Best and Worst of Living in the Gulf

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The Best and Worst of Living in the UAE

GOOD FOR

Sunshine

Although climate change and the greening of the UAE has led to more rainfall in recent years, you can still pretty well guarantee sunshine throughout the year. The best months are in the winter (November to March) when temperatures are between 20 and 30e_SDgrC (68 to 86°F). The summer (June to September) is extremely hot and humid with temperatures around 50e_SDgrC (122°F) and 90% humidity.

 

No Income Tax

Although there is no tax locally (yet), foreign nationals need to be aware of their own governments' tax laws. UK citizens, for example, need to be out of the country for a complete tax year in order to benefit fully. It is important to seek advice from an accountant. Salaries are paid in dirhams the currency is fixed to the US dollar, and the fall in the dollar has seen many Europeans lose value in their salaries over the past two years.

Food and Frolics

The UAE has fresh food flown from around the world at reasonable prices. With some of the toprestaurants (and those in hotels serve wine too) there is a vast range of things to do. The supermarkets are well stocked withinternational produce, so if you miss home luxuries like Branston pickle or Sun-Pat peanut butter you'll be sure to find them.

Low Crime Rate

This has moved from a zero crime rate, reflecting the increase in visitors. But it is rare to hear of violent crime, serious robbery or burglary.

Community

There is a great social scene in the UAE. With its cosmopolitan employment record there are lots of opportunities to meet and work with people from other nations. There are clubs for most sports orrecreational activities.

Shopping

If you want it you can probably buy it. Dubai has always been a trading port. You can buy gold, flowers, Gucci clothes and even Marks and Spencer underwear in some of the largest and most lavish shopping malls in the world (one of which even has a real-snow ski slope).


BAD FOR

Driving

Traffic in Dubai is horrendous, dangerous and illogical. Cars are plentiful (it is THE place to buy the Porsche you always wanted) but expect it to get the odd scratch. Most people opt for safer 4-wheel drives and you can go offroading at the weekends in some great desert locations. Unlike Saudi, women can drive. Visitors to Dubai can drive on international driver's licences but once you are employed you must take a test and have a UAE licence.

 

Construction

It is said that 30% of the world's cranes are in Dubai. Building work is going on in almost all areas 24h a day, seven days a week.

Housing

Despite the construction there is a shortage of reasonable-cost apartments and older style villas. There are properties for sale, but there is still little known about the potential for selling your property when you decide it's time to leave Dubai. Lower-cost properties are available in Sharjah. Sharjah is less liberal than Dubai and all alcohol is banned, even in hotels. Another of the emirates, Ras-al-Khaimah, which is also developing an aerospace industry, is now allowing properties to be sold at a fraction of the price of similar places in Dubai. RAK, as it is known locally, should only be 20min from Dubai if the proposed trans-emirates light rail system gets built. In the meantime there is the challenge of driving through Sharjah into Dubai on one of the most congested roads in the world.

Gossip

(or good for it, depending on your point of view). With its own version of Hello magazine, it is difficult to remain private in Dubai. The expatriate community, (personified by Jumierah Jane, a kind of lady who lunches) keeps an interested eye on who is seeing whom, doing what and earning how much.