Living in Dubai: things to know

Living in Dubai

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If living in Dubai has ever crossed your mind or you’re just curious about how people live in the United Arab Emirates, don’t miss the following interview.

An Argentinian living in Dubai

  • Basic information: My name is Jazmin, I’m 31 years old and I’m a flight attendant. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Where do you actually live? I live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
  • How long have you been living in Dubai? 7 years.

Why did you move to this country?

It was a mix of coincidence and luck. A friend came first to Dubai to work in a hotel and they were still looking for staff for a new Latin-American restaurant. I was a travel agent at that time in Buenos Aires and my company was about to close. My friend referred me, I had an interview through Skype and one month later I was in Dubai. This was seven years ago. I always wanted to work as a flight attendant and it was difficult to get that job in my country, so I saw this opportunity as a chance to get more interviews with the Middle East airlines. After six months working in the hotel I got a job in the aviation industry.

Procedures for working and living in Dubai

What were the procedures you had to follow to be able to live there? Did you need a visa?

At that time, Argentinians needed a tourist visa (we don’t need it anymore). The employer gave me a tourist visa to enter the country and once I arrived, they processed my resident visa, Emirates ID and health insurance. Some companies also provide accommodation and transportation for the employees (that was my case), but others, like my current airline, provide a housing and transportation allowance so you can choose where you want (and you can afford to live).

Also, if you want to change jobs before finishing your contract, the employer will charge a penalty which includes: the plane ticket to bring you to the UAE if you were not already there, visa and ID charges, training etc).

Is English enough to live and work in Dubai?

As only 19% of the population is actually Emirati, English is the main language here. At the beginning, it was difficult because even though I studied English since I was little, there are many nationalities living in Dubai, like British, South African, Australian, Indian etc. But after some months of practice, I got used to it and now I even speak Spanglish (it is almost more comfortable for me to speak in English than in Spanish) 😀

What is it like to live in Dubai?

Which cultural differences have caught your attention? 

Dubai is a very cosmopolitan city and expats are more than welcome, but at the same time it is a Muslim country and we are visitors here; as such we must adapt and respect their culture. People used to have a misconception about Dubai, sometimes they think women must be covered and are not allowed to show their bodies. That is not true, at least not for us expats. We can dress normally, of course is better to avoid too revealing outfits in public areas like malls, supermarkets etc.

Personally the main difference for me is that everything you need is inside a mall or a hotel. Big supermarkets, bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants, bars etc, almost everything is inside a shopping mall. So depending on the area you live you need to get the car to go and buy some bread for instance.

Locals are usually nice and respectful towards expats they are very used to us.

What is work like in Dubai?

What differences did you spot from any other country you’ve worked in?

It depends on the area to be honest. Unfortunately, there are no unions here (gremios/sindicatos). Shifts are usually long (12-14 hours depending on the position). Most of us we have 30 days holidays compared to Argentina where we only have two weeks. Employers provide a free ticket per year to go back to your home country and the best thing for me is being able to work with people from so many nationalities.

What is the search for a job like in the United Arab Emirates?

Which online pages do you recommend to find a job?

Dubai has changed over the last few years. Many people used to come and try their luck. But unless you have a friend or relative to support you (or many savings as Dubai is very expensive), I don’t recommend it, (especially now with Covid-19, the situation is worse). Anyway the most used online pages to look for a job are Linkedin, Bayt, GulfTalent and Dubai Careers. I also don’t recommend coming to the UAE if don’t speak English.

What’s the cost of living in Dubai?

How are the rental prices in your city: room price in shared apartment or rental price of an apartment?

There are many areas in Dubai. Downtown prices are very expensive, around 2000USD per month for a one bedroom. The further you go the cheaper it is, you can also find for 400USD for a one bedroom per month. If your company doesn’t provide transportation, you will need a car as well, as public transport is almost non-existent.

Tips for living in Dubai

  • What is the quality of life like in this country and would you recommend this country to live? Living in Dubai is great, but it always depends on your expectations and the kind of job you are willing to do. It is very safe, there are many things to do,and depending on the salary it is very convenient to travel as it is an amazing hub connecting almost every place in the world.
  • Do you plan to live there for a long period? I’m not planning to move soon. I like Dubai and I love my job,which allows me to travel home often to visit friends and family.
  • Any advice for those who want to move to Dubai? To be prepared, get to know how it is to live here, learn English if you don’t already speak it, read blogs, forums, Facebook groups and prepare a great CV.

Upcoming projects

I am currently studying Law in a University in Argentina. Hopefully I will start traveling again after almost one year of Coronavirus and I am planning my first 2021 trip to Israel as both countries started flights between each other for the first time in history!

In short, if you are looking for a ground breaking experience in a city known for its luxuries and skyscrapers and you also have a job offer, don’t think twice and embark on the adventure called the UAE.

Interview conducted in January 2021 with @jazminmaggio.

Jazmin-Dubai

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