After working in Dubai for almost five years now, I thought I’d come up with Five Reasons to Work in Dubai for the curious and Five Reasons Not To for the skeptical.
1. Financial – If you work in Dubai or anywhere in the United Arab Emirates for that matter, you enjoy an income tax free salary that will enable you to save up until you get tired of desert life and pack up your bags to jump into a plane to your next destination.
2. Multi-culture experience – In my current work, I am able to mingle with people from different nationalities learning about their language, culture and religion. Personally, I have learned to look beyond what is negatively portrayed in the media regarding Muslims (majority of my work colleagues are Muslims).
~ me (right most) with my work colleagues ~
3. Adventure – Now that I’ve mentioned the financial part (must be the most important aspect of any relocation), we can discuss about what’s in store after work or during your holidays. Dubai is a perfect starting point to exotic destinations you can think of: the neighboring Middle Eastern countries like Jordan, Syria or Egypt. Europe is not that far with London only a 7 hour flight as going to Bangkok and Singapore. Maldives is nearer too.
4. Free trip home – Expat packages include 30 days of paid vacation every 12-18 months (depending on your company/employer) including round trip ticket to home country. I never got this while I was an expat in Japan!
5. That resume appeal – Including a “difficult region” (Middle East) in places you’ve worked will definitely make your curriculum vitae pop out from the bunch.
…and five reasons NOT to.
1. Heat – This one is the most obvious. If you despise the heat, forget about moving to Dubai. It is hot 8 months of the year with humidity soaring up to more than 90% at the peak of summer. It would be difficult to walk to work even if you live nearby.
BUT – though many people criticize the heat here and think that we expats living here are living loony masochists happily suffering in the heat, I have to point out a word called “acclimatization”. The first summer is worse but after that, you won’t believe you’d be able to say that 30C is quite “cool”. Also, since all of the buildings including residences have centralized air conditioning system, I can vouch that it is far easier spending the summer here in Dubai than in Japan or the Philippines, two places I previously lived.
2. Multi-cultural experience – While this can be a good thing for others, I know people who do not like to work with other nationalities but their own. And I fully understand! There are cultures and working styles to adjust.
3. Driving – It is said that there are 200 different nationalities living in Dubai. That means, people put various meanings and practice to what is called “safety driving”. To be blunt, there are idiots on the road and you’ve got to practice defensive driving! As a personal experience, I’ve been driving in Japan for 7 years before coming here.
The difference is like heaven and hell – there are almost no courtesy in the roads, some drivers are rogue and never give way. It’s been better now than we first arrived in 2007 because the Roads and Transport Authority have tightened their rules in the driving schools.
4. Noise – Dubai is a city that’s not finished yet. It’s a work in progress everyday with construction going on left and right – contrary to what you’ve read in the tabloids that bash Dubai like it’s a new Olympic sport, it’s not a ghost town around here.
So if you live or work in a construction area, expect noise pollution. Or when you reside near a mosque, be prepared to be startled by the call to prayer five times a day starting before 6am! * The mosque is what we look out for when looking for a place to live here. We prefer away from it.
5. Second class citizen – You are in another country not your own so that categorizes you as a guest and in some cases, second class citizens, always next to locals or the white people (if you are Asian). You’ll be treated with good hospitality, yes but always be aware of your boundaries – and memorize the line: “This is their country, not mine.”
Whatever the reason or wherever you choose to go to live or work I guess there’s always two sides of the coin. I am sure there are other reasons to work here and not to, depending on the expat you ask but this is my list and things might be added when I have that random light bulb moment.