The Top 20 Reasons Not to Move to Dubai (in no particular order!)

Dabaiiiiiiii
Dabaiiiiiiii

Living in Dubai is not wonderful and glamorous, as many would have you believe.  Forget about what you’ve read, seen, and heard; those shiny buildings and manmade islands are all just smoke and mirrors.  There are so many things wrong with this place that I have decided to compile a list, a must read if you are considering a potential move to Dubai.

1. There is no standard address system making mail-to-the door delivery impossible.  In fact, it makes anything nearly impossible.  The taxi driver, here for only two days, and having learned English from old Beatles albums has no clue where your house is.  He won’t tell you that of course, he’ll just keep calling and saying, “Okay, okay.  Yeah, yeah.”  When you purchase something that requires delivery they do not have an address line, but a box where you are expected to draw a map.  Not able to draw a map?  Explain like this: I live on the street after the airport road, but before the roundabout.  Go past the mosque and make a U-turn.

2. The government blocks all web sites that it deems “offensive” to the “religious, moral, and cultural values” of the UAE.  That’s hard to swallow for a freedom loving American, but I get it.  I do not understand, however, why all VOIP access and related web sites are blocked.  I guess the government also takes offense to people inexpensively contacting their families back home.  You’re welcome to call using the analog service provided by the government-owned telephone monopoly, but it will cost you a whole lot more.  So much so, in fact, your frequency of calls will be greatly diminished if you can afford them at all.  The government says VOIP is blocked for security reasons, yet even the residents of communist China and North Korea have access to these inexpensive calls.

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.

I haven’t been to Dubai EVER 🙁

450 Replies to “The Top 20 Reasons Not to Move to Dubai (in no particular order!)”

  1. I’m from India, constantly trying to escape from here to someplace else, cleaner and wealthier. But, compared to Dubai, even India is so much better. Let’s assess a comparuson based on your 20 points about Dubai.

    1- India has an efficient address system, even when you happen to live in the slums. Amazon is doing brisk business in India, because every Indian e-commerce user can be traced to a definite address. And no one tries to cheat or scam the system. There are a few challenges with pizza delivery websites, but all you have to really do is memorize the location of your nearest chain outlet, and you’re done. Apart from Domino’s and Pizza Hut, you can get home delivery for McDonald’s and KFC in Metro (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Calcutta, Chennai) and Tier-1/Tier-2 cities (Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Chandigarh). India’s postal system is fast, professional and efficient, comparable to the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Commonwealth creations.

    2- Indian government blocks a few hundred or so pornographic, escort services and online piracy/movie download websites. But everything else is untouched. Not really a free speech thing but as a result of lax enforcement of rules. Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp are big in India, unlike even neighbouring China which bans them. For such a large country, there aren’t enough independent blogs and television networks that criticize the government. That’s something India should learn from the US which has so many alternative media outlets. But, Indians are by nature, a conformist lot. Government is meant to be feared, not really held accountable to those it serves. India is a democracy in name only.

    3- Some parts of India can be exceptionally hot like Dubai, e.g. Rajasthan. But, there are lots of cool or rainy places. It even snows heavily in the Northern Himalayan cities like Shimla, Srinagar etc. India is geographically a large country, spreading all the way from the equator (Andaman islands/Laccadive islands) to Mediterranean latitudes.

    4- Lots of lush greenery in India.

    5- You will always find a Western public toilet in Indian 3 star hotels and above, large shopping malls and so forth. Most Indians don’t use toilet paper though, just like the Arabs. A water hose or something. You can buy your own toilet paper rolls at a pharmacy or the supermarket. Toilet papers are always to be found in 4 and 5 star hotels, the quality may be a bit inferior.

    6- Lots of workers are exploited in India as well, but they happen to come from interior regions. India is signatory to all international labour law conventions, but there is lack of enforcement. Government can do only as much because the people don’t demand their rights enough. Corporations in India are able to get away with things they wouldn’t elsewhere.

    7- Grocery items and public services are usually very cheap in India but anything deemed “touristy” is taxed to death. Cigarettes, alcohol and imported food products cost an arm and a leg thanks to luxury taxes. Beer in Western Europe is cheaper than major Indian cities. Imported beers and spirits are widely available but the average person can’t afford them. 3 star and above hotel accommodations in India are more expensive compared to Thailand and much of Europe. Indian tourist spots have very few cheap backpacker hostels that you find in Europe and SE Asia.

    8- Lots of CCTV cameras have mushroomed everywhere in Indian cities. I hate this constant surveillance culture.

    9- Many Indian women are beautiful and dressed sexily, and are charming. The same cannot be held true about the men. They have a dressing style from like the 70s, a shabby appearance due to an unironed shirt and a cheap pair of trousers. Many of them don’t shave regularly, and showers are optional. If an Indian man tries to keep a clean appearance and is style conscious, he will be ridiculed by other Indian men, and even Indian women, for being effeminate. There are exceptions among socially mobile upward classes.

    10- Oh yeah, Indians stare as badly as the Arabs. I get a lot of stares even as a man, so have to wear a pair of shades at all times. Even at night. I can’t imagine how bad it must be being a beautiful woman.

    I like the fact that in Western countries, people are disciplined and busy enough not to stare at you.

