New expat to Dubai and think you need a bit of a guide? Or do you already live in our fine city and just want to reconnect with what it is you need to do to actually have a decent enough time here without ruining your life, or at least without everyone else thinking you’re a dick? Take a look at this massively generalised article on how to get along in Dubai.
There’s quite a few more where these came from, and if you have any of your own suggestions or pieces of advice, feel free to add them at the bottom so I can take credit for them in the second instalment of this piece. Only joking, of course you can have credit! You deserve it:
1. Change Your Attitude
The first thing you’re going to notice about it all is that (almost all) the expat community is very friendly and outgoing, even to strangers like you. We are all a long way from home, and it’s just easier to all get along, right? As more turn up, this will undoubtedly change, but these are the good times. So, if you come from somewhere like I do, and you expect every man to stare you clean out the moment you walk in somewhere, or every girl to give you the brush off, it really doesn’t happen that much, unless you’re just an absolute sad act. Of which there are a few. If you’re already friendly and nice, don’t change, but if you’re guarded and would rather not talk to strangers – stop that. Mummy is 4000 miles away, she’ll never know.
2. Most People Are Bullshitters
So yeah while everyone is really friendly, when it comes to conducting business you’re going to come across your fair share of people who are so full of shit you kind of want to flush them. So while I’m all for being nice and friendly, also perhaps don’t believe all you are told. Especially if it’s a job offer, or you’re an entrepreneur/freelancer hoping to get paid without signing a contract (or even if you have sometimes). There are specimens out here who are simply out for themselves and they couldn’t care who they tread on to get there. Yeah, they all get found out in the end, but until then make sure you ain’t one of the ones they screw over on their way to nowhere. Think about it, why do a lot people come to Dubai (generally)? To escape something bad at home, or to make it rich. Either way, watch yourself when trying to do business.
3. Financial Advice? Why Bother?
You’re going to be noticing that you get a whole load of ‘love its’ ringing you up asking to meet with you. These are called financial advisers. If you’re getting cold-called (we will literally never know who they are paying off at one of the phone companies to get your number), then you know it’s probably not gonna work out so well. Sometimes they phone me up trying to talk to me about pension reforms, I’m like “Mate, I can’t even say pension reffff…” (I can really). But seriously, where would I have a pension from? My 20 year career with the military? I’m 30 (35 – ed). Actually, I probably should think about some kind of savings plan right? NO! That was a test. Just say no. Want some financial advice? Stay in a few nights a week, don’t order take aways every night, stop being so fat, and keep whatever money you have left over from that in one of them empty whiskey bottles next to your bed. “When the banks all crash, the stud holding the cash is going to be getting an awful lot of blowjobs…” – Alan Johnson
4. Credit Card Awareness
When you get your bank account, your bank is going to be very keen on giving you a credit card. So will basically every other bank (I think they have the same number supplier as the aforementioned financial advisers). As far as I’m totally on board with having a credit card to pay for emergency stuff, like my Playstation, wide-screen TV and loads of nights out (only joking…. But not really), there’s something they do out here with the old credit card scene that you may not be used to. When your minimum payment is due, if you DON’T pay off the whole amount in one go, they punish you by sticking on about 2 grand in charges each time you fail to pay the WHOLE BALANCE off. It’s in the small print somewhere, but it’s never really made clear. It’s your punishment for not paying it all off as they demand. So, for example if you have spent 20,000AED, your minimum payment may be 2,100AED, which is fine. You pay that, then two days later, check your statement to see there is something called BILLED DEFERRED FINANCE for whatever amount they fancy (although I’m sure it’s a percentage dependent on how much you owe). For this amount you will probably find they take about 700 off you for themselves, meaning you’ve only actually paid 1,400AED. It’s quite mad really. Takes a lot of balls. We slag off the banks in England, but…. Wow.
5. Stick to the Script
This isn’t always the case, but if you are doing something like:
a) Checking into a hotel
b) Ordering food over the phone
c) Booking anything over the phone
d) Talking to anyone over the phone
e) Dealing with anyone who is sat behind a desk
Keep it simple. Stick to the basics of what it is you require. If you are checking into a hotel, say: “Hello, I have booked a room.” Then let them lead the way. Same with all the rest of these examples. My sister never, ever learns this. She checks into a hotel, does the first bit OK and then launches into a tirade of verbal loquacious psycho-drivel that even William Shakespere would have been hard pressed to make sense of: “So how are you today it’s hot isn’t it I just got here this morning from England I was wondering if I could get a hot meal sent up right now do you need my credit card why is my room not ready I’m a vegetarian and I like shoes where is the spa what time does the swimming pool close where are you from I work on the radio in London I have a dog but now she’s old do you have a dog where’s the best place to buy a nicoise salad how many espressos can you have before you start to go mental….” I could go on. But she really shouldn’t. While this is happening, I’m watching the poor guy’s head begin to look like it’s about to explode and his body kind of start to convulse. Like he’s a robot that you’ve just poured a gallon of water into. It’s not his fault, not everyone cares about England and speaks fluent English you know? Especially me. Keep it simple.
In our next edition of “how to get along in Dubai” we will be covering tricky subjects like how to go about dating, how to not break the law, how to find food which is a bit like you get at home, and how not to end up leaving with less than what you came with. Should be really great. OK see ya.