Life in the UAE: A guide to living in Dubai

Life in the UAE: A guide to living in Dubai

Modern-day Dubai is a booming city of futuristic skyscrapers, luxury hotels and residential property, state-of-the-art tourist attractions and a global hub for business and trade.

Decades of sustained property investment has transformed the Emirate from a quiet trading and fishing town into one of the world’s premier business and tourist destinations. The combination of a tax-free salary, hot climate and general high quality of living has seen thousands of UK expats make the aspirational move to Dubai on an annual basis in recent years.

If you’re considering being part of the next generation to benefit from the journey east to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), what can you expect in terms of local customs, employment, education, lifestyle and day-to-day life in Dubai?

Residency Visas

If you already have a job lined up in Dubai then obtaining a residency visa is normally a straightforward process, as most employers will take care of the details for you. Most companies will have a public relations officer (PRO) who will process your visas and other important documents, such as the Emirates ID Card, which is mandatory for all residents over the age of 15. Most PROs speak Arabic and are therefore well positioned to deal with relevant government departments on your behalf. A visa application will require you to submit a medical report, so be prepared to visit a clinic for a check-up that will include a blood test and chest x-ray. A UAE employment visa must be obtained within 30 days of arrival, however most western country passport holders are permitted to exit and re-enter the UAE by doing what is locally known as a ‘visa-run’ by travelling to Oman which is just a three-hour drive away. This subsequently entitles the passport holder to a further 30 days visit visa, however rules are known to change quickly and without notice, so it isn’t advisable to rely on visa-runs for a longer term stay in Dubai without an offer of employment or sponsorship from a family member.


The UAE does not grant citizenships to non-Emiratis, regardless of the amount of time they have spent in the country.



The United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED) is the currency used throughout the UAE. The following exchange rates apply:

  • £1 = AED 6.3
  • $1 (US) = AED 3.7
  • €1 = AED 5


Many employers will help their staff set up bank accounts and some even have a specific bank which they prefer to deal with. Opening an account will usually require you to provide documents such as passports, residency visas and employment contracts. There are a wide range of local and international banks to choose from, while the most prominent – are local banks including Emirates NBD, First Gulf Bank, RAKBank and United Arab Bank. Islamic finance is also a popular choice with both local nationals and expats, with banks such as Emirates Islamic and Dubai Islamic Bank offering Sharia-compliant banking products meaning that all transactions are carried out in compliance with Islamic principles. Some of the world’s leading international banks also have a presence throughout Dubai, these include HSBC, Barclays and Citibank.


Although the UAE is tax free, it is important to get your tax affairs in order in your country of origin prior to departing. Certain rules and technicalities may mean that you will be liable for tax in your home country, so it’s vital that you contact your local tax office for information ahead of your move.

General cost of living

According to The 2014 Worldwide Cost of Living survey published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Dubai ranks 94th on the list of the 131 most expensive cities around the globe. As is the case anywhere in the world, the cost of living in the UAE largely depends on your income and lifestyle. Although your salary won’t be subject to taxation, certain outgoings – such as accommodation and education – may be more expensive than in other parts of the world. Food, transport and petrol tend to be quite reasonably priced, however utilities can often be very expensive, particularly if you live in a family villa – during the summer months be prepared to pay a premium for increased usage of air conditioning. Here is a snapshot of the cost of some day-to-day items in Dubai:

  • Monthly internet broadband: AED 281 (£45)
  • Pair of jeans: AED 380 (£60)
  • Cappuccino: AED 20 (£3.20)
  • Tank of fuel for a medium-sized car: AED 80 (£12.70)
  • 12 eggs: AED 12 (£1.90)
  • Bottle of wine in a restaurant: AED 200 (£32)



“The working environment in Dubai is always changing due to the constant influx of expats, which incidentally make up around 85% of the city’s population. Working alongside people from different cultures can be very enriching and because most people come from outwith Dubai, you quickly find yourself making long-lasting friendships with colleagues.” 

