For most expatriates, living in Dubai is a very positive experience. Cynics might say that Dubai is just about money – and there’s more than a grain of truth in that – but there are other positives as well.
Here are fifteen reasons to love living in Dubai.
Let’s get this one out of the way first – of course Dubai is about money – and you’ll earn more and keep more here.
What other reason, apart from economic advantage, is there to uproot yourself from your own comfort zone and relocate into what is an impossibly inhospitable climatic zone for at least half of every year?
If money weren’t a very powerful motivator, only the truly adventurous would do it. Don’t feel bad about it: very few other expats do.
There is no tax on income in Dubai or the other Emirates of the UAE. What you get each month is not reduced at source by ten, twenty, thirty of forty-plus percent – whatever your homeland taxman takes in return for good governance.
Depending on how long you stay and where you hail from, you may need to make provision for a day of reckoning with the Inland Revenue Services of your home countries, eventually.
Also, you will be paid for 13 months of the year. That extra month is meant to provide a saving opportunity. Some of us return to countries unwilling or unable to provide pensions, so save for that eventuality.
Cheap Petrol for Your Cars
95 octane, regular unleaded costs (currently) AED 1.68 per litre. That’s $US 0.4574, or $US 1.73 per US gallon.
Folks from the UK or continental Europe can convert the per litre price above to their own currencies easily using XE.com, or a similar currency converter. I’m confident that you’ll reach the same conclusion – petrol, gas, benzina, essence – whatever you call it – is cheap in Dubai.
Yes, they’re cheap as well. Why? Because there’s no Sales Tax/VAT/GST/IVA or whatever phrase your country uses to describe direct consumption taxes.
Apply the following test of comparative automotive cheapness: divide the cost of a Porsche Cayenne by your annual salary. The answer is the number of years’ salary (or it might be months) needed to buy the Porsche in your home country.
Then do the same exercise with the cost of the Porsche in Dubai divided by your monthly or annual salary. I’m confident that you’ll see Dubai is a very positive place indeed to buy a Porsche.
Of course, once living in Dubai, that salary will be higher, too. So it is a win-win: cheaper cars and more money.
Cheap Domestic Help
Too busy to clean your own bathrooms, do your washing and ironing, mop your floors?
Never fear! Affordable help, either full-time/live-in, or part-time is readily available. There are a number of one-off or annual costs connected with Dubai government levies, health insurance, and agency costs if you decide to go down the full-time/live-in path.
You can read about them here.
To the casual, short-term visitor, it must seem that this is what Dubai is all about. There is rather a lot – no need to say more.
If you can make your visit in the cooler months (see section on Climate below), you need not confine yourself to the malls, and can explore the older parts of the city like Satwa, Karama, Al Fahidi Street, Deira, and the area behind Al Maktoum Street.
Here, you will see what life used to be like 15 years ago or more. It is interesting, and the food outlets are worth trying if you want to eat cheaply.
There’s always a sale on somewhere in Dubai, but certain times of the year, the sales go city-wide.
The run-up to Eid Al Fitr, in the last stages of Ramadan, is always a good time to unchain your wallets and credit cards, as is the Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, the “Festive Season” (aka Christmas), and New Year.
Free Parking in the Malls
This is a good one for the drivers, especially during the summer months. Parking is free, usually underground, and in most of the Dubai Malls, you can have your car washed for AED 25-30 while you’re in the mall shopping.
Some of the malls are now making noise about charging for parking. You have to take a ticket on entry and put it back in the slot when leaving, but there’s almost always a very generous “free” allowance – usually 4 hours – before you begin being charged.
Free or Very Cheap Valet Parking
It all depends on the place. Hotel valet parking is usually free, or at a very nominal charge, like AED 5.
Some of the bigger malls like Dubai Mall charge varying amounts – up to AED 50.
When the heat is on and you have a car full of kids or visitors, it is a good option because even the covered car parks get HOT.
No beating about the bush – the year divides into four main climatic time zones. Nice: December – February. Nice at first, then getting gradually less-so: March to the end of May. Appalling: June, July, and August. Still awful, but slowly getting back to nice: September to the end of November.
You can deal with the climatically challenging times by making use of the fully air-conditioned locations like the malls, cars and taxis, the Metro, hotels, shops, and restaurants.
Little by little, as the climatic conditions improve, you can go out for increasingly longer periods.
And surprisingly, it can be quite cool in the evenings in December and January, but February is often the coolest month. In the cool months, when the sky is clear and very blue, it is a lovely place to be.
Sports and Sporting Events
Dubai provides great access for all things to do with sailing and other water sports.
If horses are your thing, there are plenty of riding schools, and the Dubai Polo Club is a beautiful oasis. It is even relatively cheap to board or rent a horse at some stables.
Golf courses dot the area and offer choice at a price.
In addition, Dubai hosts international sporting events each year, ranging from tennis and golf to the Dubai World Cup, one of the most exciting racing events in the world.
Central Travel Hub
Dubai is really very strategically placed for the keen traveller. You can go in any direction, east or west, to a fantastic mosaic of locations that are anywhere from three to nine hours away.
The only destinations that are significantly further are the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand – so use long weekends to go to interesting places like the Maldives or Bali. It is doable.
For the entrepreneur, Dubai really is the place. If you have an idea, a market, and the get-up-and-go, Dubai is more likely to say “yes, do it!” than “maybe,” “we’ll think about it,” or an outright “no.”
There is a growing population and a demand for goods from home, goods for the high-end and low-end markets, and for something new. It is an entrepreneur’s dream.
With the addition of the free-zones, starting a business is getting easier.
Whether you are buying or renting, I’m sure you’ll be happy with the size and solidity of housing available. Even a studio apartment, the very cheapest space on the rental or ownership ladder, will surprise you with its dimensions and amenities.
This is especially true if you have come from a crowded city where space is at a premium. Dubai has plenty of desert to expand into. Check for yourself here.
Cultural Experiences & Diversity
Given that the local Emirati people comprise barely 20% of the total population of Dubai, you really will be rubbing shoulders with an extraordinary melting pot of languages, cuisine, and cultural practices.
Immerse yourself! Attune yourself to the rhythm of a traditional Emirati stick dance or marvel at the spectacle of the Dubai Police Pipe Band.
Both of these appear at various sporting events and even in shopping malls, so whatever your preoccupation, you will have ample opportunity to experience something you have never seen before.