5 Steps to Prepare for Your Move to Dubai

Decades ago, Dubai was nothing more than desert. Fast-forward to the present and it’s a thriving metropolis with skyscrapers on every corner. Is Dubai the new business hub of the Middle East? Without a doubt! Should you make the leap into its flourishing job market? Yes. Will it be a difficult transition? Like all big moves, it comes with its challenges, but we’ve compiled the top 5 tips to help you along your way.

Photo by Donaldytong

Photo by Donaldytong

1. How to get your visa

To obtain a Dubai visa, you need to plan ahead and adhere to the government’s restrictions throughout the process to make sure your hard work isn’t for waste. If you are not a member of the GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia & UAE) you will need a visa to live or work in Dubai. Only your family members will be able to receive a visa stamp on arrival (valid for 60 days) so be sure to start your application process months in advance. Your passport must have at least 6 months validity left and no Israeli visa. Should it have an Israeli visa or stamp, you must order a new passport. While your employment visa is being processed, avoid business trips to Dubai, as the government will then restart the application process.

2. Arrange accommodation in advance

Before moving, take an exploratory trip, or at least a virtual Google Earth tour, so you know where you would like to live and how much it will cost. The Burj Al Arab will certainly be a nice place to live in Dubai, but the price tag might be beyond your budget. Jumeirah 1 is a popular area amongst expats – near Dubai’s public beach and zoo, complete with a modern mall filled with international vendors. The Meadows is yet another wonderful and upscale location, and offers plenty of good schools in the area. Remember that where you live in Dubai will depend on the type of accommodations you want and amenities you like. You’re choosing a way of life, not just a new address.

Photo by Bgabel

Photo by Bgabel

3. Learn the customs

Although Dubai’s customs are not as strict as in the UAE’s other regions, it still remains an Arab emirate. Therefore some rules are more lenient, yet many strict rulings remain prevalent. Women can wear bikinis on the beach, however it is still frowned upon. Similarly, women shouldn’t shake hands with men and men should not ask Arab men about their wives or daughters. Walking your dog in public places at times is prohibited as well. Be aware of your colleagues’ actions, and when in doubt, ask before proceeding.

4. Know what to pack and what to leave behind

Make sure before you leave that you have an unlocked cell phone to call for a cab or shuttle when you arrive, as payphones are sparse and most communication is done via modern smartphones. You can buy the appropriate SIM card for your phone while still inside Dubai’s airport.

White goods from the US or Canada are not compatible with Dubai’s voltage supply so buy a converter or transformer. Other immigrants, be it from Europe, South Africa, or Australia, won’t face this problem. In addition, be aware that Dubai favors British brands over American counterparts –if you favor an American brand, bring it from home.

Alcohol, religious figurines, political magazines, and items made in or endorsed by Israel –among other things – are not permitted and will be confiscated. But for the everyday basics, head to one of Dubai’s international shops and sprawling shopping malls stocked with name-brand clothing, electronics, and cosmetic goods.

Photo by Samir Kilachand

Photo by Samir Kilachand

5. Learn the language

Although English is highly prevalent in Dubai, the modern business world offers a multitude of reasons to learn Arabic. As the 5th most commonly spoken language in the world, Arabic is increasing its power in the world’s business, economic, and social sectors. There are 246 second-language Arabic speakers in the world. However, in the Western areas where the demand for Arabic speakers runs high, the supply runs low.

Set yourself apart and get ahead, be it professionally or personally, by learning Arabic. Contact Language Trainers to find a language course in your area, or take our free online Arabic language level test to see how good your Arabic is!

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