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UAE

Cultural Differences Between the UAE and UK

Moving to the UAE will be an exciting step, but it’s also a major change. Here’s how to get used to it.
International removals between the UK and UAE are on the rise. It works for both parties. Businesses in the UAE are looking for talented professionals from overseas, while people in the UK are attracted by the thought of low taxes and a new, exciting experience.

The UAE is a great place for many reasons. Dubai is fast becoming one of the most desirable cities in the world, but it also represents a gateway into so many other parts of the world.

But making the move will be a big challenge. Dubai has become one of the most international cities in the world with foreign workers now outnumbering the local Emiratis, which gives it a uniquely cosmopolitan feeling. Underpinning all that, though, is the rich local culture.

The cost of living is cheaper
Fed up with the soaring prices of life over here in the UK? Don’t worry, everything is much more affordable, whether it’s your daily shop or rents. It’s so much more affordable that you might struggle to adapt to London budgets when you return. The only thing you will have to pay more for is alcohol and women’s fashion.

The lifestyle is much stricter
Buying alcohol is difficult. The hotels will serve it but you’ll have to pay a much higher price. Your best option could be to stock up on duty free and drink in private. The dress code varies around the UAE especially for women. In places such as Dubai it’s much more liberal than elsewhere. For example, women do not have to wear head scarves. Even so it’s polite to respect UAE culture. Tight or low cut skirts are deemed offensive, and if you bare your shoulders you might find yourself warned.

Theatre and entertainment
If you love going to the cinema or the theatre you might be disappointed. There’s not much of that here, except for Bollywood. However, it does have plenty going for it – some great museums, nature reserves and a racecourse. If you embrace the local culture you can still have a lot of fun.

The weather is hot…
… Very hot. It couldn’t be more removed from London if it tried. Out in the desert temperatures soar to more than 40°C in summer and the humidity will make life very uncomfortable. You should keep yourself hydrated and try not to go out at the hottest times of the day.

Getting a visa
While we’re still in the EU we’ve become used to free movement, but the only real way to get a visa is if you have work to go to. If not, it’s going to be extremely difficult. Since the economic crisis work has become harder to come by as the UAE – like much of the world – experienced a big downturn in its economic fortunes.

Embrace the difference
Moving to the UAE, then, will represent a much bigger cultural shift than other places – and it can take time to adjust. However, these differences can also be exciting. As with so many things in life, much depends on how you accept and embrace the local culture.

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J.D. Liverpool, UK to Toronto, Canada -
July 2017

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