Moving the short distance from Qatar to Dubai should not pose any great problems for an expat who is already culturally adjusted to life in the Arabian Gulf. It is commonly said, when comparing Qatar to Dubai, that “Qatar is just like Dubai was a few years ago.”
That being said, the newly arrived ex-Doha Dubai expat might like to consider a few things that will make adjustment and assimilation even quicker and smoother.
To bring the car or sell it and buy new?
It really all depends on how old it is and how much you like it. Certainly the same models and similarly specified vehicles are all available in Dubai. There will obviously be some visits to various Ministries in Doha to do some paperwork on the way out and the same at the other end in Dubai to register the car as a UAE vehicle.
Neither of these processes should cause any real problems for someone who has been in the Gulf for a few years. You can read a short summary of the Doha end of the business here, and on arrival in Dubai, here’s the process. In Dubai, it’s really no different from buying a second hand car that has previously been owned and registered in another Emirate of the UAE.
The Doha link above also contains some endorsements for Qatar-based shipping companies: this writer has no connection to them and their inclusion in the link is coincidental. At least it gives the soon-to-be ex Qatari expat a range of options to gather quotes.
You also have the option, once you have done the paperwork in Qatar, of driving your car to the UAE. This, of course, entails driving into, through and out of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. You need to apply for a transit visa from the Saudi Embassy in Doha, and then you can expect quite a lengthy wait at the Qatari/KSA border.
Your vehicle and belongings will be minutely inspected for contraband items, or anything prejudicial to the security and maintenance of virtue in The Kingdom. You should talk to fellow Doha based expats who have done this to help you decide if it is worth taking this option. The usual choice is to simply have your vehicle and belongings shipped. Of course, this is not an option if you are a woman.
Once in Dubai, get a liquor license
It’s very easy to get a liquor license, and you do you not have to pay a deposit of 1000 Qatari Riyals. You do need to wait until you have your UAE/Dubai residence visa and you also need a copy of your tenancy contract. Here is what you need and how long it takes. You can do it all through your local branch of MMI or African & Eastern (the main Dubai liquor outlets).
Don’t listen to wise “old hands” who tell you it’s not necessary. It isn’t…until it is, if you get my drift. Dubai seems to be very relaxed about the purchase of alcohol, but all it takes is one unpleasant incident and if you don’t have the license, the consequences for your nice new Dubai life and your job prospects will suddenly look rather dark.
Honestly, Dubai makes it all so easy to be legitimate in the alcohol department, why on earth wouldn’t you take this very cheap form of “health and employment” insurance?
Once you’ve got your liquor license, find out about the Northern Oases.
An oasis: a place of cool and calm in the middle of a hostile desert environment; a place where the thirsty traveller can find peace of mind and slake his parched throat.
The best known of these northern oases is the Barracuda Beach Resort, on the old northern coastal highway to Ras Al Khaimah. It’s in Umm Al Quwain Emirate, next to, and back towards the beach from Dreamland Aquatic Park. You won’t find too many road signs directing you there, but it’s easily located on Maps, or Google Maps.
Another well-known northern oasis is the Ajman Marina Club, better known to locals as “The Hole In The Wall”. It recently changed location from the gulf coast side, near the Ajman Kempinski to Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Makhtoum Street, but don’t expect signs alerting you to where it actually is on this road.
If you really want to try it, you need a fellow expat who knows the location to show you the first time. No point in looking for a map or directions on the web, because as of writing this, the move has not been updated with a new map or actual address.
You could also have a look at The Umm Al Quwain Beach Hotel’s liquor outlet. It used to be my favorite, before the monumental expansions at the Barracuda. The Umm Al Quwain Beach is still in business, but I haven’t been there for many years. Here’s the website and there’s a map at the bottom of the page.
So why would you bother, when you’ve got MMI and African & Eastern in Dubai? The northern liquor outlets are cheaper: a lot cheaper. You can save hundreds of dirhams, if you’re making a large purchase and of course, with a valid liquor license, you have no worries about transporting it all home, particularly through the Emirate of Sharjah.
Just stick to your limit – yes, your license sets a limit that is linked to your income. Some of my friends have told me that their limit becomes their goal.
Pork products are freely available in Dubai
And you don’t need a license to purchase them. Yes, I know you can buy pork products at QDC in Doha, but that’s the only place. And theoretically, at least, you need to have the Qatar liquor license just to enter the premises.
In Dubai, you can buy pork products from most Spinneys, Waitrose and Choithram’s supermarkets freely. You just need to enter the “Pork Products for Non Muslims Only” sections of the supermarket, make your selections, then head for the check out.
Reputedly, the driving is better in Dubai than Doha.
I know, it’s unbelievable, but I have this on the good authority of Qatar-based friends, who tell me they prefer to drive in Dubai. So, all you ex-Qatari, neo-Dubai expats, you can look forward to fewer incidents, less road surprises and lower blood pressure on Dubai roads and highways.
Expect to mix more with locals in Dubai than Doha.
The process of Emiratisation, the turning over of more and more jobs to local Emiratis is, I’m told, a good deal more advanced than the equivalent process of Qatarisation. My personal experience is limited to Qataris employed at Hamad International Airport, floating about in their impeccable white kanduras, but not actually doing an awful lot.
In others words, Doha 2016 equals Dubai 2002. These days, in Dubai, more Emiratis are finding employment in the private sector.
You’ve got a lot more to see and do.
For a start, you can go to the Sultanate of Oman effortlessly, for a real contrast in landscape, architecture and lifestyle. But even that aside, just within the UAE, you have an awful lot more territory to explore.
The Northern Emirates, the Liwa Oasis in Abu Dhabi, the Hajar Mountains, on the border between Dubai and Oman: all these are available and are sufficiently different from Dubai to get a few “Oh wows!” from the newly arrived, but Gulf-acculturated expat.
Even in Dubai, there’s a lot more to do and see.
And I’m not just talking bars, restaurants, malls and hotels; there are so many more sports clubs, cultural groups and other happenings to keep your weekends busy and enriching. Dubai TimeOut, either the website or the actual magazine itself, will keep you abreast of what’s happening, what to do, and where to do it.
And it won’t cost any more; it may cost less.
Generally speaking, the costs of everyday items in Dubai and Doha are pretty much the same. You can make a very easy comparison, as the Qatari riyal and the UAE dirham exchange at virtually one for one. So your weekly supermarket bills, the cost of running your car and the cost of eating out should all be roughly the same.
One area where you might do better in Dubai is the cost of housing. Basically, because there is so much of it available now, rent is more affordable. Doubtless Qatar will reach this point in its growth too, but that might be several years away.