Tips for Expats Relocating to Dubai

Posted On: October 24, 2011

Famous Building in Dubai (Photo by Krishna Kumar)

‘Tis that time of season when freshly relocated expatriates have more or less settled into the surroundings and situation of their newly chosen home countries. Let’s be honest – even in some of the biggest expat hubs such as Shanghai, or Moscow, and even after some time spent acclimatizing, foreigners are still quite easy to spot. Therefore, to help first timers adjust to their new lives in our countries of operations, Move One’s relocation specialists have produced a list of very useful tips for expats relocating to Dubai, one of our locaitons of operation.


Things newbie expats in Dubai need to know: Daily Culture

  • Workers will always call you sir/madam and will always respond to anything you say with “yes sir/madam”. This does not always mean they have understood your request
  • Be conservative and respectful in the way you dress. Save your beach wear for the beach and not the shopping mall
  • Work days are Sunday to Thursday
  • Heat exhaustion is common – make sure you drink plenty of water


Food / Eating Habits

  • Have breakfast/lunch at the Sheik Mohammed Center of Cultural understanding. A local Emirati will answer all your questions about the culture in Dubai
  • Friday brunch is a popular family meal offered at most hotels throughout Dubai
  • Tips are now included in all hotel/tourist restaurants. Always check your bill to make sure you are not tipping twice
  • You can only buy pork products in special areas of a few shops. Including, Spinney’s and Waitrose at Marina Mall


Religious Sensitivity

  • Friday is a religious day
  • Pray times are approximately at (depending on the sun) 4.45am, 12.25pm, 3.40pm, 6.25pm, 8.20pm, so do not be alarmed if you hear whaling/singing at these times. This is how the Muslims are called to prayer
  • The government blocks websites deemed as offensive to the religious, moral and cultural values of the UAE


Picture Taking

  • Never aim a camera at an Arab woman. Even if you are not taking a picture of her, she may be offended
  • Workers on public beaches try to take photographs of children. They do not mean to offend just ask them not to do it and they will move on



  • Alcohol is only served in restaurants within hotels or select sports clubs
  • Alcohol for your homes can only be purchased with a license.
  • Not only do you have to get your boss’s approval to obtain a liquor license, but you must also get the company’s approval to rent property, have a telephone, or get satellite TV


Tying up the loose Ends

  • Bring lots of passport photographs of all members of the family. It saves time trying to find a shop when you have so many other things to do
  • Familiarize yourself with the local A&E. There are many hospitals in Dubai, so it is good to know which one can help you in an emergency
  • There is no door to door postal system. Your will need to arrange a PO Box
  • Not all residential areas have a great internet connection


  • Parking fines and speeding tickets are sent immediately by sms or fax to the registered owner of the car
  • Cars overtake on the left and right
  • Roads can be structured interestingly, so be prepared that you might have to drive ten minutes out of the way to make a U-turn.
  • You can only pay for fuel with cash, no credit cards


Entertainment Visit Expat Echo Dubai and buy a Timeout magazine to learn what is happening in the city Buy an Entertainer guide – save money in restaurants and on entertainment

This article is contributed by Move One, Inc. Founded in 1992, Move One Inc. is a multiple award winning integrated assignment and moving management company, providing seamless international relocation, removal and logistics services across the globe. Headquartered in Dubai, UAE, Move One Inc. offers its international clientele cutting edge relocation and logistics solutions.[sic] [concluded]

The links in this blog are not paid links nor are they services patronized by Authentic Journeys. 

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