If you are planning to move to Dubai, make sure that you have all details like salary, housing allowance, medical insurance, etc. in place with your employer. Otherwise, you could find yourself scraping for cash & not being able to live the "city of gold life style" at all.
Dubai has experienced nearly unparalleled economic growth since 2004 - more than 16%. Rents have increased by an average of 55%! Salaries have only increased by 6%...
One of the reasons for this unjust phenomenon is the fact that the UAE government is trying to "push" residents into buying freehold property; but many are sceptical (and rightly so!) due to unclear property & visa laws and extremely poor building quality.
Prices of food, clothes, petrol, water, etc. have also increased substantially: in the summer of 2005 it was been estimated that around 21% of all residents were forced to cancel their annual holidays due to rent increases.
"NO REST FOR THE GREEDY..."
By law, landlords are only allowed to increase the rent by 7% (it was 15% in 2006) per year. But they have quite happily been raising rents by 25, 40 or even 70%! Problem: this law is only applicable to the tenants, not the premises. So if the landlord wishes to "get around" the rent cap he simply evicts the current tenants, increases its price by whatever astronomical figure he sees fit & seeks new tenants.
Currently, Dubai's motto is: "If you can't afford it, get out!"
So all that's left to do is to hope & wait for the "bubble" to burst & for prices to be "corrected"... and we hope it's soon!
Check Gulf News (newspaper classifieds) to get an idea about prices.
Update 2007: The Dirham is pegged to the US Dollar, which is crashing. Now British and European expatriates are loosing even more money. Ouch!
See the below LINK for up-to-date UAE inflation news.
--> Update 2010: Since the beginning of the global economic crisis the UAE's real estate market has CRASHED. This means that rents and freehold prices have dropped by more than 50%! For most residents, this is a hugh sigh of relief as decent housing has now once more become affordable.
If you are visiting Dubai as a tourist, inform yourself about the location of your hotel: otherwise you could find that your dream-holiday in Dubai is spoilt by 24hour construction noise, turning your stay dream holiday into a nightmare.
Dubai is built around the whole "touristy thing" idea:
We have an indoor ski slope, soon the tallest building in the world, the highest this, the longest that, the biggest cake, the heaviest tree, the deepest cup, etc, etc, etc.
Dubai is geared-up and ready to furnish tourists with everything in their wildest dreams... so the entire city has turned into one massive & endless construction site.
There are currently substantial building works going on in the Jumeirah area, and 24-hour construction noise & severe traffic conjestion will affect any visitors staying in some of these resorts:
> The Sheraton Jumeirah Beach
> The Hilton Hotel
> The Oasis Beach Hotel
> Le Royal Meridien,
> The Ritz Carlton
> Le Meridien Mina Seyahi
These hotels are all affected by the developments and the marina project on the land-side and therefore travellers are advised to upgrade to sea view rooms.
Sea view rooms are not too badly affected by the building works.
From the sea, further hotels are affected:
> The Jumeirah Beach Hotel
> The Burj Al Arab
> The Mina A'Salam / Madinat Jumeirah
> The Royal Mirage
The Palm Island works are visible from most hotels in Jumeirah.
Quiet often, a day at the beach can be spoilt by grey chemical foam or floating debris being washed-up from the offshore construction sites.
Plan ahead for your holidays!
City's breaking down on a camel's back,
They just have to go 'cause they don't know wack,
And all I wanna hear is the message beep,
My dreams, they've got to kissin', because I don't get sleep, no...
- GORILLAZ, Feel Good
To say that Dubai is swarming with prostitutes would be a mild understatement. Put aside your logic that these things aren't supposed to happen in a Muslim country, and take into account the fact that the No. 1 religion in this city is money.
Anyway, if you're a single woman, don't enter a bar or club alone. Even if it's a swanky club in a well-reputed area, atleast go in with a group of friends or acquaintances you might have here. Because there's no such thing as a designated red-light area, most men here seem to think that any woman, anywhere is fair game. And there are some areas you should go out of your way to avoid, unless your definition of 'adventure tourism' is really out there! Deira Roundabout, Naif Road, Bur Dubai interiors - all no go's.
Stay sensible, stay safe. Just a few normal precautions, and your trip will be as enjoyable as you want it to be.
Many people intending to move to Dubai seem to think of it as some sort of idealistic utopia, where the money's easy and all for keeps.
News-flash. The city is just Income-Tax free. Which means you're still gonna' have to shell out exorbitant moolah for your car, loans, repayments, flight tax, etc.
