Dubai may be the world’s greatest melting pot with around 80 percent of the city being foreign-born. You’ll find men and women from over 200 countries, including some still waiting to be recognized by the United Nations, each with their own distinct identity and culture.
Originally a fishing village, Dubai has become one of the largest and most developed cities in the Middle East. Despite the pandemic, over 200,000 foreigners arrive each year. By 2040, the population will nearly double, mostly due to immigration. How is it that this desert town has attracted so many people from the East and West?
Growing Business Sector
Since the 1990s, Dubai has established itself as an international center for trade, finance, tourism, and technology. The city has attracted millions in foreign investments with over 6,400 multinational corporations operating there. Its strategic position has transformed it into a major trading hub in gold and diamonds, as well as a crucial link between financial markets.
The industry thrives too, especially aluminum production; Dubai produces nearly 2.4 billion tons a year. It’s also a popular tourist destination. More than seven million people visited the city in 2021, down from 16 million in 2018, but significantly more than London, Bali, and Rome. In fact, TripAdvisor recently named it the number-one destination in the world.
This type of diverse, fast-paced growth has created a huge demand for foreign workers. Companies are particularly eager to hire westerners experienced in law, finance, IT, telecommunications, public policy, international relations, software design, web architecture, and marketing. With an average salary of $85,000, it’s no wonder so many educated professionals move to Dubai.
No Language Barrier
Most people in Dubai speak English. Though it may not be their first language, you’ll have no trouble making yourself understood. However, it’s still a good idea to learn some basic Arabic phrases. For instance, if someone shouts “Yalla! Yalla! Yalla!” they’re telling you to hurry up. If they say “Maafi Mushki” it means “no problem.”
“Inshallah” (If God wills it) has a dual meaning, depending on context. Traditionally, it’s an affirmative expression of hope (“Are you coming over tomorrow?” “Inshallah”) but modern Arabs sometimes use it sarcastically to mean they can’t be bothered.
Bustling Cultural Center
Dubai sits at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It’s unusual to find more than two ethnicities working together in a typical office. No other city in the world provides such startling insight into world culture. It’s a place where people who might never have met rub elbows every day.
Dubai doesn’t believe in half-measures. It’s home to the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa). One of the world’s largest man-made islands (Palm Island). And the world’s second-largest shopping mall.
Its biggest library, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, has 4.5 million books. Aquaventure Water Park on Palm Island has over 100 water slides. The Dubai Aquarium lets visitors get close up with over 140 species of marine life, including full-grown tiger sharks. In 2022, Dubai opened the Museum of the Future. This gigantic complex showcases groundbreaking developments in robotics and artificial intelligence.
Sky-diving, bedouin camps, dune buggies, historic tours, hot-air balloons, flamingo sanctuaries, a 2,000 seat opera, and a 100 million flower garden ‒ there’s always something to do in Dubai. No other city spends as much time inventing new ways to have fun!
Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world. Laws are strict and their police are well-funded. However, there’s a deeper reason for its law and order. One of the most common punishments for breaking the law is deportation. For immigrants who’ve come to advance their careers or send money back home, it’s a huge incentive to be on their best behavior. Theft and violence are practically nonexistent. Despite the presence of so many opposing religions, no one’s scared to walk down the street or even looked down on for their beliefs.
Dubai offers free education for all children 5-15. However, since classes are taught mostly in Arabic, most foreigners choose an international school instead. The city has over 200 of them, most highly rated. You can choose from a wide range of curriculum, including American, British, French, and Japanese, so there’s no danger of your children falling behind classmates back home.
Because families move in so often, most schools have rolling admissions. Children can join at any point during the school year, though space may be limited, so it’s best to apply early and choose a safety school, just in case.
First-Rate Public Transit
Dubai has one of the cleanest and most reliable public transportation systems in the world. Buses, water buses, trams, monorails, trains ‒ the city is incredibly well-connected. Dubai has even developed a free mobile app that lists train schedules and prices and passes can be purchased separately. Money is added to the pass and deducted electronically as you enter the station.
Dubai has no income tax and virtually no sales tax either. There are still import duties and utility taxes, however, so some basic goods and services may be more expensive than at home.
Dubai is bursting with world-class restaurants. Cafes and eateries are everywhere. There’s food from every continent and culture ‒ exotic dishes and old favorites from back home. Brunch is particularly popular. It’s the city’s favorite Friday meal and the best way to kick start the weekend.
Warm & Sunny
Dubai is a paradise for beach lovers. It’s almost never overcast and there’s sun all the time. Temperatures climb dramatically from May-September, but the rest of the year is warm and pleasant. It does rain occasionally, but only in short bursts. The rest of the time feels like a golden summer ‒ bright, hot, and clear.
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