The second you land in this bright city of glitz and glamour, you’re overwhelmed by the extravagance of everything around you. As a newbie, your friends will give you a tour of the city’s most beautiful spots while suggesting neighborhoods to live in and restaurants you just have to try.
But what about the quirky tips and tricks you learn along the way?
Here are the things no one tells you when moving to Dubai:
1. You have to pay your rent an entire year in advance with one check
Wait – you’re saying you’re 27 and don’t have 100,000 AED in the bank ready to cash out? Some landlords will let you pay in multiple checks, but some may increase the price because of it.
2. Keep a jacket/sweater with you during the summer
Yes. Even though, it’s 111 F/43 C degrees outside, the AC blasts at sub-zero temperatures nationwide. You will freeze inside any mall, cinema, restaurant, etc.
3. You will from here on out be referred to as Ma’amsir
Filipinos are probably one of the most polite and adorable people I’ve ever met. They love to sing, giggle and will always address you with respect. After decades of calling people ma’am and sir, the word kind of meshed together (at least in Dubai!), and now everyone is ma’amsir.
4. Your English will deteriorate
It doesn’t matter if you were an Oxford graduate or are a descendant of Shakespeare himself. With all the different ethnicities and accents in Dubai, I give you three weeks before you enunciate every syllable, sound and letter in every word to match the accent of the person you’re speaking to.
5. Everything delivers. EVERYTHING.
Dubai spoils you, and it’s addictive. When everything from laundry to your groceries can be delivered with a single phone call to your doorstep, you technically don’t have to leave your house except to work and socialize. Even mani/pedis deliver. It’s amazing, but you may become dangerously lazy.
6. The PR industry in Dubai is run by a Lebanese mafia
Don’t be fooled, these sweet talkin’ habibis are all connected and they run the industry.
7. You will eat the best Lebanese and Indian food outside of Beirut and Mumbai
It’s incredible, well-priced, and you will become addicted to butter chicken and tabouleh.
8. Dubai is very work-oriented; it’s all about small talk and networking
You will be asked what you do before where you’re from, so always have an answer prepared.
9. You can get arrested for being drunk
Dubai is a party city, but everyone fails to mention that technically, you can’t leave the club drunk. If you’re stopped and caught, you could go to jail. Don’t do it, man.
10. You can pay almost all of your bills online or via apps
Also, there are little branches of governmental offices in the malls that can finish up your paperwork instead of going to the main offices downtown and standing in line for an hour.
11. You can hire people to run your errands
And it’s legal.
12. If you make one wrong turn or miss an exit, it will take you another 15-20 minutes just to find a U-turn and your way back
Just make sure you have a full tank of gas and look for the Burj Khalifa — as long as it’s in sight, you’re good.
13. It’s not weird to get a massage once or twice a week
They’re not that expensive and they’re everywhere.
14. You can’t grab a cab from outside the mall
You have to stand in the mall taxi line no matter how long it is. Don’t try to outsmart the system by running outside the mall to grab one, they’ll say no and tell you to get in line. Take my word for it.
15. There are fireworks ALL the time
They love fireworks and they love to celebrate in Dubai. Sometimes you don’t even know what the reason is. It’s Tuesday, you say? Fireworks on the beach!
16. Don’t get scared when you see a lion or a cheetah in the passenger seat of the car next to you
17. Don’t be surprised if Sheikh Mohamed is sitting at the table next to you at dinner, or at the local gas station picking up some candy, or if Faza3 (Sheikh Hamdan) is flying over you with a parachute or chilling on top of the Burj
Totally normal. The royal family is extremely humble.
18. Don’t get too attached to your routine
The road you live on might not exist on the way home.
19. You will see cars you never even knew existed
Probably because they were custom-made. They will be the brightest of blues, golds and oranges. Sometimes there will be diamonds, and sometimes the Sheikh’s face will be painted on the side.
20. Always be prepared to be shocked, awed, surprised, and confused
This city is ever-changing. You may find a new building that didn’t exist a month ago, or find that the highway is being elevated as you drive on it. Dubai is full of surprises, and it is one hell of a ride.