I often get asked, “How do I become a cabin crew?” The second most popular question is, “ What is it like to live in the Middle East?”
Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha are modern cities, safe, clean, and easy to get around, with great architecture and infrastructure. I feel safer here than in any other place in the world.
I lost my phone and wallet, and the person who found them returned to me with not even one coin missing. I remember volunteering to clean the local beaches, but we all had trouble finding the garbage we were supposed to clean up. Somebody will always assist you: packing the groceries, pushing your shopping cart, loading the car, putting the gas, and bringing laundry to your door.
There are many things to do and places to see.
Here are some landmarks:
Burj al Arab
Emirates Palace Hotel
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Circuit
Ferrari World Theme Park
Rectangle Al-Ghuwair Castle
Souq Waqif Bedouin Market
Museum of Islamic Art
Here are some answers to the most common questions I received from my readers.
Can I wear the same clothes I wear in my home country?
Use decency as a rule.
Do not wear revealing clothes, and avoid midriff showing or mini skirts.
I found that the best way is to carry a shawl around your shoulders in taxis, malls, or coffee shops where the AC is blasting at 15C.
Do I have to cover my hair with a scarf?
No. Covering up your hair is only compulsory in Saudi Arabia. All the other countries in the area, such as UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain, do not expect Western women to cover up their hair.
Do people speak English?
The official language spoken in the Gulf countries is Arabic. English is widely spoken in offices, banks, and shops.
Can I drive?
Your driving license needs to be converted to a local one. You can arrange this as soon as your residence visa is released. If you don’t have a driving license, you can enroll in classes and obtain a driving license. It can take up to 1 month, depending on your available time for your driving lessons.
You will not be able to drive a driver's license from your country once you have a residence permit.
Can I hold hands with my boyfriend or girlfriend?
Public display of affection such as hugging and kissing is not acceptable. Holding hands is okay.
Can I live with my partner?
You can live in the same house with members of the opposite sex that you are related to or with your spouse.
Can I drink alcohol?
Most bars and restaurants serve alcohol, and you can enjoy a drink. Being drunk in public is illegal, so be responsible.
There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
If you want to buy alcohol from liquor stores or duty-free shops, you must obtain a Liquor License from the Police Department. It is reasonably easy to get; you only need your residence permit and a standard letter from your employer.
What kind of food can I find?
Any and every imaginable kind. From the tasty, affordable Lebanese Grills to Japanese Sushi Bars, Michelin Star restaurants, or Pizza Hut. People in the Gulf love gathering together and socializing over a meal.
Is there any nightlife?
There is a vibrant nightlife, with numerous clubs, discos, bars, terraces, concerts, and events. There is always something to do, especially in tourist-friendly cities like Dubai.
Can I go to the church?
Yes, there are churches in many Gulf cities.
What can I do for fun?
A must-try is the desert safari. It is a full day of fun, dune driving, Bedouin camp, camel riding, ATRs, music and belly dancers, and fantastic food.
Water sports are a favorite in the Gulf, with jet-skiing, windsurfing, and diving, to name a few.
Boat rides through the numerous islands can show you the natural beauty of the Arabian Sea. On clear days, you can even spot dolphins.
How can I deal with the desert heat?
In the summer months, when the temperature reaches 50C, most people prefer to stay indoors during the day and only go outside during the evening. It is still scorching at night and humid.
Cotton is your best friend, especially the white cotton clothes that will act as a shield against the sun. Wear loose clothing and sandals.
Stay away from nylons, lycra, and other synthetic materials.
Wear SPF of at least 30 during the day and re-apply often.
What is the cost of living?
Depending on your lifestyle choice, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, you can expect to spend on food, mobile phone, taxis, and the occasional meal or drink out for those days when you are not on a layover.
Given that your accommodation and transportation to and from work are provided by your airline, you should be able to have a good lifestyle and increase your savings.
Living in the Middle East is an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself into a rich culture, a safe environment, and a unique space to grow as a person.