Watch yourself on the roads

The UAE's highways are full of high-powered 4x4s, driven fast and often badly. Everyone has been tailgated by one of these tinted-window armoured personnel carriers - its occupant invariably with mobile phone pinned to his ear and flashing hazard lights. Seasonal fog and blown sand can add to the danger. An accident last year saw more than 100 cars collide on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai highway.

Get involved

Indoor skiing 
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The Gulf's big cities offer an array of leisure, cultural and sporting activities. Living there allows you to sample everything from scuba diving to quad biking, mountaineering to winter sports(at Dubai's indoor ski centre). These are a great way of making friends and networking, but not everyone talks shop. One airline captain says his sailing companions are fellow pilots, but never discuss work. There are soccer, cricket, basketball, baseball, rugby and ice hockey leagues, and multi-channel cable TV to watch most of them, too. Although live professional sport is in its infancy - the UAE soccer league is a poor substitute for the English Premiership - big clubs host demonstration matches. Many of the world's top rock stars play Dubai, and Abu Dhabi aims to become the region's cultural capital, with plans to build branches of New York's Guggenheim Museum and Paris's Louvre.

Watch the small print

Although most employers are reputable and help with accommodation, education and healthcare for senior staff, it is wise to check your contract of employmentcarefully, and never rush into signing accommodation contracts or loans of any kind. Ensure, too, that you take a test for a local driver's licence.


Expect lively political debate

The English-language media in the region, whether daily newspapers or radio phone-ins, range from informative but safe to downright sycophantic. World events are covered well and occasionally dirty laundry - from sleazy court cases to admonitions on littering or poor driving - is washed in public. But the utmost respect is always paid to the ruling elite and senior government ministers. The global downturn has presented the media with challenges, however. It is no longer possible to present a constantly glowing picture of economic success, and the press in Dubai, in particular, has been fairly frank with its readers. But if you are tired of doom and gloom reporting and want to live somewhere where people are upbeat and the media look on the bright side, the Gulf is for you.

Disrespect the local culture

 © Rex Features
Shopping in a swimsuit during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan may not get you locked up, but it is seen as extremely disrespectful. So, too, is eating or smoking in public during daylight hours (restaurants and cafés are either shut or have screens to hide diners). Gulf cities may have become tourist destinations, but rememberIslam is the official state religion and Muslims are called on to pray five times a day. Showing affection in public is a no-no too.

Neglect your finances

Bear in mind your (tax-free) salary will be paid in the local currency. The UAE dirham is pegged to the US dollar, so if you have a non-dollar mortgage at home, you may gain or lose according to exchange rates. Foreign citizens must also be aware of their government's tax laws. Best consult an accountant.


Source: Flight International