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!