This, coupled with the astronomical rent charges, are often a sobering realization for a lot of newcomers to the city. No exaggeration, rents will eat up more than half your income quite easily. And since it's a demand-driven market, unscrupulous landlords take pleasure in increasing rents by about 15% almost yearly. None of my friends & I have managed to save even a little bit of moolah while working here. You work hard, play even harder, and the money just keeps flowing away - as is the wont with most large cities. If I was even a little attached to money, I'd actually be pretty depressed about it! You have been warned.
Dubai is modern, shiny, clean and "oh-so-perfect" or so it seems. It is definitely a nightmarish place for animal lovers & people that respect wildlife.
Dubai Zoo is one example: tiny cages, no mental enrichment, untrained staff, and all of this since the 1970's. A new zoo is in the process of being built, and the municipality has assured us that it will be much better... let's hope so. The present zoo in Jumeirah is cramped, with about 1,000 species sharing just 17,500 square metres (including offices). This works out to less than 9 square metres for each animal. (see photos)
Also, Dubai now has wild-caught dolphins performing in "shows" at the Atlantic Hotel, as well as their "Dolphinarium" in Dubai Creek Park. There has been a huge public outcry against this, as keeping dolphins in small tanks, forcing them to do tricks is cruel & completely outdated 'entertainment'. Dubai claims that this will be in the interest of 'conservation & educating children'. This is not true & is already being condemned by PETA and other animal rights organisations. After I contacted them in early June 2005, PETA agreed to post an Action Alert for Dubai on their website.
A disturbing new "hobby" (amongst mainly Arab youngsters) is to throw kittens out of car windows on a busy highway & then betting on how long it will survive before being hit...
Although the UAE has signed the CITES Agreement a few years ago (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) wealthy locals still purchase smuggled exotic animals such as tiger cubs, chimpanzees, cheetahs, etc. into the country as "pets". They are often found in deplorable conditions, malnourished and chained in the heat once they are no longer "cute" or loose their novelty factor.
Don't support cruelty against animals during your holiday!
You can complain directly to the Dubai Department of Tourism (no matter where you live!)
If you have contacts to WSPA, PETA, RSPCA Int'l, Jane Goodall, Animal Planet TV, the Born Free Foundation, WWF, IFAW, etc. please help individuals like myself to spread the news about Dubai's treatment of animals & large disregard for the CITES agreement they signed years ago!
Dubai & the rest of the UAE have developed from a sleepy, picturesque sea-side settlement into an ever-expanding metropolis. Camels (or any type of wildlife) found wandering free is rare.
The "Camels Crossing"-signs look cute, like a perfect touristy souvenir. But they actually indicate a danger that is taken far too lightly.
You'll notice fences on either side, all along the desert highways. Livestock-related road accidents happen rarely. Nevertheless, be very cautious when driving through the desert or thinly populated suburbs, as the wind tends to "move" sand dunes that then cover the fences, allowing camels to simply walk across & onto the road in some places.
If you hit a camel at sufficient speed, the consequences could be fatal.
Visibility is often poor due to sand storms or extreme fog (Sept. & Oct.), so keeping your eyes fixed to the road, especially at night (when camels are mostly active) is vital!
In the late 1970s, my mother in law hit a camel on the dark highway whilst driving back home at night. The camel went up on the car's hood, came into the windscreen with its legs, kicked her friend in the passenger seat unconscious and the weight of its body peeled the roof of their Range Rover back, effectively scalping my mother in law. They were both seriously injured, the car was a complete write-off.
She lived to tell the tale, with only a faint scare on her forehead. During the investigation the owner of the (deceased) camel wanted her & her friend to pay Dhs 200,000 (US Dollar 55,000!) for "killing" his prized breeding camel. Thankfully they won the court case, but this could happen to anyone - escaping with your life and then having to pay for "damages"!
I see my "neighbourhood camels" every morning on my way to work. It brings a smile to my face, but also makes me wary of the danger. Fencing of hundreds of kilometers has reduced the incidence of camel related accidents in UAE, but even though we don't know "why the camel crossed the road", it still does occur...
Whilst swimming at the beaches of Dubai, you usually don't have much to worry about: sharks, poisonous fish, etc. can only really be found on the East Coast of the UAE (Indian Ocean). Do, however, be aware of the strong currents, which cause many people to drown in even the shallowest of waters every year, jelly fish & sea snakes.
Snorkling/Diving is not possible along the Dubai coast, due to little or no plant-life, whirled-up sand & offshore construction.
All hotel beaches & beach parks have lifeguards (they may not be Pamela Anderson, but they do a good job anyway guys!), many equipped with jet skis to reach swimmers in trouble within seconds. If the red flag is up, do not enter the water. This indicates that the waves & currents are too dangerous.
If stung by a jelly fish, rub the area with sand immediately (this acts as a natural "peeling/scrub", popping the tiny poison-blisters created by the sting and getting the painful poison out of your skin.) For larger skin areas/attacks, visit a doctor or pharmacy.
