Busting the Myths About Expat Life in Dubai

Dubai skyline

Dubai no doubt exudes a vibe of exuberance, especially to outsiders, which is why expats from multiple nations have been flocking here for the last century. This makes for a diverse living experience, but for most expats here, getting from A to B doesn’t necessarily involve a ride in a Maserati.

As more and more expats alight on the sunny shores of Dubai, we thought we’d take a look at some of the most common misconceptions about the emirate, hopefully setting the record straight!

1. You Can’t Practise Any Other Religion Than Islam

While Dubai is an Islamic emirate, it welcomes people from all faiths, cultures, and backgrounds. Other religions are allowed to be practised here, and you’ll find places of worship in all parts of the UAE – from churches for the Catholics to gurdwaras for the Sikh community. Although you should beware that proselytising is not tolerated anywhere in the country.

2. There is No Nightlife

As an expat, your free time is more likely to be spent catching up on lost sleep than partying on a yacht. During the weekends, most expats would rather have a cosy catch-up over a coffee with friends and family rather than downing shots at pubs and clubs.

That’s not to say that people live a boring life here. With so many clubs around and events happening almost every night, if you want to stay out till the wee hours in the night – you can!

3. Everyone Drives a Ferrari or a Rolls-Royce

Dubai is known for having one of the highest concentrations of supercars in the world, but the reality is that not everyone can afford one. Most expats here can be seen cruising around in their pre-loved Toyotas or Nissans, or making use of the public transport – taxis are everywhere, and they are clean and reasonably priced too. If you want to escape the rush hour on the roads, there is also the Dubai Metro, which is relatively affordable and fast.

4. Drinking is Prohibited

To an extent, this is true: carrying alcohol, drinking, or being found intoxicated in public is a punishable offence in Dubai and across the emirates. However, as we mentioned above, the city has a bustling nightlife with vibrant and busy weekends where alcohol is allowed in designated premises like hotels and specified venues.

Hold your horses! That doesn’t mean anyone can just walk up to a bar and order a pint! You need to make sure you have your liquor licence, which is available to residents for AED 170 (roughly £35 or $46 USD).

5. The Lifestyle Is Restrictive

As we’re sure you could tell, life in Dubai is not as restrictive as the news and papers make it out to be. If anything, the Dubai lifestyle is the one thing you won’t hear expats complaining about!

Dubai is one of the most tolerant cities in the region and it doesn’t strictly impose a dress code on residents, but by no means are we saying that this is the Marbella of the Middle East either. A certain standard of behaviour is to be expected: always make sure you’re covered up from shoulders to knees before you walk out the door, and while you’re out and about, refrain from swearing, making rude hand gestures, picking fights, and showing PDAs.

Come and Experience Life in Dubai

Thinking of moving to Dubai? You can find more information on what lies ahead for you here. Perhaps you’re pondering the possibilities of studying in Dubai? If so, then we have a blog post to help prepare you for your uni experience abroad.

If you wish to chat to a member of the Uninest team, do get in touch!

What to Do When You’re Homesick

Everyone gets a little homesick from time to time, especially if they’re living abroad. If you start to miss home, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Read through our key advice below, and you’ll start feeling better in no time!

Get Involved in University Life

First and foremost, if you’re feeling blue about being so far away from home, try to distract yourself by keeping busy. Investing plenty of time into your studies, getting involved in as many social groups as you can, and getting to know your neighbours will help you to feel much more settled in Dubai.

Your first week is a key time to get involved in social activities. This is when university groups and societies see influxes of new members, and there will be plenty of new people living in your building, too! So make sure you push yourself out there during the first week, even if you’re feeling a little down.

Touch Base with Home (But Not Too Much!)

When you feel like you’re missing home, give your family a call or a Skype – but not too often! Touching base and catching up with your friends and relatives is important, but it shouldn’t form the basis of your life at university. Put your studies, meeting new people, and social events first. This way, you will miss home less, but keep a close connection with your loved ones back in your home country.

Get Some Home Comforts

It might sound a bit silly, but if you have certain home comforts, make sure you bring them to university with you. Whether you just want to hang a few fun pics of your friends on your wall, or you feel the urge to pack up your Bisto gravy before you fly to Dubai, make sure you do it! This way, you’ll be able to take full advantage of your home comforts whenever you need to.

Stay Healthy

Your health is the most important thing, so if you’re feeling down, make sure you talk to somebody about it. There’s no shame in speaking to a friend or a support worker at university about your feelings. They will provide you with a sounding board for your problems and will help you see things differently.

Part of staying happy and healthy at university is also making sure you have a clean, comfortable place to live. Find out more about our accommodation options so you can find your ideal “home from home” in Dubai.

Enjoy Your Time at University!

Even if you are feeling homesick, try your hardest to make sure it doesn’t take over your life and put a dampener on your time at university. Remember, you won’t be a student for long, so you need to make the most of it!

By keeping your health in check, making sure you find the right place to live, and throwing yourself into student life, you will overcome homesickness and feel better in yourself. Check out all of the amazing things you could be doing in Dubai right now!

Amazing Ways to Enjoy Christmas in Dubai

snowman on beach

Spending Christmas in the tropical desert climate of Dubai? Fear not, because there are still plenty of ways that you can get into the festive spirit – even if you’re still reaching for the SPF50 sun cream come Christmas Eve.

Visit the Dubai Winter Festival

There are a lot of things that you can expect when living in Dubai, but snow isn’t usually one of them. Thanks to some Christmas magic, Dubai’s Winter Festival makes snow in the desert more than just a mirage. Aside from snowball fights in the play area, you can also visit Santa’s grotto, learn how to make gingerbread houses, or enjoy a pantomime show – this festival really does have it all! If markets are your thing when it comes to festive fun, then you’re in luck because there are plenty of stalls for you to browse.

