Dubai is the largest city within the Emirate of Dubai, offering international big city appeal, along with a cheaper cost of living compared to cities like New York or London. With a big move overseas, comes a lot of change. This adaptation includes everything from finding a job, place to live, and sorting out working or student visas. These six tips will help you make your transition from your life in the Great White North to the City of Gold.

Finding Work In Dubai

Many people enjoy working in Dubai, and particularly benefit from the lack of personal tax, so their take home income is much higher than in Canada. The work week is different in Dubai, with Friday being the weekly day of rest. Some companies even run from Sunday to Thursday, making their weekends Friday and Saturday. Generally, workdays are 8:30am to 5:30pm, but during the holy month of Ramadan working hours are shorter with six-hour days.

Like any move, it’s best to find work before entering the country since many new hires are recruited from international employment agencies. While most people in Dubai speak English, you may want to brush up on your Arabic, the official language of the UAE. Most Canadians can obtain a visa upon arrival, but it’s probably best to speak with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs office of Dubai to make sure all your paperwork is in order and you bring all the required documentation.

Pay Rent In Advance

Many employers are willing to help new recruits find a home in Dubai. If you end up renting a place, you can easily find both furnished and unfurnished options. The most expensive areas are the districts of Dubai Marina and Jumeirah, because they’re near the beach. Word to the wise, most landlords in Dubai will need six months up to a full year’s worth of rent before you move in, so make sure your bank account is ready to take the hit.

Adjusting to the Weather

Canadians are known for dealing with some pretty severe weather, which can happen in Dubai, only the extreme weather here lies at the other end of the temperature spectrum. Just like Canada, Dubai enjoys four seasons, although these seasons are a little less defined. In Dubai, instead of dealing with cold winters, you’ll experience long, scorching hot summers, ripe with humidity. Summers generally last around four months, but not to worry, Dubai has wonderful air conditioning just about everywhere, so you shouldn’t have to spent too much time outdoors if you don’t want to. For those looking for a little relief from the heat, consider visiting the mountain region of the east coast to cool down.

Making Friends Quickly

In addition to befriending locals, there are many easy ways to connect with other newcomers. Companies like InterNations help bring people together thanks to their complimentary membership with online and in person planned activities. Another way to connect is by looking for Facebook groups to help introduce you to others who can befriend you and give you some inside scoops on common questions like arranging childcare, the best schools, places to buy food, get coffee, and more.

Be Friendly

While Canadians are known for being friendly and adaptable it’s always a good idea to read up on the culture in the area where you’ll be visiting or living. Dubai is a Muslim city and their customs in public places reflect this. When out in public remember to dress modestly, keep PDAs to a minimum (like kissing or hugging), and don’t get intoxicated or disorderly, to avoid a run in with the local police.

Other ‘Canadian’ Comforts

Comforts from home are increasing in Dubai thanks to globalization. While Tim Hortons coffee is new on the scene, there are 15 locations to get your double double and Timbits, with some stores open 24 hours a day. Canadian brunch and breakfast giant Eggspectation has made the leap across the pond, with one of the favourite locations in Dubai hosting a beach view over eggs benny. Just make sure you get there early, because there is often a line-up.
Just because you’re living somewhere warmer doesn’t mean you need to abandon your skates. There are some hockey clubs that have formed, catering to children and adults alike. Canadians who enjoy hiking to keep healthy and explore can easily access trails, all within a two-hour drive of the city.
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