It’s shiny. It’s busy. It’s expensive. It’s ostentatious. It’s ridiculous.
Dubai is everything how imagined it to be. There is gold in drinks, there are flowers on food, and there is new season Prada strutting alongside you in a mall.
Dubai is where people come to forget about winter, take a selfie with a camel on the beach and spend money they don’t have.
Whether you’re moving here for a new job, or supporting your partner so they can restart their life, either way, you’re not going to leave Dubai with the same outlook that you first came with.
To help along the first few months (similar to what I did when I last moved countries (AUS to UK)) here are tips for those about to call Dubai ‘home’:
- Don’t drink tap water, and don’t buy Evian to make up for it: Yes, I was that pretentious one from London who didn’t understand which brand of local water was trustworthy, so instead consumed very, very expensive litres of Evian for the first two months. I still have a hole in my bank account. You don’t have to be ignorant like m… ahem, moving on.
- Public transport is questionable: The public transport system in the Sahara Desert is probably more accessible than what’s available in Dubai. If you’re travelling vertically down the city, you’re fine. For a destination that’s not on either side of Sheikh Zayed Road, add another hour to your travel time. Anyone who’s been in Dubai for even five minutes will throw stones at the public transport system here. Join us, won’t you?
- Brunch is a verb, not a noun: Anywhere normal, ‘brunch’ means anything you eat between the hours of breakfast and lunch. When you’re not in the mood for cornflakes, but want a sunny side-up with smoked salmon. When you’re trying to de-bloat by 6pm, so can eat only one meal. However in Dubai, brunching is a virus that takes over the city on Fridays. It’s like happy hour got a noon start with ‘passing out’ as its end time. When you sign up for a brunch in Dubai, it’s more about the prosecco and less about the pancakes. Also part of the contract is crashing by 6pm, unless your liver is stronger than Stranger Things‘ Eleven when she uses her power and gets that nose bleed. In which case, you badass you!
- The Dubai Stone exists: KFC, Burger King and McDonald’s do free home delivery in Dubai. And you’re about to get real fat in your initial months. Face, ass, thighs, stomach, arms… all of it!
- You will not save money: You know that vision of living a tax-free life with a wardrobe better than Harvey Specter’s, and a social life better than Don Draper’s? Yeah, that’s not happening. This city will give you the money, but you’re not going to save any of it. I just ate muesli for dinner for the fourth night in a row.
- You will be hungover for the first six months: Your decreased tolerance to hangovers is about to take a wheel. Women can drink for free every night of the week in some part of town here. Be prepared to wake up on top of your duvet, with a bowl of late-night pasta hugging you, in last night’s clothes, hair stinking of cigarette smoke and cringe texts judging you on your cellphone. Oh and it’s a Tuesday morning. And you have a meeting in 20 minutes.
- Learn to accessorise before landing here: Up your shoe, watch, belt, handbag, sunglasses, scarf and jewellery game. You don’t want to compete with a 16-year-old stylish Emirati girl who has a Givenchy Antigona duffel blinged out with a Fendi monster, while you’re walking around in your Michael Kors situation from 2013.
- If you’re not a couple, your social life is doomed: Being single in this city is worse than a slap on the face. If you’re without a partner in Dubai, firstly, you’re not going to find one here (trust me, I tried!), and secondly your conversations will revolve around loved-up assholes telling you: “awww, you’ll find someone when it’s the right time”. Dubai’s social structure (especially among the expat community) is thriving with lovers. If you have a plus one in life, other couples will invite you for Monopoly nights, marathon sessions of Game of Thrones, or a running club where all couples will discuss how great being a couple is and then braid each other’s hair. You might not be able to completely eradicate the overwhelming pit of loneliness, but you will soon start enjoying eating an entire block of cheese in bed. Dairy tastes better than forced small talk at a house party where everyone in a relationship is either discussing their ski trip, or telling you how they met a decade ago. Congratulations, you’re in love. So are monkeys!
- You’ll hear more “khallas”, “yalla” and “habibi” than you bargained for: And from people who still can’t pronounce GIF. These people still haven’t mastered the English lexicon, but their habibi-game is strong.
- If your eyebrows aren’t a product of a stencil, get out of here: Forcing your unibrow to break-up isn’t enough, the strips of hair above your eyes need to rival Kylie Jenner’s in this part of the world. According to every blogger ever, brows are a big deal. But in Dubai, this is escalated. You have to stencil those babies just how you stencilled that apple in primary school. You might scare the Sephora out of your reflection, but wear your art on your face and make Mrs Adams proud!
On that note… I’m outta here!