3. It is really hot outside. Not
Florida in July hot; Hot as if you were locked in a car in Florida in July
with sufficient humidity to make it feel as though you are drowning.
Hot as in 120 degrees with nearly 100% humidity. Do not look to the
wind for relief. This is the equivalent of pointing a hairdryer on
full blast directly at your face. Pour fine moon dust-like sand over
your head as you do this and you get the picture.
4. There are too few trees, plants,
and grass – or living things aside from us crazy humans, for that matter.
Ever see a bird pant? I have. In my opinion, human beings were
not meant to live in such a place. If we were, there would be sufficient
water and shade. The only greenery around are the roadside gardens
planted by the government, who waters the hell out of them in the middle
of the day. Thanks a lot! Didn’t you say we should cut down
on our water consumption because you are unable to keep up with the demand?
I have an idea: let’s all move someplace where it’s not 120 degrees outside.
5. This country prides itself so
much on its glitz and glamour that it put a picture of its 7-star hotel
on the license plate. Yet, the public toilets in the king-of-bling Gold
Souk district are holes in the ground with no toilet paper or soap.
Hoses to rinse your nether regions, however, are provided. This results
in a mass of water on the floor that you must stand in to pee. Try
squatting without touching anything and keeping your pants from touching
anything either. Oh yeah. It’s 120 degrees in there too.
6. This country encourages businesses
to hire people from other poor countries to come here and work. They
have them sign contracts that are a decade long and then take their passports.
Even though taking passports is supposedly illegal, the government knows
it happens and does nothing to enforce the law. These poor people are promised
a certain pay, but the companies neglect to tell them they will be deducting
their cost of living from their paychecks, leaving them virtually penniless
– that is, if they choose to pay them. Companies hold back paychecks
for months at a time. When the workers strike as a result, they are
jailed. Protesting is illegal, you see (apparently this law IS enforced).
These people will never make enough
to buy a ticket home and even if they do, they do not have their passports.
They live crammed in portables with tons of others, in highly unsanitary
conditions. The kicker: they are building hotels that cost more to
stay in for one night than they will make in an entire year. Things
are so bad that a number of laborers are willing to throw themselves in
front of cars because their death would bring their family affluence in
the form of diya, blood money paid to the victim’s family as mandated
by the government.
7. Things are not cheaper here.
I’m sick of people saying that. I read the letters to the editor
page of the paper and people say to those who complain about the cost of
living rising here, “Well, it’s cheaper than your home country or you wouldn’t
be here.” The only thing cheaper here is labor.
Yes, you can have a maid – but a bag of washed lettuce will cost
you almost $10.
8. There are traffic cameras everywhere.
I consider this cheating. Where are the damn cops? I drove
around this city for weeks before I ever even saw a cop. Trust me,
they need traffic cops here. People drive like idiots. It’s perfectly
okay to turn left from the far right lane, but speeding even just a couple
of kilometers over will get you fined. These cameras are placed strategically
as you come down hills, or just as the speed limit changes. Before
you know it…BAM! Fined. Forget to pay the bill and your car
will be impounded..
9. The clothing some of these women
wear makes no sense to me. I understand that as part of your religion
you are required to dress in a particular way, but a black robe over your
jeans and turtleneck and cover your head when it is 120 degrees outside?
In the gym some women wear five layers of clothing…sweatpants and t-shits
over sweaters with headscarves. Yet the men’s clothing makes absolute
sense: white, airy, and nothing underneath but their skivvies.
10. People stare at you. I
am sick of being stared at. I’m stared at by men who have never seen
a fair-skinned blue-eyed woman before, or who have and think we are all
prostitutes so it’s okay to stare. They stare at me when I am fully
covered or with my husband, and even follow me around. It’s beyond
creepy and has brought me to tears on more than one occasion. The
staring is not limited to men, either. I’m stared at angrily by female
prostitutes who think I am running in on their territory by having a few
drinks with my husband at the bar.
11. Prostitutes? Oh hell yes,
there are prostitutes. Tons of them. So, let me get this straight,
I can’t look at a naked picture of a person on the Internet in the privacy
of my home, but it is okay to go out in public and buy a few for the night?
12. Alcohol can only be sold in hotels
and a handful of private clubs. A person must own a liquor license
to consume in the privacy of their own home. To obtain a liquor license
you must get signed approval from your boss, prove a certain level of salary
that determines how much you are allowed to buy, and then submit several
mug shots (aka passport photos) for approval. Pay the fee and the
additional 30% tax on every purchase and you may drink at home. Then
again, you can just pick up a few bottles in the airport duty free on your
way in to the country, but two is the max. Why not just drive out
to Ajman where it’s a free-for-all and load up the SUV? It’s easy
enough, but crossing the Emirates with alcohol is illegal – particularly
in the dry emirate of Sharjah, which just happens to lie between Dubai
and Ajman. Go figure.
