Life in the fast lane; a description which is often used for Las Vegas and which also rings true for Dubai. Two cities on opposite sides of the world with wildly different reputations. If you had a choice, which one would be right for you?
In a surprising and somewhat strange way, these two great cities are not dissimilar. Both are vibrant, colourful metropolises, rising out from nothing but desert. Las Vegas is the older of the two, but even so, is still young by comparison to most of today’s big cities.
Las Vegas really began to bloom and grow in the early 1930s after the legalisation of gambling in Nevada, while Dubai flourished after the discovery of oil in 1966.
Both Dubai and Las Vegas have a business core which stretches the length of the city. In Las Vegas, this is known as ‘The Strip’, while in Dubai it’s the 14 lane highway Sheikh Zayed Road that is the main artery of the city.
The residential areas have of course spread out to make both of these cities large urban areas. Las Vegas is the smaller of the two, with a population of around 1.3 million people. Dubai has almost double that, at 2.4 million residents.
The demographics of the cities is one of the major differences. Las Vegas has a mostly White and Hispanic population, while Dubai has a mostly Arabic and Asian (sub-continent) population. Both cities are prominent tourist destinations, so there is always an influx of people from all walks of life which adds to the melting pot of cultural diversity. Although the official language in Dubai is Arabic, English is spoken everywhere, and language barriers are seldom a problem.
Dubai has a mostly male population, featuring almost four males to every female in the city. This is largely due to the type of work available in the city, which attracts many more males than females.
The average age of the Dubai resident is very young, at merely 27 years old. In Las Vegas, the split between male and female is almost like for like, and the average age is 34 years. In this sense, the cities are again similar, it’s very much a scene tailored to fun-loving young men and women.
The Cost of Living
A major consideration when deciding on a base for your future is always the cost of living. Dubai is notoriously expensive, with high accommodation costs as well as increased spending on items such as food. School fees if you have children can seem crippling, so for many people the work package determines whether the costs are bearable.
A lot of Dubai employers provide accommodation, or at least an allowance towards the cost of accommodation, and they also contribute towards school fees for up to 3 children. You’ll have to read the proposed contract carefully, since these aspects are normally the deciding factor.
Las Vegas on the other hand can seem like much better value for money. Large 4 bedroom properties on the outskirts of the city can be snapped up in certain areas for under $200,000. To put that into perspective, the same kind of house in the Dubai suburbs would be closer to $500,000.
Household bills work out almost like-for-like between the cities. High electricity costs due to the running of air conditioning units during summer is something which features in both cities. Costs of running a car are cheaper in Dubai, but expenses such as mobile phone bills and cable TV are less in Vegas.
One of the best features of Las Vegas is the variety of shows which are on offer. With world-famous resident performers such as Britney Spears, Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez, as well as concert dates for Elton John and Santana, it doesn’t matter what time of year you’re there, something is on.
Several Cirque du Soleil shows are on every night, as are magic shows featuring stars like David Copperfield and Criss Angel. Comedy shows, Tribute shows and Psychic shows are also popular evening entertainment.
Dubai is also becoming an up-and-coming destination for performers. Stars are recognising that the large expat community do make a good audience, and that has seen an increasing number of musicians, bands and performing arts groups adding Dubai to their world tour schedules.
Although Dubai doesn’t have resident stars, and therefore doesn’t consistently offer the same shows, variety is still plentiful. Comedians, singers, stage musicals and more are now a regular occurrence. For a schedule of upcoming events in and around Dubai, visit Ticketmaster or Platinum List.
Sporting events are also becoming increasingly popular in Dubai. While Vegas is not particularly known for any of its teams or big sporting events, Dubai hosts the annual Dubai World Cup (horse-racing) as well as the ever-popular Rugby 7s tournament. Regular international cricket matches and soccer games are also attracting the crowds.
Although Las Vegas is not specifically a shopping haven, there are still several shopping centres and some good outlet malls in and around the city. Prices are reasonable, sales are good, and bargains can be found if you’re patient. After all, it makes sense to have somewhere to splash the cash if you stuck it lucky in the casino last night!
On the other hand, Dubai is considered a shopping mecca for many people, and often travellers fly in just to hit the malls. Prices are variable, electronics are normally a bargain while designer shopping will never be cheap.
Dozens of malls in the city open their doors for upwards of 12 hours a day, and shopping goes full steam ahead up until midnight. February sees the annual Dubai Shopping Festival, where sales are everywhere and competitions promise big prizes.
In the end, the choice between the cities can only be made by you. Both offer plenty of sunshine, a varied year-round entertainment scene and a rugged natural beauty around the shiny modernity of a rising city. The cost of living is always relative to your potential earnings, so only you will know which city can offer you a lifestyle where you’re truly living the dream.