Kristina – Dubai-based blogger

Dubai’s economy has enjoyed a steady period of growth in the years following the 2008 financial downturn. Although there is no denying that fossil fuels were responsible for developing the region’s economy, the UAE is not solely reliant on oil and natural gas revenue. Cities such as Dubai are now home to a multitude of industries, including tourism, real estate, construction, IT and financial services. The Dubai job market is highly competitive, with foreign workers attracted by the quality of life, high salaries and the accompanying tax-free perks. A wide selection of recruitment agencies are located in Dubai and represent many of the city’s major businesses. Most western workers find employment via this type of agency. The UAE working week runs from Sunday to Thursday and business hours tend to mirror those of most western countries. The following websites contain job listings for a wide range of industries in Dubai:

Business Districts

Dubai is home to numerous business districts and communities which play a crucial role in driving the growth and development of the city’s economy. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) forms an integral part of the city’s business community and helps to promote the growth and development of financial services across the UAE economy. Specialities include banking, insurance, capital markets and wealth management. Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) acts as the DIFC’s independent risk-based regulator, which enables DIFC to comply with international regulatory standards. The DFSA regulatory system is modelled on both UK and US legislation and has helped DIFC established itself as a secure and attractive centre for businesses. Another key player in the continued growth and development of Dubai’s economy is JAFZA (Jebel Ali Free Zone), a popular business community made up of over 7,000 companies.

Elsewhere, Dubai Investments Park (DIP) is a vast 2,300 hectare complex located within close proximity to some of the city’s key business districts. It is recognised as one of the most unique development areas in Dubai, offering a mix of residential, commercial and industrial properties including hotels, apartments, leisure centres and shopping facilities. DIP also ensures that at least 10% of the land on each development is set aside for conservation and green space. Jebel Ali Port is located to the south of Dubai Marina and is the Middle East’s leading marine terminal, having recently been voted the ‘Best Seaport in the Middle East’ for the 20th consecutive year. It is owned by DP World, one of the world’s leading seaport operators, and plays a crucial role in handling cargo from around the globe. It is also listed among the top 10 container ports in the world and serves over 180 shipping lines throughout the year.

Free Zones

Dubai is home to over 20 Free Trade Zones which are designed to accommodate foreign-owned businesses and provide them with key business solutions as well as tax exemption and office space. Some of the most notable free zones include:

  • Dubai Media City: DMC opened its doors in 2001 and has established itself as a global media hub which houses a variety of international media companies and their 13,000 employees.  DMC enjoys a prime location next to the highly desirable Dubai Marina district in the heart of the city.
  • Dubai Internet City: As the largest Information and Communications Technology hub in the Middle East, Dubai Internet City (DIC) is home to a broad range of international IT companies including Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Cisco.
  • Dubai Studio City: The UAE is becoming an increasingly popular destination for filmmakers and TV production companies, with the latest Star Wars film shooting on location just outside of Abu Dhabi. Studio City offers state-of-the-art sound stages, commercial offices and support services which cater to both local and international TV and radio productions.

Local Customs

As well as being a global business hub, Dubai also offers a huge cultural mix thanks to the expat population. Over 200 nationalities make up the city’s population of just over two million people, making it one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world. As well as western expats, there has also been a large influx of Indian-subcontinent, Asian including Filipino and Arab expatriates. Although the expat community accounts for a large percentage of Dubai’s population, it is none the less important to be aware of the cultural differences you can expect to encounter while living there. Islam is the official religion of the UAE and local nationals place great emphasis on preserving their culture, beliefs and ideals. Locals are generally very understanding and welcoming towards expats and visitors, but it is important to be gracious and adhere to their customs.

mitch williams

“Dubai is a place filled with many people from many different backgrounds, beliefs and heritages. Living here you learn that it’s all about having respect for fellow citizens, their property and for what they do. It’s an inspiration to see how people live in harmony amongst such diversity. Like anywhere, there are rules and regulations in place but they are there for a reason and will be enforced. Provided you bear these things in mind while going about your everyday life, then you’ll have no issues whatsoever.”

