Dubai City Information Site

The Life of a Dubai Expat




Hi, Sunil here to tell you about the life of a Dubai Expat.

This discussion is much inspired by the many visitors of the Dubai Information Site who have gone to Dubai to work.

There also have been some emails expressing curiosity about what life in Dubai is like for expatriates.

So I hope to answer those questions to your satisfaction as well as give you some tips.

I can’t say “advice” because I have not been there and done that.

These tips are what I have gathered from friends, family and colleagues working in Dubai.

Dubai Expat Demographics

Most of the white collar Dubai expat population is comprised of Europeans, followed by Americans, Canadian, South Africans and Australians.

A lot of the blue collar and small business owners are from India, South Asian (i.e. Pakistanis), Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis. There are many Filiponos (Philippines) in Dubai as well.

A Typical Working Day

Expect to spend some time on the road if you don’t live near your office. You will find many expats do a quick exercise session in the morning as office hours are generally later compared to Western countries. Expect to spend 8-10 hours in the office and then meet up friends and colleagues for drinks at the happy hour nearby. Get home later, have a late dinner, shower, watch TV or go out and about your business. Hanging out in malls, bars and nightclubs is a popular activity for the younger crowd.

Accommodation

Apartments and condos are the top choice. They are more affordable, centrally located and easier to find. Dubai Apartments by far are the cheapest and the most popular housing choice in Dubai. Some expat families, particularly high paid ones, live in full size Dubai Villas.

Transportation

You will rarely see white collar working expats in public transportation. Most have their own vehicles. Buying a car in Dubai is very easy and anyone can do it. Interest rates are also very low making it easy and affordable to secure an auto loan.

Dinning

You will find most expats are always out dinning. They don’t spend their time cooking and cleaning at home although domestic help is cheap and available. Expats with families tend to do this more. Many decide to get delivery orders as food is cheap and restaurants don’t charge for delivery. There are restaurants all over Dubai and you will find food from all over the world.

Weekends

Weekends in Dubai start on Friday. Again, dining out, bars and nightclubs are popular activities. Many also enjoy barbecue as Dubai is an ideal climate for it. Many beaches and parks have grills you can use.

Many expat families catch up with groceries, shopping and phone calls over the weekend. Very rarely does anyone do housework as most expats rent and not own their homes. There is no incentive to do housework.

Dubai is also popular for water activities as well as desert activities like the safari and dune bashing. You will see some expats do this, especially when friends are in town to visit. Leisure activities like movie and sun bathing at the beach are equally as common.

Dubai Dating Scene

Life in Dubai is busy. It is no joke that employers are paying top dollar to recruit the best talent to work in Dubai. Those big dollars come with high expectations and often expats tend to work longer than average hours. That said, personal time is very scarce. The dating scene in Dubai is quite interesting however; enough that I have written a full section on it. You can read more about Dubai dating here.

Television

Most Dubai expats have international channels via satellite. I have written a full discussion on Dubai TV that I recommend you read for more on this subject.

Schooling for Children

This is the biggest concern among expat families. Like anyone else, they want to ensure their kids get the best education. Not to worry, Dubai has the best schools possible for kids. So if you have children, I recommend you read my detailed discussion on Schools in Dubai.

Women Living in Dubai

Overall your life would not change much from whatever it is now. You are not required to cover your head or body, however don’t expose too much of the later. You can go to all the facilities men do such as bars and nightclubs in Dubai. You can also work anywhere men do.

Dubai is quite modern and “liberal” relative to its neighboring Emirates. Just obey and respect local rules and laws and you will be fine. That goes for men as well. If you are an expat woman in Dubai, I highly recommend a detailed section Kish had written on life of a woman in Dubai.

Business Opportunities

Many expats migrate to Dubai for employment and don’t enjoy it after some time. They certainly enjoy the place, amenities and the quality of life it has to offer. However they are itching to do something else.

Most commonly they see how much money can be made in business so they start contemplating getting in business on their own. If you fit this category or simply want to read more I recommend reading my discussion on the many business opportunities in Dubai.


Dubai expats enjoy their overall experience in Dubai. Many extent their assignments. It is an ideal place where labor help is cheap and available, day to day responsibilities in life are easier and income is tax free. You can save a lot working a good job in Dubai.

So if you are currently a Dubai expat or going to become one, I highly recommend you read this website in detail. There is a ton of invaluable information here, a lot of which is from our own experiences in and about Dubai. We wish you well !


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