Dubai and dogs. Have you heard something such as “dogs aren’t welcome in Dubai” or that “dogs get treated badly” or that “Dubai isn’t a very dog-friendly place”? Well, given the number of people you will meet, as an expatriate, who have not just one, but multiple dogs, there seems to be something of a disconnect between the misconceptions above and the reality of dog-owning in this Middle Eastern hotspot.
Like many things, it’s cultural…
Westerners have a generally similar attitude to dogs; man’s best friend, right? And of course, this attitude is reinforced in popular media mirroring of our cultural practices and beliefs: Greyfriars Bobbie, Lassie, Tin Tin’s dog Snowy and many others. But even amongst those who like dogs, not everybody likes dogs in exactly the same way.
Now, the Italians and French are both, broadly speaking, dog-loving cultures. So indeed are the English and New Zealanders. But the latter two would be appalled to see people bringing dogs into restaurants and other places where food is prepared or on sale.
Yet that doesn’t make the English or Kiwis dog-haters: they just have a different set of cultural practices in play behind their love of dogs.
Well, so too with dogs and Dubai. Learn what’s culturally acceptable with regard to dogs and dog ownership and perceived problems will likely vanish.
The climate isn’t very dog-friendly
Two things to remember: in the summer months, the outside temperature can frequently reach 50°C and is routinely in the mid 40s on a daily basis. Secondly, a lot of expats opt to live in high-rise apartments; villas, with yards and gardens are available of course, but they tend to be a lot more expensive to rent and definitely more expensive in terms of utility costs.
Do you really want to subject your dog this, if you shift to Dubai? Yes, apartments and villas are air-conditioned, but dogs need exercise and you might find providing them with this on a regular basis more than you can cope with.
But there are plenty of dogs in Dubai
There are lots of dogs here. I’d guess that a majority of dog-owners didn’t, in fact, arrive with their pets, but acquired them here and will take them with them when they leave. You can buy pretty much every breed of dog you can think of here via pet-shops and specialised breeding centres.
In addition to this way of coming by a dog, there is also a thriving animal-rescue, adopt-a-dog network which aims to rehome the abandoned or unwanted members of Dubai’s dog population.
One such group is K9 Friends, but there are a number of others, as a quick search will bring to light. And yes, I think we can take it as read that the organizations and the people who run them, often voluntarily, are very dog-friendly.
Also dog-friendly, but perhaps for a more commercial reason, are Dubai’s numerous pet-shops. They will be very happy to supply all your dog-owning needs as well as supply specialist services, such as bathing and grooming.
And Dubai has plenty of Veterinary clinics as well, who are on-hand for emergency medical interventions as well as regular care and pet maintenance products and services.
It is necessary to have your dogs and cats chipped for identification and vaccinated yearly. Without these precautions you could be fined (unlikely, really), but it would be near impossible to take your pet with you when you leave the country.
Much has changed and, while I applaud this level of health consciousness especially when shuffling between countries, I am nostalgic for those days, now long gone, when people checked giant dogs and their cages in as part of their normal luggage.
But I hear that you can’t take your dog to all sorts of places…
That’s generally true. Dubai is probably a lot stricter than say, Italy or France, but probably no stricter than parts of the USA. Recently, a lot of dog-loving residents of Dubai’s up-market Marina area were incensed because the developers of the area had imposed a ban on dogs, even on leashes, on the waterfront promenade walks.
Other new, and desirable areas, like Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence also have dog bans in place, but at least it will be clearly sign-posted, so watch out for signs telling you if dogs are welcome or not.
One person’s problem is another’s opportunity
Dubai being the entrepreneurial melting pot that it is, you couldn’t have a large, aggrieved group like dog-owners with nowhere to exercise their dogs without someone seeing a niche to provide a service.
One such service is offered in the Al Barsha area (out behind the Mall of the Emirates). So far, this seems to be an informal arrangement, using an area of undeveloped land and at the time of writing, appears to be free, but this may change, or the land may be taken for development. You can read about it on the bringfido website.
The services offered to dog owners by DogWalk are very Dubai. We’re now moving rapidly into “if you can pay for it, we can provide it” country. But to be fair, facilities and expertise are rarely free and if the service is good, meets your needs, then why shouldn’t the providers, who’ve taken the risks and done the market research, make a living from it.
Finally, there’s this: just opened in early April. Worried about what to do with Rex, or Rover when the family jets off to cooler climes for the summer? Well, don’t be: the first paragraph says it all. You can stay in touch (online) with your canine pal 24/7 via web cams in his suite, which, in addition to being air-conditioned (of course) also boasts orthopaedic mattresses and an LCD flat screen TV. I wonder what movie dogs like the most?
Could it really get any more dog-friendly than this?