The Ultimate Guide to Living in Dubai
Dubai, also nicknamed ‘The City of Gold,’ is a popular destination in the Middle East due to its man-made marvels.
Dubai is the most populous city in the Emirate of Dubai, and it is also its capital. Established as a small fishing village centuries ago- way back in the 18th century; it has grown into a cosmopolitan metropolis focusing on tourism and hospitality. It’s one of the World’s favourite tourist destinations today too!
Dubai is the dream for many ex-pats from around the World, enjoying a luxurious lifestyle of higher salary and no taxes.
Dubai is one of the World’s most contemporary and modern tourist hubs and welcomes millions of visitors each year.
The best places to stay in Dubai are divided into four quarters: near the Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Beach Residence, near the Palm Jumeirah and the Dubai Marina.
Every region of Dubai has its own unique charm and elegance that cannot be replicated anywhere else.
City of Modern Marvels
Dubai is a futuristic, multicultural city where dreams come true. It has everything from sun-kissed beaches to lavish shopping malls and thrilling nightlife. All of this makes it an exciting place for both tourists and locals alike!
Bold and impressive, ultramodern skyscrapers pierce the skyline. Various buildings stand tall in different places worldwide, including Dubai’s Burj Khalifa – standing at 830 meters, it is officially recognised as the World’s tallest building!
Other modern marvels include The Palm, a string of man-made islands in the shape of the tropical tree and Dubai Fountain, a fantastic water feature that pulses with music and lights.
Dubai Marina is a man-made marina featuring fascinating landscapes and incredible skyscrapers. Hop on a yacht at the Dubai Marina Yacht Club and experience the shores of Dubai.
Off the beaten track
The touristy, glamorous aspects of Dubai are not all there is to the city. The traditional quarter has a lot to offer as well. The Dubai Museum also hosts many shops selling different goods from various parts of the World; finally, you can enjoy an Abra ride for just 1 Dirham!
Al Fahidi district is one of the historic neighbourhoods in Dubai, UAE. This neighbourhood features a sneak peek at the ruminant past of Dubai before it became known as an oil-rich city. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre conducts heritage tours to Cultural Understanding to learn more about Arab culture and history. These centres guide people who want to know more about Dubai’s rich cultural heritage and history.
Dubai Facts and Figures
Dubai is located in the UAE, on the Persian Gulf coast, about 16 meters or 52 feet above sea level.
The Emirate of Dubai borders Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast, and the Sultanate of Oman southeast. Hatta, a minor exclave within Dubai Emirattee confines (in other words, it’s surrounded by Oman), has three sides that are bounded by Oman too.
The Persian Gulf borders the western coast of the United Arab Emirates. With Dubai at 25ºN 55ºE, it covers an area of 1,588 sq mi (4,110 km2) and has been expanded through land reclamation to its current size.
Dubai lies directly within the Arabian Desert, but its topography is different from other regions in the UAE. Dubai features sandy desert patterns and gravel deserts, whereas much of the southern region of UAE consists mainly of gravel deserts.
Ex-pats account for around 85% of the population, with 100,000 Brits making up the largest Western enclave.
Most of the ex-pats come from India and the Asia Pacific.
Most people live in Dubai City, scattering over the rest of the Emirate, stretching over 1588 square miles of desert.
Tourism plays a significant part in the Dubai economy. The city ranks as the fourth busiest globally, with visitors rising by about 10% every year.
Surprisingly, oil and gas generate just 5% of Dubai’s GDP. Travel and trade are the country’s big earners, with the airport acting as a hub between the Asia Pacific and the west.
Cost Of Living
The cost of living depends on where you live and your lifestyle options. Rent prices are higher in some of the city’s most popular areas, but there are other alternatives if you want to spend less money. Dubai’s tax-free living makes it one of the best places to live in today’s World because people can save a lot by not paying taxes on their salaries or any goods they purchase from restaurants or food stores.
What languages do they speak?