Mitch, Dubai-based blogger (

Dress code

One of the biggest, day-to-day differences expats will notice relates to the rules surrounding public behaviour. Dubai is generally very tolerant of western cultures and this extends to dress codes as well. There are areas of the city which are considered to be more liberal, with restaurants and bars which are similar to those you would find in any western country. Dress codes within these establishments tend to be fairly relaxed, though it must always remain tasteful. When spending time in other parts of the city however, it is important to ensure that you dress respectfully. The basic rule of thumb is that women should ensure their knees and shoulders are covered, however, provided you dress and behave in an educated and tasteful manner, you should have no issues whilst living in Dubai.

Public displays of affection

Dubai’s attitude towards displays of public affection differs to western countries, but a bit of common sense will ensure this doesn’t become an issue.  Despite what you may have heard, holding hands, friendly hugging and kissing on the cheek as a greeting is commonplace, however anything more than this may run the risk of causing offence and is best avoided in public. It is common amongst Arab and Asian cultures for men to greet each other by kissing on the cheek and rubbing noses, and you may also notice a lot of men walking hand-in-hand. It is not usual for Muslim men and women to shake hands and it is advisable to wait for the offer of a handshake when greeting a Muslim of the opposite sex to avoid an uncomfortable situation.

Alcohol consumption

Alcohol laws in the UAE differ from western countries, however, you can still find a variety of western bars, clubs and restaurants in Dubai which are popular with expats and visitors. Should you wish to purchase alcohol from a shop, however, it’s important to note that you will first have to apply for an alcohol license. Alcohol can only be bought from specialised shops and is not available in supermarkets or other stores. Obtaining a license is fairly straightforward, with application forms available from MMI liquor stores. The completed form must be returned to the store along with the application fee and the following documents:

  • Copy of passport and residence visa
  • Copy of tenancy contract
  • 1 x passport sized photograph
  • Copy of employment contract


The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is known as the Holy Month of Ramadan; a highly religious and sacred period of the year. Muslims use this time for reflection and appreciation, of which fasting is integral. Throughout the duration of Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours as part of a process of cleansing. Ramadan also has an impact on non-Muslims, as it is illegal to eat and drink in public during daylight hours of the fasting period. Furthermore, the law requires working hours to be reduced and most restaurants will remain closed during the day. Some restaurants will still deliver food and offer take-away, whilst others will operate with blacked out windows so that non-Muslims can dine-in during the day. Bars also face restrictions. They can only serve alcohol after 8pm, and are also required to lower their music during the holy month.

Other customs to be aware of

Swearing and rude gestures are considered to be a criminal act. In line with many other countries, you are forbidden from driving after consuming any form of alcohol and a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal drugs is also in place. You’ll also notice that pork and products containing pork aren’t readily available in local supermarkets and restaurants. This is because, under Islamic law, Muslims are forbidden from eating pork. You can still purchase pork in some supermarkets and western establishments, with special pork sections of supermarkets labelled ‘Pork For Non-Muslims’.

Crime and Safety

Crime rates across the UAE rank among the lowest in the world, and Dubai is no exception. The Emirate is considered to be very safe and have extremely low levels of violent crime in comparison to other major cities around the world. As is the case in every country, common sense prevails: Take care of your belongings and refrain from leaving your property or vehicle unlocked.


Dubai’s tropical desert climate means summers in particular are extremely hot and humid, with average temperatures around the 40 degrees Celsius mark. Even winter temperatures regularly drop below 24 degrees Celsius, so you can expect a hot climate throughout the year. The city also enjoys over 300 days of sunshine annually, with minimal rainfall whatever the season. Be prepared for a thunderstorm on average of once per year, where there is often a lot of rainfall resulting in mild flooding throughout the Emirate.

Health care

Health insurance in Dubai usually forms part of the standard employment package of any job, particularly for western expats. The standard of private health care is excellent and hospitals contain state-of-the-art medical equipment and highly skilled health care professionals from around the globe. Be aware, however, that most employee health packages won’t cover maternity care or dental treatments, so it’s worth reviewing those details with your employer when negotiating your employment terms. In terms of day-to-day medicines, there are plenty of pharmacies located throughout the city – some of which stay open 24/7. Certain medicines which would require a prescription in western countries, such as antibiotics, can be purchased directly from pharmacies without a prescription however it is advisable to consult a doctor first, as you would at home.


