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Bad Things About Dubai

Hi, Sunil here to talk about the bad things about Dubai.

Pardon the informal term “bad”, but I once received a very candid email from someone in Taiwan looking to move to Dubai for a job as a nurse.

She wrote to me: “Sunil, I have heard so many good things, but what are some of the bad things about Dubai?”

Her question made me smile and inspired me to write this section.

Although I have written about the many negatives about Dubai throughout this website, this section will highlight a few of the negativities that I personally dislike about Dubai as well as the most commonly discussed issues amongst the masses.

Dubai is beautiful there is no doubt about that. But any glamour comes at an expense.

Every country, state, county, city and community has its own share to deal with.

Dubai has suffered its fair share (and in my opinion will continue to).

As time moves along however, some of the long standing complaints about Dubai may change for the better, but I am sure other challenges will crop up down the road as well.

Traffic, Congestion & Pollution

Dubai is not very big. But everyone and their little dog wants to move to Dubai. So what does this do? More people in a small land mass, more cars, more traffic and congestion, more pollution as a result of vehicle emissions and ongoing, never-ending construction. Whoof you can take a breath now!

Dubai attracts tourists, expats that move to work in Dubai, as well as families and friends of the expatriates who come to visit. Everyone has to be accommodated for. As of 2007, Dubai’s infrastructure was not built to handle the mass movement of expats into Dubai. Other Emirates will have the same problem when they start to develop.

I absolutely hate Dubai freeway driving. Not only are people nuts (in 2007 it was one of the world’s deadliest freeway systems), but the roads were just not set up to handle the massive traffic volumes.


One may argue this is not a bad thing about Dubai, but for the mid aged expat with a family, it is a bit awkward to explain to the kid what that lady is doing soliciting men around the corner in a short skirt and a revealing top.

Dubai is funny, censorship laws block out particular websites, porn channels and YouTube videos, but you can go down the street and pick up 3 prostitutes if you want. I can keep going on about this one.

Freedom of Speech and Journalism

Forget about it. There is no such thing. In a single man ruled “Sheikdom”, you cannot express your opinions freely like you can in an open democracy like the United States. Don’t you dare write against the Government if you are a newspaper journalist!

Cost of Living

Think Manhattan. Small land space, few housing options, but tremendous housing demand. Add to this the mass movement of highly paid expats spending like there is no tomorrow and you have a massive waive of demand that is driving prices high. Couple that with inflation and no cap rates on rental hikes (this was stopped by a law in the late 2000s) and you are looking at killer cost of living in Dubai.

Indirect Taxes

True, Dubai does not tax you on your or your company’s income. But how much will you be paying in this fee and that fee? What about the occasional this license and that license? Registrations, membership fees etc. Next thing you know you are involuntary paying taxes. That said, what you pay up as a percentage of your income is not nearly as bad as the effective tax rate in countries like USA, Canada and England.

Unwritten and Unspoken Racism

This is an interesting one. It is not apparent and won’t hit you in the face. But if you are good at observing and reading between lines you will see that Dubai (and any other Arab nation for that matter) heavily favors its locals over anyone else (and one might argue they should). This is what gets to me most of all the bad things about Dubai.

  • Cops always favor the locals

  • Your passport determines your salary and status in Dubai

  • Locals get away with anything and everything

A lot more that we can talk about for days . . .

Labor Concentration Camps

Cheap labor from India and Pakistan (maybe other poor countries as well) is imported in to Dubai. They work on all the construction projects under the scorching heat. Word is that they are malnourished, live in unacceptable conditions and are paid very little.

They are exploited as their passports are taken away by their employers. Just type “working conditions in Dubai” or “labor workers in Dubai” in Google and you will see a ton of controversial material.

The US media has also caught on and has exposed the many bad things about Dubai in several areas such as unjust labor (and other matters as well). CBS comes to mind when I think about this. Can someone implement a union system in Dubai?

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This is not a comprehensive list of bad things about Dubai at all. These are just a few highlights. You will find a ton more discussed in detail throughout our website. Just remember that moving to Dubai is a choice you have.

If you are willing to put up with the bad things about Dubai (keeping all the pros in mind) then go for it. Just take comfort in the fact that this isn’t your home and some day you will be enjoying the fruits of your labor no matter where you settle in the long run.

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