10 Things Every Resident Wishes They Knew When They First Moved To Dubai

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Imagine, fresh and new to Dubai - the land of opportunity, ready to take on this concrete jungle. 

There are some things, every resident seems to have to learn the hard way here though, so here are 10 things we wish we knew when we moved here that hopefully can help a few newbies out! 

1. Renting a flat is REALLY fast

If you have four weeks to find a place, don't bother looking now. Plenty of apartments are vacant, and real estate agents are so hungry for commissions, they want to rent them out on the spot. 

Start browsing early to get an idea of what you want, but they'll just be pushy and insistent if you go to inspect any that you aren't serious about renting within a week.

Agents be like... rent it now! 

2. District cooling is a thing

On top of your DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) bill, if you live in certain areas, your AC chiller fees are in addition to your electricity bill. 

No one tends to inform people of this charge which can be extortionate in summer months (and can add a couple thousand onto your yearly expenses), only to find out when the 'chiller' is disconnected (which results in an AED1,000 'reconnection fee'). 

Burning the money just to stop yourself burning up...

3. Your 'good name' is your first name

When asked 'what is your good name?' (a common question in these parts), don't be surprised. It's your given name, rather than your family name. 


4. Less is more in speech 

With so many nationalities here, speaking so many languages, not everyone has the fluent grasp of the English language. So it's easier with non-native speakers, to keep the adjectives to minimum and keep the language simple - particularly with taxi drivers. 

NB. say 'signal' instead of 'traffic lights'.

5. There are rules for the metro 

Which involve the ladies-only carriage (no men allowed), no chewing gum on the metro and no sleeping on the metro. All these things can result in an AED100 fine from inspectors. 

The ladies' only carriages are clearly marked in pink, and you'll often see a male newcomer to the city standing in this area unaware (hopefully someone tells him the deal). 

6. Never, never, never give your mobile number to the nice lady at the checkout

They nicely ask for your phone number when you're buying a pair of shoes - and you wonder why but then give it to them anyway...only to be inundated with useless text messages from sales and companies you've never even heard of.

7. Google maps is only half the answer for navigation

Because of the fast-changing nature of Dubai's roads, (and they dropped a canal in there for good measure), Google Maps can only just keep up with the changes - and you'll find yourself swerving to change lanes at the last minute. 

Always always always, leave an extra 30 minutes travel time until you're sure you know the way.

8. There are two of everything

Things that there aren't even normally two of (looking at you Ritz-Carlton). Ritz-Carlton normally only has one venue per city, however they made an exception for Dubai, so there is one in JBR and one in DIFC - just to keep things interesting. 

The Address Dubai Mall IS in Downtown, however, it is NOT The Address Downtown - those are two different hotels, and then there's The Address Boulevard Downtown too - another different hotel. 

9. EVERYTHING is called 'Jumeirah'

EVERYTHING is called Jumeirah, so make sure you clarify if it's Jumeirah-Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residences, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah Islands, Jumeirah Park, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah Emirates Towers or just plain Jumeirah. 


10. It's pretty much the best place in the world to live 

The melting pot of cultures, the land of opportunity, the rich culture, the dazzling buildings and the endless development mean Dubai is a magical place to live and work. 

So once you get a handle on these few things, you're golden! 

Written By

Caitlyn Davey

Caitlyn is an Aussie journalist looking to change the world. In her spare time she loves playing sport, travelling and basically doing anything that means she doesn't have to sit still.