Although state schools do exist in UAE, they are for Emirati children only. Expats can take their pick from a large number of private schools – many of which offer a British education. Institutes such as the Dubai British School welcome students between the ages of three and 18 and teach according to the British National Curriculum. Students are therefore able to study for their GCSEs and A-Levels in the same they would in a UK-based school. Some schools offer a combination of British and American curriculums, while others include International Baccalaureate degrees. All the schools for expat children charge fees and some also operate waiting lists, so it’s a good idea to start earmarking potential institutions as early as possible. Registering a pupil with a new school usually requires you to provide records of their past two years in education, birth certificates, a copy of both the child and parents’ passports and basic health records. There are also options in place for those considering higher education. Dubai is home to several universities, including The British University in Dubai and The American University of Dubai.


Dubai’s rapid expansion and influx of tourists and expats has helped fuel the property market, making it one of the prime locations for global property investors. Dubai’s real estate market experienced a 25% growth in 2013, which has continued into 2014 and thus helped to further establish it as one of the world’s strongest real estate markets. The Emirate’s tax-free status acts as a further incentive to those wishing to purchase a home there, which has resulted in Dubai becoming one of the best performing rental markets in the world. Expats looking to purchase property in Dubai can ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible by using a licensed real estate broker to facilitate the purchase of property. In terms of mortgages, the UAE Central Bank has positioned the mortgage limit for first time expat home buyers at 75% of the total value of properties costing AED 5 million or less. The mortgage limit for properties exceeding that price is 65%. Some of the most sought after areas for property in Dubai include:

  • Dubai Marina: A property investment hotspot boasting exclusive waterfront developments in a self-contained community. It offers the very best of Riviera-style living. In addition to high-rise luxury apartments, Dubai Marina is also home to restaurants, bars, office space and leisure facilities.
  • Downtown Dubai: As the name suggests, living in Downtown Dubai means you find yourself in the heart of the city. Luxury apartments sit side beside world-class hotels, shopping malls and the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building.
  • Palm Jumeirah: The world’s largest man-made island is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world and is home to some of the city’s most exclusive beach front properties.
  • Jumeirah 1, 2 and 3: The Jumeirah residential area is divided into three sections which stretch along the waterfront near Jumeirah Beach, and feature a mix of spacious villas and modern apartment buildings. This area is extremely popular with Emiratis and you can expect to find the most luxurious custom-built villas here.
  • Jumeirah Islands: Over 50 islands make up this affluent residential area which boasts hundreds of villas as well as local amenities such as restaurants, leisure centres and supermarkets.
  • Emirates Living: This popular district is located near Dubai Marina and Jumeirah and features several different development areas which offer a mix of luxury apartments and villas. The community is also home to two world-class golf courses; Montgomery Golf Club and Emirates Golf Club.

Elsewhere, it’s worth keeping an eye on up-and-coming areas such as Jumeirah Village Triangle, Jumeirah Village Circle, Motor City, Dubailand and Sports City.

Samantha Dancy

“Renting a property I registered with estate agents, but the best way of finding accommodation was on websites such as Dubizzle, I would search every day and invariably all of the properties I searched for were managed by agents. Demand can sometimes be high, however, so patience is paramount. Once I found a place to live the process was fairly simple; I signed the papers, handed over my cheques and documents and the agent then arranged for DEWA (water and electrical) to be set-up. It was a quick process and I moved in within a couple of days.” 

Sam – Dubai-based PR & Social Media consultant



Rental contracts in Dubai are for a fixed term of one year, with the majority of landlords requiring up-front payments for the full rental period. Payments can be spread between one and 12 post-dated cheques, however, the more cheque payments you make, the higher the rent is likely to be. To avoid complications with landlords it is vital that you rent a property through an agent. Agents will help you through the process and ensure that your contract is legal and registered with RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency).

mitch williams

“Finding a place to live in Dubai can sometimes appear tricky at first, because you have to pay a year’s worth of rent upfront. This means you either pay the full amount or provide two to four post-dated cheques for the full amount. I recommend speaking to your employer about helping you to pay for the initial rent, and you can then agree a payback plan directly with your employer. Using a rental agent is also important as they know the areas and are able to facilitate all the necessary paperwork, as well as provide you with some piece of mind when signing a contract for such a long period.”

