I’m in my month 8 in Dubai and what a year it has been! What struck me first was that there is so much familiarity with all the South Asian faces around. This is what my husband calls “pseudo India”. One can get away with talking in Hindi at most places, and it is quite re-assuring for a new comer. I felt like an interloper at first, with everything and everyone seeming very distant. No friendly neighbors, no job – and that leads to no friends, highways. I missed everything about India in the initial days. But this just bothered me for a few weeks. This city starts growing on you like any other. The variety of entertainment options and opportunities is unfathomable. What is also awesome is the wonderful smiling faces everywhere from the gym, to the malls or even the local grocery store. People are genuinely smiling at others. I started accepting all the frills and thrills in this city.
1) Weather: Pleasant, Hot & Hottest – I am lucky to have arrived in November, in the best months to be in Dubai.There is a lot happening – festivals, markets, etc etc. The Husband and I enjoyed many evenings sitting at the Balcony sipping our Tea. It is exciting time to be in Dubai, if you what to do and what not to do. Come April, the smiles start appearing the other way around. It is hot, sticky and sunny – 24*7! I have never had tolerance to heat but this place takes it to another level.
2) Getting around – Yay! I live right next to the Metro station and this makes me super independent. If you are looking to set up base here, I highly recommend staying within 500 mts to a Metro station (consider walking in Summer months as well). This is extremely crucial as it can be a while till you can drive yourself around. The Metro is the lifeline of Dubai and this will be seen at peak hours at all the downtown stations. It is very easy and economical to use the Metro. You can pick up the ‘NOL Card’ which can also be used for Trams and the buses. Taxis are readily available (except around 4 to 6 PM – I guess this is their change of shift ?) and are not too expensive, the minimum fare is just 12 AED.
3) Stay – All new migrants stay towards the southern part of the city. We are at JLT (Jumeirah Lakes Towers) and it is one of the best places to be at. The proximity to Metro line, accessibility to all parts of the city, restaurant & shopping options and the whole community feel makes it a very lucrative area. There is also a very active FB page that makes it a very good neighborhood. Other options for a similar lifestyle are also available at Dubai Marina/ JBR but rents are way higher in those areas. More economical options are Discovery Gardens, TECOM, Al Barsha etc. Important tip: Make sure to read reviews on the building before finalizing the place.
4) People – Dubai is truly a juxtaposition of the east and west. On one hand, you have the Western population all around and on the other, a plethora of South Asian and Filipino population filling up the rest. Wikipedia says 53 % of Indian population is Indian! Whowuddathunk!
5) Language – Just about everyone in Dubai talks in English. You can also get away with Hindi/ Urdu in most places – including malls, grocery stores, taxis, your building maintenance guy….Just be polite and all your work can get done.
6) Dining in & out – There is no dearth of eating options in Dubai. You name the cuisine and one can list 50,000 options, like literally! There are some really good options in each pocket of the city, from the old Dubai (Karama, Bur Dubai) to the more happening joints at DIFC. There are some super restaurants at the Marina area – most of them also come with beautiful views. I hope to do individual posts of Food options in the city.
7) Things to do – In winter, there are tons of options in and around the city. Everyone is out on the roads, in the malls, on the streets, everywhere! The tourists fill up any empty spaces. Some things I enjoyed the most were – Hot Air Baloon riding, partying with friends on a boat from the Yacht club, Dhow cruise, festivals like Street nights DXB, Dubaicanvas, Christmas celebrations at Madinat Jumeirah, NYE, long drives outside the city and so much more!
8) Shopping – Again, there is nothing you could not buy in Dubai. There are the typical Malls in almost every area, then the old Dubai for a regional (read: Indian) shopping experience. There are many markets like Ripe market, Fruit & Vegetable market etc for an off-beat experience. There are plenty of options to suit all budgets.
Being my first post, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I hope to continue writing….
Please do reach out to me for any recommendations or help that you would need.