Arabic is the official language; road signs and boards are written in English and Arabic; however, government offices are conducted primarily in Arabic.
English is the most widely spoken language in Dubai, despite being an Arabic country. The city has a lot of ex-pats living there who have mixed cultures and languages all around them! Many people speak their native languages of English and Arabic.
How safe is Dubai?
Dubai is a safe city and has some of the lowest crime rates. According to The Economist’s Security Index, it ranks as one of the safest cities in the World.
Where to Stay
Dubai has various districts and neighbourhoods, so you choose to stay depending on personal preference. Although most areas in Dubai can be accessed within thirty minutes (traffic permitting), wherever you decide to stay will still have convenient access.
Dubai is home to more than just a few of the World’s most beautiful hotels. Some include the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Roda Boutique Villas, Shangri-La Hotel, JA Ocean View Hotel, The H Dubai, and Rixos The Palm Dubai. This list will continue on and on until it becomes infinite in length!
Dubai Marina features hundreds of high-rise towers located within walking distance from the beach. Jumeirah Beach Residence is a popular neighbourhood for residents and tourists alike with its numerous shops, restaurants, cafes and nightspots close to one another. The area also offers many hotel options and vacation apartments that are arguably some of the best in Dubai. Visit at your leisure!
The Palm Jumeirah is a popular tourist destination that has earned international recognition for its glamour, and it’s made headlines around the World before, during, and after its construction.
Jumeirah Beach Residence & the Kite Beach
Palm Jumeirah is oozing with luxury and elegance from each side; Jebel Ali is often considered the epitome of luxury in this Emirate.
This place is never short of active people and events. The Kite Beach is one of the favourite spots for water sports and other adventures.
Luxurious hotels are spread across the Palm, and it is one of the few places where villas come with private beaches.
Jumeirah is one of Dubai’s original districts and remains one of the most desirable. It stretches for miles along the coast and features five-star resorts, private and public beaches, shopping malls, and commercial and residential buildings. A waterpark also occupies this district alongside Jumeirah Beach Hotel, which ranks among the World’s best hotels.
A tourist might find the most excitement in Downtown Dubai. The World’s Tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa, is located here among many other attractions, which make it appealing to visitors.
Al Seef/Al Fahidi:
Al Seef and Al Fahidi are the best places to be if you want to explore Old Dubai. This area is bustling with traditional architecture, winding streets full of life, courtyards, and incredible wind towers. You’ll feel like you’re in a different world!
Besides the malls and restaurants, there are plenty of cultural centres and museums in the area. And like anywhere else in Dubai, you can choose from a variety of hotels or accommodation options.
Shopping In Dubai
Dubai is a shopping mecca, home to dozens of large malls and renowned for its luxurious architecture and lively nightlife scene.
You can find high street brands side-by-side in shiny air-conditioned malls while old school souks still look like mock historic markets on display inside the Dubai Museum.
The Dubai Mall
This is the place where designer boutiques of Dubai are concentrated. It’s next to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, as well as an Olympic-sized ice rink. The Burj Khalifa is also just a few steps away from this location!
With over 1,300 shops of all types, including anchor department stores Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale’s, finding your next favourite shoe shouldn’t be too difficult. Walking through the million-square-foot retail space will also get you a workout! To make it easier on yourself when looking for shoes at Dubai Mall, just download the app and pack comfortable shoes or buy a pair in-store.
Visiting Dubai and not visiting Wafi City would be a big mistake! This shopping mall is modelled after Ancient Egypt, with hieroglyphics everywhere. The light show at 9:30 pm nightly was incredible and the other stores like restaurants, supermarkets and even a souk. If you’re looking for some home décor pieces or furniture, then head over to Petals Home Interiors Boutique- it’s highly recommended!
Mall of the Emirates
The Mall of the Emirates is a self-styled shopping destination with 520 brands, including big names like Harvey Nichols and more high street-focused British brands. This mall also has a Sheraton hotel and Kempinski hotel if you’re too tired to shop after visiting.
