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Expat talk – what the expatriates say about living in Dubai
27 July, 2009 12:07
Dubai has a huge
expat population. While a lot of foreigners have been packing bags and heading home
in recent times, the city still plays host to people from all over the world. I
caught up with a couple of expats calling Dubai
home and here’s what they say about life in the city.
Amar Singh, a 32 year old Indian consultant weaves his way
through the dancing crowd and tells me… “I love Dubai!
Look at this place… where else can you have this kind of a lifestyle in the Middle
East?” We are in Barasti, a favourite watering hole for
Dubai’s expatriate crowd. This could have been any bar in South East
Asia… the usual 80% - 20% ratio of white men to Asian girls, loud
music and free flowing drinks. “That’s the problem with this place” says
Hitaru, a Japanese friend who’s recently moved to the city as well and
obviously not having as great a time as Amar. “This could be anywhere in the
world, everything seems so artificial. This is supposed to be a desert but it
could just as well be New York.”
A snapshot of that conversation captures the many
conflicting emotions about living in Dubai.
Every time I ask someone what they like about the city, the answer I almost
always hear is ‘The lifestyle.” So what is this lifestyle that has
attracted people from around the world? I asked my American friend Helen who’s
here with her husband to explain further. “See… it’s about enjoying life…
about dressing up, partying and being seen. I used to be the kind of person who
cut my own hair yet here I have my hairstylist on speed dial. It’s also about
shopping. I have a group of friends and we catch up every other week for lunch
and a day of shopping. And of course, there’s a maid to take care of the
cleaning. I can’t even dream of living like
that back home.” ‘Jumeirah Jane’ quips another friend as I tell him about
her lifestyle – Jumeriah is a posh part of the city where a number of women
like Helen can be found. There are so many women with luxurious lifestyles
similar to Helen that there’s even a name given to the trend!
Funnily enough, the biggest complaint I get about living in Dubai
is also ‘The lifestyle”. A German friend who previously lived in Saudi
Arabia and recently moved to Dubai
had a pretty interesting view. He and his wife preferred their stay in Saudi
Arabia than Dubai.
The reason? Since there are much fewer options to socialize in Saudi, they
managed to forge much closer friendships within the expat community. In Dubai
however, despite the fact that there are so many things to do and opportunities
for entertainment, the couple feels like they have a smaller chance of building
As for working in the city, this is one area there’s a lot
of consensus in… most of the people I spoke to enjoy working in Dubai.
It’s a multicultural environment and since the city has major ambitions,
there’s much opportunity for people who enjoy a challenge. And of course the
tax free salary doesn't hurt either. As Hitaru put it, “The work’s great, it’s
the lifestyle I need to adjust to.”
Read the article about a get-together with expats in Dubai. And see the photos.
Find more information about expat life in Dubai on Easy Expat.
The question begs to be asked... how long can someone spend partying and socialising without depth before they get bored of the shallowness of it? There is a desire for culture and substance that might not be there.
Reminds me of Las Vegas where people love to go for a while but few consider living there long term. Not that I am comparing the Las Vegas lifestyle with Dubai, but simply stating that luxurious isn't usually enough for the soul.
Really interesting topic going on here...Thanks alot for this usefull information really learnt alot from it and a good contribution by you on the web. Keep it up with good blogs like this.
Really good article - and nice to read both points of view. I was in Dubai myself and must say it is a land with many contradictions, captured well by your article.