Mitch, Dubai-based blogger


Getting around

Samantha Dancy

I like using the metro service on weekends if I am going to the mall, but it doesn’t run all evening and at the moment it only services one straight line. Taxis, however,  are pretty cheap and easy to come by so I’ll usually hop in one of them if i’m not driving.

Sam – Dubai based Social Media & PR Consultant  



Travel by car

Travelling by car is the transport method of choice for the majority of people in Dubai. The road network is well maintained, offering easy motorway access to other Emirates. Foreign residents are required to obtain a UAE driver’s licence and for a UK licence holder it’s simply a case of applying for a UAE license from the Road and Transport Authority. Compared to western countries, Dubai can be a dangerous place to drive at times. The city is a melting pot for different cultures, all of whom have differing concepts of road rules and courtesy. Long-term car rentals are popular with expats, particularly those on short-term contracts who are reluctant to commit to buying a car. Likewise, hiring a car can enable you to get used to the driving conditions in and around the city. Taxis are also readily available throughout Dubai and can be flagged down at the side of the road or called out to your house or place of work by giving just 10 to 15 minutes’ notice.

Public transport

Dubai has a well-established public bus service with over 79 different daily routes, catering for upwards of 300,000 passengers each day. Air-conditioned bus shelters are also being installed throughout the city in order to maximise passenger comfort. Alternatively you can take advantage of the ever-expanding Dubai Metro system, which features 47 stations jotted along the 75km long network of tracks. Trains run from just before 06:00 until midnight or 01:00 each day, with each station offering bus connections. Even when taking public transport, it is important to be aware of local rules and customs. Typically, each train will feature five cars – one of which one will be dedicated solely to women and children and feature space for prams and bags.


Few places reflect Dubai’s status as a leading global destination more than Dubai International Airport, which is now recognised as the second busiest in the world. It serves more than 125 airlines flying to over 260 destinations worldwide, making Dubai a truly global hub for business and leisure. So whether you’re looking to head home for a holiday or explore other parts of the globe, Dubai offers easy access to all six continents.

Useful contact information

Emergency services:

  • Ambulance: 999
  • Fire: 997
  • Police:  999

Dubai Water & Electricity Authority (DEWA): +971 4 601 9999 Dubai Roads & Transport Authority (RTA): +971 4 284 4444 Click here for a map of foreign embassies in Dubai.

UAE Cuisine

The cultural diversity of Dubai’s residents is reflected in the city’s eclectic mix of cafes, bars and restaurants which serve just about every type of international cuisine, from fast food to Michelin-starred establishments. A wealth of international food chains are spread throughout the city, including popular establishments such as McDonalds, TGI Fridays, Nandos and Yo Sushi. There’s also a multitude of fine dining establishments, as well as cafes and breakfast bars. In terms of local cuisine, meat, grain and dairy have traditionally been staple part of Emirati diets. Grilled meat, seafood, salads and bread feature heavily on traditional menus, with kebabs and the local favourite, Shawarma being particularly popular.

What to See and Do

Dubai has enjoyed a rapid rise in recent years due to its booming economy, thriving industries and subsequent influx of foreign workers. Heavy investment into infrastructure, luxury resorts and world-class attractions, however, has seen the Emirate also emerge as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations. As a result, Dubai is fascinating city to live in due to its wealth of top attractions, leisure facilities, restaurants and shopping complexes.  

“I enjoy spending my down time in Deira, which often involves taking an abra boat ride across the creek. It’s great fun to just wander around the Bastikaya district and explore a different side to Dubai.”