The Dubai shopping experience is not limited to designer brands and expensive jewellery housed in modern malls.
In Dubai’s world-famous Gold Souk, you can find affordable, high-quality gold and gems. In the Spice Souk, locals will care for all your spice needs like authentic local spices, herbs, teas or coffees.
Things to Do
Dubai is such a big city, and it would be impossible to include all of its popular highlights in one guide. However, here are some that you might want to check out:
The UAE has a nightlife that features something for everyone. For example, Dubai’s clubbing scene evolved from the 90s and offers more to party animals. Parties are limited to hotels with licenses that allow them to serve alcohol in their lounges, bars and clubs- but only if you know what you’re allowed! It is essential not to break any laws before heading out on your nighttime adventure, so make sure you research beforehand all of the things which may be illegal.
One of the best ways to escape Dubai and gain some peace is going out into the desert. There, rolling dunes, Arabian nature and unrivalled sunsets await you. The Dubai desert is home to a variety of resorts located in nature reserves so that you can enjoy a bit of pampering while getting up close with its wildlife.
Dubai has an extensive selection of public and private beaches. Popular spots include Kite Beach, Al Sufouh Beach, JBR beach, composed of free or nominal entrance fees. Dubai also offers private beaches clubs, while many hotels offer a day pass for visitors to the city. Alongside lazy days soaking up the sun, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. These include deep-sea fishing trips, snorkelling and scuba diving, sailboats and jet skis available for hire – with all these fun choices, it’s hard not to have a memorable experience in Dubai!
Dubai is the home to world-level sports facilities and events. Golfers can choose from championship courses, and Emirate hosts two annual European Tour events annually.
If you’re a fan, some of the best soccer teams in Asia and tickets to watch them play are very cheap. For fitness fans, you can join classes and participate in group runs. You can sign up for yoga classes too!
Horse racing is a popular sport, with races every weekend. This includes the prestigious Dubai World Cup in March. In addition to this, there are also plenty of tennis courts, and the Dubai Tennis Championships take place from February-March.
Heritage & Culture:
The city of Dubai has a modern skyline, but there are still many ways to explore its past and traditions. Visit the Dubai Museum to discover an overview of the city’s history and visit Saruq Al Hadid for a more in-depth experience., and learn about how this country came into being by visiting the Etihad Museum. Other great ways you can experience the culture in Dubai include:
- Exploring Old Town.
- Take a tour of the Heritage District.
- Taking a dhow trip on Dubai Creek.
Dubai is an exciting city with many must-visit landmarks, the most popular of which is a unique view of the city from Burj Khalifa’s observation deck. Located on the 124th floor, it offers breathtaking views of everything below. This has been named one of the top things tourists should do when visiting Dubai.
Dubai Frame, a recent addition to the Dubai skyline, and Jumeirah Mosque – often described as one of the most beautiful mosques in the World – have been popular tourist destinations for decades.
Dubai is the place to be for adrenaline addicts. If you want your heart pounding, arrange a skydiving trip over Palm Jumeirah, do a bungee jump at Gravity Zone, or racecars around Dubai Autodrome! Indoor skydiving can also provide a fantastic experience, and iFly has that covered as well. You could also strap on your skiis at Ski Dubai after exploring their indoor snow canyon, which features ninety meters of authentic Alaska-like powder.
Dubai Kid-friendly activities:
Dubai has many activities and things for children. There are three significant waterparks – Wild Wadi Aquaventure La Mer, two large aquariums at Dubai Mall Atlantis, and four great theme parks: FantaSea World (on Palm Jumeirah) or Al Ittihad Park on Sheikh Zayed Road.
Park MotionGate Bollywood Park is just one of the many places where kids can channel their energy at trampoline parks like Bounce. They also enjoy nature at Green Planet Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, which is only a part of all the fun they have in Dubai!