    11- Prostitution in India is not as common as in Thailand or Dubai. Prostitutes are really confined to certain red light districts, out of public view. They don’t solicit in middle class neighborhoods. If you were a decent kid in India, you will probably have never seen an actual prostitute with your own eyes.

    12- Cheap Indian alcohols are everywhere (they taste like motor oil, and suck !). Imported liquors (even beers) have been taxed to death. Very few decent bars in India because Indian men are shabby and don’t invest in their appearance. Who wants to drink around those ugly people ? Indian women who drink are still judged negatively.

    13- Not applicable. But, no one cares if you drink.

    14- Driving is crazy but speeding is heavily frowned.on.

    15-We have a normal weekend (Saturday and Sunday).

    16- Lots of satellite TV operators. Lots of international channels and programs. I don’t watch TV at all, so couldn’t care.

    17- Indian roads are legendary for their potholes and lack of width. Lots of traffic jams and overcongestion in Indian cities.

    18- Taxi drivers are not dangerous but they do smell. In fact, nearly all Indian men smell bad.

    19- Indians resent the rich so if you’re speeding in your BMW convertible, everyone will hate your guts. Indians are a jealous lot so if you’re rich un India, you pretend to be poor.

    20- India is becoming very environment friendly, almost all plastic is recycled. There are water conservation efforts.

  2. Dubai is fake, Dubai is racist. They love to say they are a new country and that USA treats blacks and minorities worse but that is not true. In Dubai a skilled black cannot get work, not due to competition but because of skin color, in America blacks work, one was even president and if they don’t want to work it’s because they are lazy. In Dubai they want you to be a housekeeper nothing professional, life is terrible for blacks there. I had a few American friends come and they changed tickets to leave earlier. This place is only surviving because of the money they have and US support, the God they claim to praise does not sleep and sees all the wickedness going on there. Racist vile and evil place and yes I left!

  3. I’ve been living here for 12 years now. Yes, some points ring true but poimt 13 is not true! In Qatar, yes – you can’t do ANYTHING without your sponsor’s consent! You complain about the speeding on the roads and THEN about the cameras on the roads. Which one is it now? We have many new, alternate roads which have recently been opened. You don’t have to use Sheikh Zayed toll road – Sheikh Moh’d Al Maktoum road is a great free alternative. However, when you’re from a Country where your skin colour counts against you when job hunting, we are welcomed in Dubai with open arms. The UAE has rules (for developers) to create ‘green spaces’, various new parks have also been built and are now open. Dubai Wonder Garden is but one example. We also have a Minister of Hapoiness in Dubai! YES, it gets very hot here and YES, we work very hard but we are proud to be part of the UAE, in an emirate called Dubai. (Sure you knew Dubai is NOT the Country but one of 7 Emirates, making up the UAE . You stated that you’ve never been to Dubai. Come and see for yourself, THEN write an informed report!

  4. I am in mid 20s and a local woman whats funny is that i agree with her except point 9, and the alcohol. i guess for foreigners it is a must., it amazes foreigners or people in general that there is a possibility to happiness with your life and your choices, as a religious women and a man. though you guys are known for labeling everything. Babe this is our country with all the shit that is not adding up, its not made for everyone, if u love it stay, and if you don’t go back no one forced you, don’t say shit out of anger. just like me saying….. this one is for the feminist in you lol “Kim Kardashian represents women in the united states” this will make women angry bcuz its not true. though she is pretty fine. same assumptions are being made about us. in dubai womens needs come first, and if we wanted something we can easily get it, without having to protest about feminism. I mean you have traveled to dubai maybe you should have learned some arabic you’ll find things hilarious, instead of writing about a small tantrum u had because of a bad situation u put yourself into. have a sense of humor life is not that great anyways. and keep in mind your talking about a religious country…. no offense to anyone …..

    1. Sadly all you can do is compare the worst of America to the best you can offer. I’ll take Kim K over a racist religious fraud any day.

  5. 100% Spot on! I have hated every moment since my partner and I moved here… Unless you’re closed minded and self obsessed you can see straight past it all, it’s all a lie, people are mean and rude, there’s no sense of community. They waste gallons and gallons of water a day watering all the golf courses and then have to do Cloud Seeing to ensure there’s plenty of water!

  6. everything in this article is true. Dubai was not my first choice but I heard it will be great to make money, so i am now here applying. 1 month-500 CVs and still nothing.

    there are many more negatives i can name…
    !!!
    i got robbed the second day i was here, but was advised not to report it- because i was staying at someone;s place and he was a guy-so I would have gone to jail too.
    let me add some more:

    – never get an arab boss as my friend was abused but couldnt even report it. they think they owe you and do not respect you
    -you cannot get a studio or flat for yourself unless you are a Director in your field, otherwise you share a room or flat
    -when people say they will call you back, they dont. or they dont reply to emails (about work). they are rude and unprofessional and dont care

    the only positives i know of are:
    -events, expos and festivals
    -girls nights where girls drink for free
    -the salaries are not taxed, but you cannot save that much- rent is insane

    everyone always says: Ah- you re white and canadian, just apply for managers positions. it is extremely Discriminatory

  7. You guys have no idea how they treat asians in dubai. They will use you for work and throw like a tissue paper.. being my self i am a victim of labour abuse. Modern sanctuary slavery sucks. Dubai has been build by asian worker especially from India, pakistan and bangladesh. Dubai government didn’t even built a single institute in these countries to train a skilled labour..

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