Marianna, Dubai-based blogger (


  • Burj Khalifa: The tallest building in the world enables you to take a bird’s eye view of Dubai and the surrounding desert landscapes from the observation deck on level 124. The 828 metre-tall structure dwarfs the vast Dubai skyline and is hugely popular with visitors keen on taking in some spectacular unrestricted views.
  • Ski Dubai: Donning a pair of skis may not be the first activity that springs to mind when you think of the desert, however, a trip to Ski Dubai will expose you to over 20,000 sq m of snow. A chair lift services the five different runs, the longest of which is over 400 metres in length.
  • Dubai Fountains: The choreographed fountain system can be found not only outside the famous Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, but also beside Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai – only bigger and better. The fountains are a magical sight after nightfall when the spectacular light show takes centre stage to worldwide musical hits.
  • Burj Al Arab: One of the most iconic buildings in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab opened its doors in 1999 and become the world’s first seven-star hotel. Shaped like a sail and rising out from the sea on an artificial island located just off Jumeirah Beach, this opulent luxury hotel is always worth a visit – even if it’s just for afternoon tea.
  • Shopping malls: Dubai’s shopping facilities are second to none and residents can enjoy rich pickings when it comes to top-class shopping malls. The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are among the most popular malls, and between them they offer a mix of international fashion retailers, restaurants, aquariums, ice rinks and a host of other attractions.
  • Gold and spice souks: If you prefer a more traditional shopping experience then a wander through the city’s gold and spice souks is not to be missed. Put your haggling skills to the test over a piece of jewellery or a bag of spices, or simply wander the narrow alleyways and soak up the atmosphere of the traditional Arabic marketplace. Take a ride across the creek on an abra for just AED 1 whilst you are there for an unforgettable Arabian experience.
  • Souk Madinat Jumeirah: Located inside the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel, this lively souk may be more modernised than the more traditional souks but still offers everything from oil and spices to antiques, jewellery and art. It even has its own canal system which connects shoppers with luxury restaurants and bars within the resort.
  • Waterparks: Dubai is home to numerous waterparks, however they are best avoided during the hotter summer months. Wild Wadi and Aquaventure at the Atlantis hotel are the two main and most popular waterparks in Dubai and make for a fantastic, fun-filled family day out.

“One of my favourite places to visit is The Beach, a new hot spot near Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence. It reminds me of promenades in France or California and this charming place is packed with trendy restaurants, shops and visitors. It also offer indoor and outdoor cinemas with a great selection of movies.   Art lovers, meanwhile, may want to check out Alserkal Avenue – Dubai’s art district. Its home to over 20 creative organisations and plays host to festivals, exhibitions and art projects throughout the year. And if that’s not enough to entice you, the area is also home to some of the best coffee shops in the city.”

Kristina – Dubai-based blogger  

Restaurants and bars

Dubai residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out, with a selection of cafes, bars and restaurants reflecting the city’s multi-cultural population. From Irish bars and cafes selling fish and chips to Michelin-starred fine dining, there’s plenty to whet the appetite. Bob’s Fish & Chips is a firm favourite with British expats and the perfect place to visit if you’re ever feeling a tad homesick. Those more partial to a kebab may find it hard to resist the lure of the aptly named Kebab Shop, which serves up various delicious versions of kebabs at six locations throughout the city. The popular Dubai Marina district is home to a wide selection of quality restaurants and bars:

  • Pier 7: A new seven-storey establishment which houses a variety of great restaurants, all of which offer fantastic views of the Marina.
  • Reem Al Bawadi: Excellent service and authentic Arabian food has made this restaurant a firm favourite with both residents and visitors. The menu offers a mix of grilled meats, chicken, sea food and pasta to name but a few.
  • Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse: With roots dating back to 1960s New Orleans, this popular steakhouse serves up some of the finest steaks in Dubai. As well as New York Strip steaks and Cowboy Rib-eyes, you’ll also find generous helpings of sea food and delicious cocktails on the restaurant’s varied menu.
  • Dubai Marina Yacht Club: Set in the heart of the Marina, the yacht club offers casual and fine dining restaurants, as well as the Sports Lounge which serves up beverages and food alongside sporting events on the big screen. Dubai Marina Yacht Club is one of the most popular Thursday night hangouts in Dubai Marina.
  • Pure Sky Lounge (The Hilton Jumeirah Beach Residence): Located on the 35th floor of the hotel, this elegant and atmospheric bar offers stunning views of the Arabian Gulf as well as an expansive drinks list and light snacks.

