The questions that I get asked most often is ‘How do I become cabin crew?’ The second most popular question is ‘How is life in the Middle East?’
Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha are a modern cities, safe, clean, 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 they were returned to me with not even 1 Dirham missing. I remember volunteering to clean the local beaches, but we all had trouble finding the garbage we were supposed to clean up. There is always somebody to assist you: packing up the groceries, pushing your shopping cart, load the car, put the gas and bring laundry to your door.
Not to mention the best thing: every single business makes home deliveries! Even McDonalds!
There is a ton of things to do and places to see.
Here are some landmarks:
and so many others…
Here are some answers for you.
‘Can I wear the same clothes I wear in my home country?’
Use decency as a rule.Do not wear revealing clothes, and stay away from midriff showing or very mini skirts. There will be a lot of starring, regardless what you wear, so you might want to avoid that by not attracting any more attention.
I found that the best way is to carry a shawl (wrap) to put round your shoulders in taxis, malls or coffee shops where the AC is set to 15oC.
‘Would 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 Gulf, 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, with English being widely spoken in offices, banks and shops.
‘Can I drive?’
Your driving license needs to be converted to a local one. This can be arranged as soon as your residence visa is done. If you don’t have a driving license already, you can enroll for classes and obtain a driving license. It will take up to 1 month, depending of how much time you have available for your driving lessons.
You will not be able to drive with the driving 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, however holding hands is fine. You can often see men holding hands on the street. It only means they are best friends 🙂
‘Can I live with my boyfriend or girlfried?’
No. You can only 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. Bear in mind though that being drunk in public is also illegal, so if you know you are an overly enthusiastic drinker, you might want to keep your habits in check.
Zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
If you want to buy your own alcohol from the liquor stores or duty free, you will need to obtain a Liquor License from the Police Department. It is fairly easy to get, and the only thing you need is 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 socialize over food.
‘Is there any night life?’
There is a vibrant night life, with numerous clubs, discos, bars, terraces, concerts and events. There is always something to do, especially in the tourist-friendly cities like Dubai.
‘Can I go to the church?’
Yes, there are Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and many other churches in all Gulf cities.
‘What can I do for fun?’
A must try is the desert safari. A full day of fun, dune driving, bedouin camp, camel riding, ATRs, music and belly-dancers and of course, amazing food.
Water sports are widely popular in the Gulf, with jet-skiing, wind-surfing and diving to name a few.
Boat rides through the numerous islands can show you the real 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 can reach up to 50oC, most people prefer to stay indoors during the day and only go outside during the evening. It is still very hot at night and extremely humid.
Cotton is your best friend, especially the white cotton clothes that will act as 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.
‘Can I make friends with the local people?’
The people from the Gulf countries are extremely hospitable, but also extremely private. It is very unlikely that you will have much contact with the local people. They are mostly working government jobs or high corporate positions.
‘How can I meet other people?’
There are numerous expat communities, groups and gatherings.
Here are a few blogs:
And a few forums:
You can also volunteer for charity events:
‘What is the cost of living?’
In Dubai and Abu Dhabi you can expect to spend at least 1000 Dirhams (approximately 200 Euro or 300 USD) on food, mobile phone, taxis and the occasional meal or drink out.
Given that your accommodation and transportation to and from work is provided by your airline, your should be able to have a very good lifestyle and increase your savings.
If you have a question that you think is relevant for everybody else, please feel free to leave it in the comments section.