Take to the Slopes at Ski Dubai

Skiing in Dubai? It might sound like someone’s left us out in the sun for too long, but you really can take to the slopes at Ski Dubai. Located in the Mall of the Emirates, the indoor area has a snowpark with over 3,000 square metres of real snow. Snow and skiing not festive enough for you? Ski Dubai also houses live penguins that you can meet, or even go for a swim with!

Enjoy a Christmas Dinner at the Irish Village

Proving that the Irish have plenty more to offer besides the festive classic that is “Fairytale of New York”, the Al Garhoud Irish Village has more celebrations than you can shake a candy cane at. There will be mulled cider and homemade pies at the tree lighting, and a traditional roast with all the trimmings to countdown the 12 days of Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, you can enjoy a free night of music courtesy of DJ Marky Mark, whilst Christmas Day will bring a festive buffet where you can eat your fill of turkey and festive trimmings.

Browse the Dubai Shopping Festival Sales

It wouldn’t be Christmas without some festive shopping. But Dubai doesn’t just have a day dedicated to shopping during the festive season, it has a month-long festival! The holidays are definitely a time for going over-the-top, and the Shopping Festival ticks all of the boxes when it comes to extravagance. The highlight of the festival is the 12-hour super-sale happening on 26th December – perfect if you’ve got Boxing Day blues – and you can enjoy discounts of up to 90%.

Relax with a Festive Treatment

With all the festive fun you’ll be having, you’ll surely need some pampering. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping and skiing, treat yourself to a break at The Heavenly Spa for an afternoon of pure bliss. To help you relax during the most wonderful time of the year, the spa is offering a “Peppermint and Hot Chocolate Escape” where you can indulge in a 50-minute peppermint-infused massage (the perfect gift to yourself). After you’ve finished floating on a peppermint-scented cloud of bliss, you can cosy up in one of the relaxation rooms with a mug of homemade hot chocolate. Where do we sign up?

Rock a Dubai-Themed Christmas Jumper

Granted that Dubai isn’t ideal sweater weather, and throwing on a Christmas jumper doesn’t sound like a stellar idea – but nothing screams “festive” quite like a seasonal knitted number. Walid Claus’ range has a Dubai-themed twist because everyone needs to own a Christmas jumper, even where Santa’s sleigh is being pulled by camels. If you don’t fancy the idea of braving the Dubai heat in a jumper, you can also opt for a festive t-shirt instead.

If you’re staying with us over the festive period take a look at the top student events happening in Dubai – there are plenty of things going on, including the Beach Polo Cup in December!

5 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad

Make no mistake, studying abroad is a serious undertaking – one that will challenge you on a personal and professional level. Even the most adventurous students can feel nervous about moving overseas to study.

Perhaps you’re a really family-oriented person or maybe you’ve settled into your own little circle of friends that you can’t bear to leave behind, but here’s the thing: all that will still be there when you get back. So push your FOMO to the back of your mind and take a look at these five reasons why we think every student should try to incorporate some world travel into their university lives.

1. You Get to See the World!

If it’s not obvious enough, travelling abroad means you get to experience new things that the world has to offer. Sure, your focus when you’re there is – first and foremost – to study, but most courses will give you the weekends off so you can plan day trips to nearby towns and cities.

So if you’ve always dreamed of travelling somewhere, be it the United States or the United Arab Emirates, this is your chance! Opportunities like this are hard to come by, so seize it while it’s there – and get more souks and sunshine in your life!

2. You Can Hone Your Language Skills

One of the major draws of studying abroad is the opportunity to learn a foreign language. Whether you’re learning the language from scratch or have been studying it for years, living abroad is the key to actually becoming fluent in that language, because it provides an immersive environment for language learning.

In addition, your host university will likely offer language courses, taught by native-speaking tutors, so you will get a more formal education on top of the practice you’ll get just from living your day-to-day life.

3. You Open Doors to Career Opportunities

Many international students fall in love with their host countries so much that they decide to seek work there. If you ever find yourself in that situation, you will soon learn that a local education will be very valuable when job-hunting in that country.

On the other hand, if you wish to return home after your studies overseas, you’ll go back with a new perspective on culture, as well as language skills and a willingness to learn. All of these qualities will be very appealing to your potential employers. The opportunity to explore a foreign country and a boost to help you earn a decent graduate job can’t be bad going.

4. You Will Make Lifelong Friends

One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life. While studying abroad, you’ll be attending classes and living in close proximity with local and other international students, and the chances are that you’ll make a lifelong friend or two!

Studying abroad will allow you to really get to know your fellow students and create lasting friendships with them. You never know when these rewarding relationships may come in handy when you’re out there living your working life or when you need to pull a few strings. Just make sure you make an effort to stay in touch with them!

5. You Will Grow as a Person

As cheesy as it may sound, living abroad is really not quite the same as your average holiday. You’ll need to do your own life admin and figure everything out by yourself, and to paraphrase Destiny’s Child, “it’s not easy being independent”. It’s true, being in a new place and away from your friends and family can be tough at times, but if you’re willing to stick it out, you’ll eventually learn to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem-solve – and you’ll realise that it’s all worth it in the end.

Are You Ready for an Adventure?

If you’re up for the challenge, then you’ll be glad to hear that Dubai is an excitement-filled and education-driven city that welcomes students from all the over the world. Don’t take our word for it, check out these exciting student events that take place annually in Dubai.

If you’re thinking of studying here, why not take a look at Dubailand, our all-inclusive student residence, which will put you at the heart of the emirate and right at the doorstep of Dubai International Academic City.