Dubai is home to at least 7 species of sea snakes, abundant in the warm, shallow Arabian Gulf. Some are the Arabian Gulf Sea Snake, Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake, Short Sea Snake & an unidentified species of the genus Hydrophis. They are generally not aggressive, but will attack if provoked. Most bites occur when beachgoers accidentally step on a snake in shallow waters or on beached snakes. But don't worry too much - "encounters of the slithering kind" are pretty rare!
Difficulty Breathing & Swallowing / Aching Muscles or Numbness / Intense Pain / Swelling of the Affected Limb.
Apply ice to the site. Do not try to suck the venom out of the wound! Do not make any cuts. Some types of venom can enter the blood stream through the gums & tongue. Remain as still as possible & limit victims movement. Call for an ambulance immediately.
Be safe & sensible, and the only grim reminder of your day at the beach may be a sunburn.
UPDATE October 2008: Another occasional hazzard at Dubai's beaches is the contamination of the water by untreated sewage (yuck!!) being pumped into the ocean... many beaches have been closed in the past due to this stinky situation. Full Story HERE: http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/08/10/05/10249875.html.
Drugs and the Middle East just don't mix. Penalties are severe and often ludicrous. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) operates a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs.
Take for example the highly publicized case of British tourist Tracy Wilkinson who spent 7 weeks in jail in Dubai in 2006 (originally a sentence of multiple years!) after codeine was found in her blood; not an illegal substance in the UK, but it is in the UAE.
In April 2007 a teenager was convicted to 4 years because he had smoked hashish even *before* coming to the UAE. Full story: http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Police_and_The_Courts/10120681.html.
February 2008: A British DJ was also convicted to 4 years due to possessing 2.16g of marijuana. Article here: http://www.gulfnews.com/articles/08/02/05/10187383.html.
Sure, everything is available here if you're really looking, but it is NOT WORTH THE RISK.
Don't do it! Don't socialise with anyone doing drugs! Don't joke about it. Check the components of your prescription medication!
LIST of all BANNED MEDICATIONS: http://www.gulfnews.com/uaessentials/residentsguide/legal_issues/10083441.htmlThe police don't listen to any kinds of excuses or explanations... you WILL go straight to jail, don't pass "Go", don't collect any money or a phone call to your embassy, because they also won't be able to help you. Finally, you will be deported: you will NEVER be allowed to enter the UAE again.
You have been warned. If you want to get high, do it somewhere far away!
EXAMPLES OF DUBAI'S "RECENT IN-JUSTICE":
Attempt murder: 3 months.
Beat up your wife: 6 months.
Molest a child: 1 year.
Drink, drive, kill: 1 year.
Slash 4 women: 2 years.
Torture your maid: 3 years.
Rape a woman: 3 years.
Smoke cannabis outside the UAE: 4 years.
July 2008: PUBLIC DECENCY LAWS in the UAE: http://www.gulfnews.com/gngalleries/galleries/10227399.html
Here's a pretty common scenario which you'll hear or read about - some poor soul being stripped off about a grand or being thrown in jail for a month for letting his/ her mouth get the better of them.
Even if you're in an expat-heavy environment, make sure that there aren't too many locals within earshot before mouthing off. Obscenity is a sin here, punishable by law, and all it takes is for some miffed off person to report you.
Also, needless to add, no giving the finger while in a car. There was this amusing incident a while back of a guy flipping the bird big-time to a car wanting to overtake him. Turns out, it was a cop driving home from work behind him!
In this uber-relaxed, perma-holiday environment, it's really easy to forget that you're actually living in a Middle Eastern country. A little respect towards the laws of the land isn't such a bad thing, really.
Yeah, we've all been there. You're with someone having a nice time, you're both kinda' tipsy, both itchin' to get back home. Pull over a cab, and start making out before the poor chap's even had the time to ask you "where to?" All good so far, right? Wrong, if the cabbie or anyone peering in happens to be from prudistan.
Next thing you know, you're explaining to a cop how and why your lips were actually trying to extract some gloss from hers. Play it safe, save it all for later - unless you want your amorous activities to extend to your cell-mates down at Bur Dubai Central. Public shows of affection are a no-no, though it's pretty much all good if you're inside most bars/ clubs.
Dubai prides itself as being "one of the safest cities in the world"... it is relatively safe, true - but it only seems that safe because the government denies the most illegal activites; for example: Prostitution.
I have nothing against prostitution, as long as it's confined to a red-light-district, as in Hamburg, Amsterdam, etc. Men go there with clear intentions.