13. Not only do you have to get your
boss’s approval to obtain a liquor license, but you must also get the company’s
approval to rent property, have a telephone, or get satellite TV.
14. Back to the craziness on the
roads: If I see one more kid standing up and waving to me out the back
window while flying down the road at 160 kph…whatever happened to seatbelts?
15. When is the weekend again?
Let me get this straight: the weekend used to be Thursday and Friday, but
no one took off all of Thursday, just a half day really. Now the
government says Friday and Saturday are the weekend, but some people only
take off Friday, others still take a half day on Thursday, but some might
just take a half day on Saturday instead. Anyway you slice it, Sundays
are workdays and little business can be accomplished Thursday through Saturday.
16. There are few satellite television
operators:. The movie channels play movies that are old and outdated.
Many of them went straight to video back in the States. Every sitcom
that failed in the US has been purchased and is played here. Old
episodes of Knight Rider are advertised like it is the coolest thing since
sliced bread. The TV commercials are repeated so often that
I am determined NOT to buy anything I see advertised on television here
just for thee principle of it. When I say repeated often, I mean
every commercial break - sometimes more than once.
17. The roads are horribly designed.
Driving ten minutes out of the way to make a U-turn is not uncommon.
People are not able to give directions most of the time (remember reason
#1), and the maps are little help because most have few road names on them,
if any. Where is interchange four? You just have to hope you
got on the freeway in the right place and start counting because they are
not numbered. Miss it and you’ll likely end up on the other side
of town before you are able to turn around and go back.
18. Taxi drivers are dangerous and
smell. Taxi drivers work very hard here to earn a living because travel
by taxi is still relatively inexpensive, even though the cost of living
is not (see reason #7). Because of this you may have a driver who
has had little sleep or the opportunity to shower for several days.
Many of these drivers have just as much difficulty finding their way around
as you do, but add to this a third-world country driving style and extreme
exhaustion and, well, remember to buckle up for safety.
19. Speeding is an Emirati sport
and Emirates Road is just an extension of the Dubai Autodrome. I
know I keep mentioning the roads, but really, much of this city’s issues
are encompassed by the erratic and irrational behavior displayed on its
streets. Visions of flashing lights on even flashier, limo-tinted
SUVs haunt me as I merge on to the highway. Local nationals are somehow
able to get the sun-protecting dark window tint denied to us lowly expats
and use it to hide their faces as they tailgate you incessantly at unbelievably
high speeds, their lights flickering on and off and horn blaring repeatedly.
It doesn’t matter that you can’t get over, or if doing so would be particularly
dangerous, they will run you off the road to get in front of you.
Don’t even think about giving someone the finger; the offense could land
you in jail. Tailgating is, unbelievably, legal.
20. Dubai is far from environmentally
friendly. Ever wonder how much damage those manmade islands are doing
to the delicate ocean ecosystem? Coral reefs, sea grasses, and oyster
beds that were once part of protected marine lands lie choked under a barrage
of dredged up sea sand. Consider the waste that occurs from erecting
buildings on top of these sand monsters and from the people that occupy
them coupled with the lack of an effective recycling program and you have
an environmental disaster on your hands. Add to this more gas guzzling
SUVs than fuel-efficient cars on the road and the need for 24-hour powerful
air-conditioning and its evident that the environment is not high on the
priority list of the UAE.
So while I’m sure there are benefits
to living in Dubai, tax breaks, multi-cultural environments, and beautiful
buildings aside, reconsider your plans to move here if any of the above
mentioned reasons strikes a chord within you. Dubai is a city caught
in an identity crisis. Struggling somewhere between its desire to
be a playground for the rich and its adherence to traditional Islamic roots,
rests a city that lacks sufficient infrastructure to support its delusions
of grandeur. Visit if you must, but leave quickly before you are
sucked into its calamitous void.
has spectacular beaches, but is not Australia. It is one of the world’s
most secure destinations, but is not Singapore. It has opulent city hotels
and superb beachside resorts but it is not Bali. It has world class shopping,
but is not Hong Kong.This is the Insiders Guide to Dubai, city of merchants,
cultural crossroads, and surprises. A Scientific Approach - Your
goal is to move to Dubai, to find a excellent employment there, to purchase
real estate and take advantage of the booming market. How do you
accomplish your dream? As in any pursuit, determination helps, but
it takes more than determination to relocate to Dubai. It takes facts. Anyone
can thrive in Dubai, the now and future playground of the rich and
famous, after getting The
Insiders Guide to Living in Dubai, UAE.