Nearby at The Beach and The Walk on Jumeirah Beach Residence you’ll find the following popular establishments:

  • Aprons & Hammers: The clue is in the name of this popular seafood restaurants. Diners are equipped with aprons and wooden hammers which enable them to crack open the shells of freshly caught lobsters, crabs and shrimps – all served in large buckets.
  • Counter Burger: Here it’s all about mixing food with creativity. Diners can build their own burgers and milkshakes, and take their pick from a range of side dishes such as chili cheese fries and sweet potato fries.
  • The Butcher’s Shop and Grill: The perfect spot in which to indulge in a wide range of juicy steaks and roasted ribs. As the name suggests, this popular restaurants also has an in-house butcher, ensuring only the finest cuts of meat land on your plate.


Dubai Mall is the biggest and best retail destination in the UAE. It makes for a great family day out due to all the leisure facilities, while its luxury shops and excellent restaurants are a real plus too. The Mall also features a dancing fountain which features daily music and light shows. Kristina – Dubai based blogger

Dubai is a haven for shopping enthusiasts and is home to some of the world’s most extravagant shopping malls. The city’s most famous shopping destination is the Dubai Mall – the largest shopping mall in the world. In addition to its 440,000 square foot Fashion Avenue which is lined with the biggest fashion brands in the world, Dubai Mall also boasts an Olympic-sized ice rink and cinema complex. Elsewhere, thrill seekers can take their pick from a range of motion simulators, attractions, virtual experiences and gaming machines at Sega Republic. The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo ranks as one of the primary attractions within Dubai Mall, featuring the largest viewing panel in the world which so visitors can observe in excess of 30,000 marine species including over 400 sharks. Directly outside the mall you’ll find the spectacular Dubai Fountains and the world’s tallest building, the iconic Burj Khalifa. Other popular malls include the glamorous Mall of The Emirates which is home to hundreds of fashion and lifestyle shops, while shoppers can also choose from a broad selection of excellent restaurants. You’ll also find a cinema and the indoor ski centre, Ski Dubai. If you have a soft spot for luxury cars then be sure to visit the valet parking area by the Harvey Nichols entrance, where you can catch a glimpse of Ferraris, gold-plated Bentleys and other high-end sports cars.

“My favourite place for shopping in Dubai would be the Ibn Battuta Mall. It’s full of character, relatively quiet and features a nice range of affordable stores. The food court, meanwhile, is full of healthy alternatives such as Umami.” Marianna – Dubai-based blogger (

You’re not solely restricted to ultra-modern shopping centres, however, as some of the city’s best retail experiences can be had in the old markets and souks in the Deira district. The Gold Souk, for instance, is home to hundreds of market traders selling gold necklaces to pearl earrings, diamonds and everything in between.

sally prosser

“When it comes to shopping in Dubai, I love nothing more than a trip to the Farmers Market on the Terrace every Friday morning during the growing season. The Terrace is located on the grounds of Jumeirah Emirates Towers and enables you to buy the freshest and cheapest organic vegetables direct from local farmers.”

Sally, Dubai-based blogger (    



Dubai’s ability to attract tourists and businesses from across the globe has enabled it to grow from being a city known only for its oil and gas, to one which is now internationally recognised as one of the most important tourism and trade hubs in the world. Although local rules and customs must be respected, Dubai is a safe and prosperous place for expats to live and work. High salaries and the absence of income tax, combined with modern properties, world-class attractions, state-of-the-art leisure facilities and a warm climate only add to the city’s appeal. Meanwhile, the growth in the city’s economy and property market shows little sign of slowing up, making it a highly desirable place to both live, work and invest. The cultural diversity of Dubai’s population, as well as the millions of tourists who visit the city each year, helps make it a truly international destination. Its architecture, restaurants, bars and shopping facilities draw inspiration from a variety of cultures, all of which combine to make it one of the most fascinating cities in the world to live in.    

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