"How can this be?" you ask. "Isn't this a Muslim country?" Yeah - well... it is, but that doesn't change the fact that this is the world's 3rd most popular sex-tourist destination (after Bangkok & Amsterdam).
"Ordinary" women are not safe on beaches or in malls, because "working girls" are not only to be found in a certain area, but all over the city.
I've lost count of the amount of times I've been approached by Arab or Asian men & asked: How much? You make friendship with me?
Bear this in mind: I have been here long enough & know what to wear - so basically nothing indecent / "haram" to give the wrong impression. But "ladies of the night" can be found everywhere (many are mostly Russian & blonde) a lot of men now think that every blonde European-looking woman is a prostitute! In certain areas you'll find Asian girls blatantly offering questionable massages on the street, and there are even large & lavish villas owned by Arabs where they keep their "not-so-traditional Harem" all year round. The situation truly is worse than any scene in the movie "Full Metal Jacket" (I love you loooong time...)
If you want more information on what to wear in respective areas or situations,
click here: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/12ef50/
Tourists have begun complaining, but so far little is being done about this issue...
So, if you're a lady & a man asks you if you are Russian: this is unfortunately a clear insult with ulterior motive.
(Sorry if you think that this tip isn't politically correct... Reality rarely is.)
Driving in the UAE is a daily adrenalin-rush: fearing for your life. This is no laughing matter - the UAE has the highest death rate on the roads per capita in the world. On average there is an accident every 2 minutes, and 1 person perishes in a road-related accident every day.
Residents' lives are ruled by the city's roads where huge volumes of traffic & poor driving etiquette can make a 20min journey into a 3 hour grid-lock nightmare.
In 10 years I've managed to "only" be involved in 2 accidents in rush-hour, when both times it was an Arab, and both times they rammed into the back of me...
The ratio of vehicles per person is 5.4 (compared to 2.1 in the UK & 1.3 in the USA) & fatalities per 100,000 vehicles are 10 times higher than in the UK, 6 times higher than in the US & 4 times higher than in Qatar.
Basically, lane-ettiquette doesn't exist: as soon as you indicate to change lanes the person behind you will make sure to close the gap so you cannot "get in his way".
The worst time is on Thursday afternoons & evenings, when many Arab & Expat youngsters fly into Dubai for a weekend of partying, racing their buddies on the way. They zig-zag inbetween cars on the highway at top-speeds. When you see them coming, it's best to just stay in your lane & keep the speed your driving at. Any attempt to get out of their way may prove fatal.
Bad fog & idiotic speeding caused a massive 6-car pile up in March 2008 with over 350 people injured!
And remember: during Ramadan people may get a bit ratty towards the end of the day due low blood sugar level or desparate for a cigarette! I NEVER drive 30min before and 30min after Iftar, because people are in a mad rush to reach home to break their fast. Every year in Ramadhan, the accident rate in Dubai shoots-up by 200%! So it's best to stay off the roads around sun set...
There's the added problem of gardeners/delivery-boys cycling without any lights on the wrong side of the road, and desparate suicidal labourers running onto the highways trying to get killed on purpose (!) so their families in Asia can benefit from the "Blood Money" that has to be paid by the driver.
Add to this many overloaded, speeding trucks loosing everything from cardboard boxes to wooden beams to blown-out truck tires - a true obstacle course!
Check this link for the danger of camel-related accidents: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/16cfbc
How bad is the driving situation in Dubai? Well, for any city to have accidents as the No.1 cause of death is a pretty mean achievement, don't you think.
Tail-bumping, signal-jumping and the most common culprit - speeding - have turned some stretches of road into valleys of death. Be especially safe when driving down Sh. Zayed Road at night - this is the time when young Arab expats in daddy's 4x4s like to do a few road tests. The Dubai Police have been trying to curb this for ages, and have gotten much stricter with miscreants of late.
And oh yes - the road rage! Traffic woes and jams lasting upto 2 hours at a time turn even mild-mannered accountants into Evil Knievel's. When's that bullet train going to get here, already?!
Sandstorms occurs mostly in the transition period from winter to summer and summer to winter. Sandstorm causes a limit visibility (driver, careful driving is recommended), because air filled with the sands. Sandstorm time is not a great time to do outdoor activity. Stay indoor is recommended. If you still want to go out, handkerchief, sun glasses and eye drop are usually helpful to protect your eyes and mouth from the sand. (You wont like sand taste in your mouth, believe me)
In several places in Dubai, paid parking is applied.
Especially in business hour, in certain locations, parking cost 1 Dirham for one hour. (It depend on how long you will park).
Get a ticket and display it on the your car dashboard.
Be careful, disobey this rule will cost you 150 to 200 Dirham.
After 9 PM and public holidays, usually parking is free.