and learn.
You’ll probably find that there are as many stereotypical misconceptions about you and where you come from as perhaps you harbor about others and where they are from. By being open and engaging, you have a chance to instruct by example about your cultural cornerstones, as well as see what informs your fellow-residents’ thinking and attitudes.
It can be life changing.
Become more travelled
Dubai will allow you to travel pretty much anywhere – it’s the main air-hub for the Middle East.
Take a map and with a compass, have a look at where a flight of one hour, two hours, and up to seven hours can take you. Yes, you can do this from other countries as well, but few offer the cultural and ethnic diversity that can be found within those concentric compass circles I described above.
Short, exciting holidays are just a quick trip to either of Dubai’s International Airports away.
Dubai is safe
Dubai doesn’t have a constitution that guarantees its citizens or residents the right to own and bear arms. Curiously, violence and gun-related deaths are virtually nonexistent in Dubai – or any other of the seven Emirates that comprise the UAE, for that matter.
Nor are you very likely to mugged, accosted or have your home burgled (provided you take a few sensible precautions).
You might have your handbag stolen if you leave it in a supermarket trolley and wander off, but it is unlikely. And you don’t have to look over your shoulder anxiously as withdraw large sums of money from an ATM. I have never given it a thought until now.
Dubai is cheaper
Dubai’s red-hot economy often means that the rapid turnover of goods often trumps all other considerations.
The sales at certain times of the year (during and immediately after Ramadan, Dubai Shopping Festival, and Dubai Summer Surprises come to mind) afford a chance to really save some money on purchases you were going to make anyway.
There is an excellent Outlet Mall, and I notice it is popular with tourists as well as residents.
Food: expensive or cheap, but certainly varied
It is possible to find supermarkets that specialize in French, Italian, British, Japanese, and other Asian food. They can be expensive, but it is also possible to eat food from many different ethnic groups at a reasonable price.
You seldom see so many food styles represented in such a small space.
Dubai also attracts a lot of fresh produce from local and regional agricultural sources, which can make your weekly shopping bill smaller than if you exist solely on European, US, or Australasian imports.
The fruits from Pakistan or Iran are worth tasting, but for me, the citrus fruit from Morocco is the draw card.
Dubai offers many work opportunities
Again, because Dubai’s economy has expanded so rapidly in the last fifteen years, there are all manner of opportunities in all economic sectors. A spouse or adult child who arrive unemployed can quickly find work in Dubai if they have an appropriate skillset and a go-to attitude to match.
Dubai can be a place for the whole family to develop new skills and access opportunities. I have seen this with my own young adults as they have set out to make their own way in this exciting city state.
Dubai will enhance your international experience
Your time working in Dubai should provide you with a valuable trove of experience and contacts if you plan to keep working in the same or related field when it comes time to leave.
Sadly, the use of “should” above was based on personal experience.
I know of at least one (nameless) country that too often takes the attitude that overseas work, experience, and confidence simply mean that you are out of touch and won’t be a good “fit.”
Hopefully this won’t happen to you.
I also know of people who have risen dramatically in their industries of choice through the opportunities they have had in Dubai. If you have the right attitude and a willingness to adapt, this can be a great place.
Dubai offers a chance to “spread the wealth”
If your conscience bothers you about all that untaxed money you are earning in Dubai, you can always create your own little welfare system and directly benefit people who are on much lower rungs of the Dubai economic ladder.
It’s very easy to hire domestic workers to do all the household chores that you never liked doing in the first place, or are now too busy to do.
The costs of having someone do your ironing, vacuuming, and dusting are a fraction compared to what you would be required to pay in Europe, North America, or Australasia.
When you factor in how many minutes you have to work to generate the UAE dirhams to pay the person who is doing the above tasks for you, you’ll get what I mean.
Domestic workers who are trustworthy and do their work well are worth their weight in gold. You can help them achieve their milestones by paying above average hourly or weekly wages, and add in a few bonus payments before you jet off for the summer, at Christmas, and so on.
Chances are, you’ll see where your extra charitable donations are going and hear directly about the differences they are making to a family’s life in some other part of the globe.
Dubai is never really cold
Funny how you acclimatize to conditions far more extreme than you had ever imagined, unless you are relocating to Dubai from above the Arctic Circle.
Yes, it gets appallingly, Death Valley type hot during the summer months, but you’ll quickly learn how to cope.
Conversely, the winter months – and Dubai does have a winter – are very pleasant to those of us who have come from northern and southern temperate zones. I wonder how many Dubai winters it will take before you begin to shiver when the temperature drops to 18°C?
You might even get a chance to camp in the deep desert in the winter and experience the beauty, as well as the surprising chill that night brings.
Dubai lets you celebrate not only your own special times, but everyone else’s too
Christmas, Easter, both Eids, Diwali, and a few other slightly more obscure ones, if you really try.
Dubai is a tolerant and multicultural environment. Cultivate friendships with other national groups and you will be most likely be invited to join in at celebration time. Don’t forget to reciprocate, but be mindful that your Muslim guests may have differing attitudes to alcohol being served.
Some don’t mind, but don’t participate themselves, of course. Others may find it offensive having it on offer. Best check beforehand and warn guests if serving alcoholic drinks is part of your celebrations.
Dubai lets you practice your own religion openly
There is a place referred to as the church souk. This is an area set aside for Christian worship. It is possible to find that you are sharing your house of worship in ways you had never imagined before, but this too is a gift from Dubai.
It is another experience to imbibe and grow through.
Dubai and the rest of the UAE are tolerant and welcoming to other religions, but just remember that tolerance doesn’t extend to trying to convert Muslims to whatever creed you follow. That you must not attempt.
Petrol in Dubai will be a lot cheaper than you are used to
…Unless you are relocating to Dubai from Saudi Arabia that is, where the petrol price is heavily subsidized. Prices in Dubai have been up and down since August 2015.
Recently, I was paying AED 1.68 a litre. That’s $US 0.46, or about $1.75 a gallon.
Compared with what I pay in my other European home, the Dubai price is more than three times cheaper.
English is very much the second language of Dubai
You needn’t worry about having to learn other languages, Arabic in particular. But don’t let me put you off doing so – knowing at least some Arabic is the correct and polite thing to do, and if you want to learn more, there are plenty of classes – many of them free – where you can do so.
There are plenty of diverse benefits of living in Dubai, and thankfully, they are not all about money!