Recently, I posted a picture from my visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dubai and asked what it was that you wanted to know about life in Dubai.
You will have seen the malls, the buildings and the hotels on social media but the questions I have been asked are more to do with day to day life.
So, here is part one of questions from Instagram, I hope this provides an insight in to life here in the UAE and encourages some of you to make the visit to my happy place!
Question: Why did you move to Dubai?
A number of reasons – the main one being that my husband had an opportunity to open an office here and we were looking for something new! We love London but we were all ready for a change. After so many years of grey skies, it was time for some sunshine and a fresh start. And that’s exactly what we got!
Question: How strict is the dress code there?
To make it clear, there isn’t a ‘dress code’ – in most places, I am free to dress as I please and would anywhere else in the world. It is only in religious areas, malls and government buildings that you are asked to cover up. It is more about being respectful to others, not only Muslims, in all honesty too – I personally don’t want to see someone in a bikini walking around the mall, do you? It is a place where families go!
Question: What should I pack for a holiday to Dubai?
The same as you would for any other vacation in a warm climate but, as above, make sure you have something to cover your shoulders if you plan on going to the mall or a mosque. In most tourist / expat-populated areas you can dress exactly as you would anywhere else! Also, public places are very well air conditioned so you often want something light to cover up in anyway when you’re indoors to keep you warm. Dubai is very multi-cultural though too and people accept that tourists often might not know what is expected, it is just nice to be mindful and is appreciated when the local customs are respected.
Question: What is the schooling like in Dubai? Is it the same?
Well, to begin with there is no state schooling and you have to pay for your children’s education, so that is something you need to take in to consideration before you relocate for example. Many schools follow the English or American curriculum and some run both! We find that schools here offer more in the way of extra curricular activities and are very big on inclusivity and tolerance etc. There are things that my children are taught that I would love to have learned at school and they have ‘dress up days’ in celebration of certain things where they get to come dressed in a costume. Their most recent was Space Day, to celebrate the UAE’s first astronaut in space, and my boys went dressed as a Guardians of the Galaxy character and Dr Spock!
Question: Where do you go grocery shopping?
We have many Waitrose supermarkets, which is a huge UK retailer, and aside from that the main supermarkets are Spinneys and Carrefour. There are also many markets, such as the fish market in Deira and a number of ‘hypermarkets’ which sell anything and everything. Due to the climate, we do rely a lot on imported things like fruit and veg for example. There are some great organic stores here but, similar to home, they come at a higher price!
Question: What’s it like driving on the other side of the road beside all of these super cars?
Ha! You almost become indifferent to all of these cars because there are just so many. Even some of the police cars are supercars which will always be a novelty to see! Driving here is different to the UK and there are certainly a lot more luxury cars everywhere you look. Many people, including the Sheikhs, drive G Wagons.
Question: Where do you go for every day items – drug store, laundry, coffee etc?
Well, you might be surprised to learn that actually it is not too different to the US & UK. There is a literally a pharmacy on every corner and you can order from them for home delivery (which you can most things here) and that will always be one of my favourite luxuries about Dubai. We have Sephora, Boots etc too so you can generally find anything you would at home. Coffee, well, I’d love to say that there’s a little hole in the wall place I go but I am a Starbucks fan through and through. I have heard there are some lovely Arabic coffee places which I really must visit – it is very popular here! Laundry, dry cleaning etc, there are lots of companies and places to go – most will collect and deliver and you can organise it through WhatsApp.
Question: How do you celebrate other religious holidays in Dubai, such as Christmas?
Very easily. All of the supermarkets sell Christmas trees and decorations, the malls have wonderful Christmas displays as well as Santa Claus. There are Christmas markets, Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, the works. And this is just not for Christians, you see people of all religions enjoying the festive cheer, which is wonderful to experience! The UAE celebrates Diwali, Easter, Ramadan, you name it.