The Desert Safari
Your Dubai vacation would not be complete without a desert safari! Get picked up in our Land Cruiser and venture out into the desert, zip-lining across giant dunes, basking under the shining night sky. Be sure to enjoy an Arabic barbeque at a Bedouin camp while riding camels and taking in some traditional dancing.
It’s easy to create an unforgettable vacation with a combination of adventure, delicacy, and delightfulness that is perfect for making your own experience.
With a considerable ex-pat population, Dubai has an international food scene. Restaurants will be serving dishes from every cuisine: Greek, Japanese and Middle Eastern are just some of the options available.
Dubai is an eclectic mix of restaurants and dining establishments. They range from casual coffee shops to five-star restaurants. Some even offer views of the Dubai Canal, with formal fresco terraces for you to enjoy your food in peace – after a stroll along the boardwalk!
What to Eat in Dubai
There are no authentic Dubai delicacies, but you can find many dishes there that will tantalise your taste buds! Visiting Dubai gives you a chance to explore different types of restaurants and other gastronomical features.
You’ll have to try the street food on Dhifyafah Street – some of our best dishes are chicken shawarma and shish tawook.
The Bu Qtair serves delicious, local dishes that are a pure treat to savour. Our menu consists of carefully crafted flavours by chefs to meet the taste requirements of both locals and tourists.
Ravi’s is a fantastic place to savour authentic Pakistani cuisine, and some of the best dishes you should try are Haleem and Nihari.
Some of the must-try dishes at Tom & Serg are the Cubano sandwich and cold brew. The ambience is also beautiful, which adds to its popularity.
There is never a shortage of excellent dining restaurants that serve multiple cuisines from all over the World. Popular ones include Indego by Vineet, Le Petite Maison, Pierchic and many more!
What to drink in Dubai
Drinking a traditional Arabic drink is an experience that everyone should enjoy. You can try camel milk cappuccinos, Jellab and qamardeen, Karak chai, Tamar Hindi, Mint Lemonade or Laban; it doesn’t matter what you like!
Consuming alcohol in public is seen as a severe offence in this country.
Dubai has a rich Islamic heritage, which is why the consumption of alcohol is restricted to restaurants, hotels and bars or clubs owned by hotels. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun while in Dubai!
One of the things you can’t do is drink publicly; instead, head to a hotel bar. There are plenty of places with colourful mood lighting and lounge electronica designed to make you leave. Many bars have shisha as well.
Dubai has a low crime rate. You can help yourself by avoiding trouble, drinking responsibly, and never driving when you’re intoxicated.
Way Of Life
It is true that every country around the World has its differences. Each country has its own laws, values, rules, and way of life- Dubai is no exception to this. Despite a certain standard of behaviour being expected from people in Dubai, it’s not as restrictive as many people often believe.
In public, people are expected to cover up from the shoulders down. That is a sign of respect. Also, avoid swearing at strangers or making rude hand gestures towards them because this won’t be tolerated, and you could end up in trouble too!
Laws & Culture
Dubai’s cultural norms can present quite a shock for people who have lived in other parts of the world. It has laws that separate unmarried couples, ban kissing in public, and impose fines on people crossing the road at an illegal location.
If you are a resident in Dubai, you will be required to obtain medical insurance. This is done by going to the Department of Health and Medical Services for your health care. Expatriates often prefer private hospitals where English-speaking staff exists and can receive quality care without waiting time.
Healthcare System Requirement
Healthcare in Dubai is of an incredibly high standard. Medical facilities are modern and easily accessible, with even public hospitals providing good quality healthcare either for free or at a low cost. That said, many ex-pats opt to purchase private medical insurance, which guarantees you get the best care from excellent facilities in the city.
Transportation in Dubai
Subsidised fuel prices in Dubai make driving one of the most convenient modes of transport when commuting within the city. The public transportation systems in Dubai have seen many transformations over the last two decades, with modern, world-class metro lines connecting every part of town. The buses help connect users to both regions and other transit stations; they are another favourite mode for daily commuters. In addition, some new additions to public transportation include trams on Palm Jumeirah Island, and monorail lines throughout different districts at this time also exist here!
Moving To Dubai
Before you move to Dubai, make sure you’re aware of the several things that may be important.
There are many reasons why people relocate to Dubai every year, but the main reason is that it is one of the fastest-growing cities regarding economic rates and population. Not only does this city have a low crime rate and luxurious amenities for all budgets, but there’s also tax-free living on offer. You’ll never be short of something enjoyable if you choose to move here: It truly is an experience like no other!
Things You Need To Know Before Moving To Dubai
The first thing to know before moving to Dubai is that there’s a lot of research necessary for you not to be doubtful or apprehensive. With it being such an expensive process, it’s vital to consider precisely what you’re getting into – this includes understanding the way of life, cost of living and weather, as well as wrapping your head around their healthcare system and language.
Dubai Visa Requirements
There are 2 visa types in UAE
1. Short-Term Visas (Tourist or Visit Visa)
2. Long Term Visas (Residence Visa)
1. Short Term Visa’s
To get this type of visa, you have to be sponsored by a person such as a relative or an institution. They will apply for the visa with all required documents and supporting material.
This tourist visa can be used for 30 days, and its tour operating companies or hotels issue it. It cannot be renewed.
UAE airport transit visas are issued to people passing through UAE airports. They must be sponsored by an airline operating in the country and can last up to 96 hours, though visitors also need a valid ticket for their onward flight. There is no charge for this permit.
Multiple Entry Visa
If you are a businessman frequently visiting the UAE and have dealt with reputable companies, this option can be appropriate.
This multiple visa is valid for six months from the issue, but each visit must not exceed 30 days. The visitor needs to enter the UAE on a visit visa and get multiple entries visiting.
2. Long Term Visas
For those entering the UAE to live, a residence visa is required. Permanent residents are issued one-year renewable residency visas that allow their parents to receive special approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on entry UAE. If a resident stays outside the country for more than six months, their residence permit becomes invalid.
Residence by Real Estate Investment
If you want to gain your residence permit through real estate purchase in the UAE, there are a few requirements.
Before you apply for residence in the UAE, buy a property located in a freehold area. These are the only kind of properties that count when applying for residency.
The real estate investment you are interested in should not be less than AED 1 million (US$272,242). This can be under joint ownership with a spouse, or if it is through a company/group, your investment portion must still meet the criteria of being at least AED 1 million.
If the value of a property you previously purchased exceeds AED 1 million, this will not qualify as an investment for residency. The UAE only considers your initial purchase price and does not consider the current worth.
As there are no loans or payment plans available, you must pay the money in total, and you can’t use a gifted property. You will need to show that you have already made the purchase. Third, your real estate has to be habitable and complete; buying land or a property under construction won’t count towards your residence permit.
UAE Citizenship Program
10-Year UAE Residence Visa for Investors
- If you’re interested in applying for a 10-year UAE residence visa, you’ll need to invest at least AED10 million publicly.
10-Year UAE Residence Visa for Special Talents
Specialists in science and knowledge like doctors, scientists, inventors and creative people in cultural or artistic fields are eligible under these terms.
Employers must substantiate a legitimate job contract with residents who fall under these categories, all of whom will be required to occupy their position for at least five years after the authorities have approved residency. Spouses have also been included in this directive as well as children.
5-Year UAE Residence Visa for Investors
If you’d like to apply as an investor, the property investment should have a minimum gross value of AED5 million.
5-Year UAE Residence Visa for Entrepreneurs
If you’re an entrepreneur with a project that is worth AED500,000 and have been approved by an accredited business incubator in the UAE, then you might be eligible. Under this category, a six-month multi-entry visa will be granted for new entrepreneurs who can later be renewed for another six months at any time needed. You can extend your visa to your spouse or partner as well as three executives under this category if they are capable of being sponsored.