(May 2009 - August 2009)


The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Consists of the Following Countries:

• Saudi Arabia
• Kuwait
• Bahrain
• Qatar
• The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
• The Sultanate of Oman

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Consists of the following 7 Emirates:

Facing the Arabian Gulf:
• Abu Dhabi. Capital city is also Abu Dhabi. Other two major cities: Al Ain (Oasis) and Dibba
• Sharjah
• Dubai
• Ras Al Khaimah
• Umm Al Quwain (UAQ)
• Ajman (the smallest Emirate)

Facing the Gulf of Oman:
• Fujairah

Population of UAE and Dubai:

• UAE: 4.7 million
• Dubai: Less than 2 million. The local Emiratis make up around 5% of the city’s population and the rest are expatriates. The dominants are India, Pakistan and Philippines.

Seasons and Weather: Only summer and winter:

• Summer (May – September): extreme warm and humid. Temperature reaches 40-50 °C. Often have sand storm and the visibility is blurring like evening time. No rains at all. Construction work mandatory stops during 11:00am-3:00pm at peak summer seasons.
• Winter (October – April): 7-20°C. Warm and cozy.

Local Currency: Dirham (Dh):

1S$=2.5Dh. Pegged to US dollars.


Though Arabs is the official language, English is widely used since Dubai is a cosmopolitan city and its wide range of diversities of expatriates.

Weekday and Weekend:

• Week: Saturday to Thursday
• Weekend: Friday and Saturday. But for the construction industry, only Fridays.
• Workweek During Ramadan Period: Observe curtailed hours

Main Roads:

• Sheikh Zayed Road (highway)
• Jumeirah Road (along Gulf beach)
• Emirates Road (highway)
• Al Khail Road (highway)
• Etc.

Old Towns:

• Bur Dubai
• Deira
• Karama
• Etc.

New Dubai Areas:

• Most high-rise buildings are along Sheikh Zayed Road
• Palm Jumeirah Island
• Etc.

Main Residential Areas:

• Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)
• The Greens
• The Gardens
• The Discovery Gardens
• The International City
• Etc.

Mainland Chinese Community Area and Restaurants:

• China Shoe City in Deira
• Dragon mart and nearby area
• China village in the International city
• Some shops at Karama
• Xiao Wei Yang (mutton steamboat restaurant)
• Etc.

Local Newspaper:

• Dubai based: Khaleej Times
• Abu Dhabi based: The National
• Gulf Region: Gulf News

Places of Interest:

• Abra ride (Dh1 to ferry from Bur Dubai to Deira). There are a few Abra stations along the Dubai Creek and each gets to the different destinations.
• Dubai Museum (Dh3)
• Desert Safari (Dh160 – 200)
• Heritage village in Bur Dubai
• Heritage House in Deira (free visit)

Shopping Mall Business Hours:

• Battuta Mall: Sunday to Wednesday: 10am – 10pm; Thursday to Saturday: 10am -12 midnight. Supermarket Geant: Saturday to Friday: 9am – 12 midnight
• Shops may close till 2:00pm on Fridays in other Emirates for morning praying

Shopping Malls that I have visited:

• Ibn Battuta
• Mall of Emirates (MOL)
• Dragon Mart (hyper-market for China-made products)
• Spinneys (chain super market in Dubai)

Live in Dubai and Cost:

• Accommodation: major expenditure goes to it.
- Rental (a studio DH 3000 – 4000)
- Laundry outside window is not allowed in most residences. In fact, dust storm makes laundry outside even dustier.

• Food
- Minimum self-cooking meals for a month: Dh600
- Minimum KFC set meal: Dh20
- Budget Indian meal in Bur Dubai: Dh10
- Normal meal, that is, rice plus one meat and one vegetable at food court at Battuta Mall: Dh25-30
- 6 pieces of fresh chicken drum stick at supermarket: Dh7.5
- One cauliflower: Dh8
- Small box of fresh mushroom: Dh5
- Normal vegetables: dirt cheap
- Mei Lin luncheon meat can from China: Dh9
- 5 nos. of normal red apple: Dh6
- 3 nos. of peach: Dh14
- Starbucks coffee (blended ice Frappoccino): Dh17
- Tax-Free Wine: liquor shop in UAQ

• Move Around
- Dubai is not a pedestrian-friendly city. Roads and other infrastructure are mainly built for the cars. Scorching heat makes walking under the sun an unpleasant experience. Therefore, apart from the shopping area, hardly can see people walking on the street. On the other hand, car ownership is much more affordable than in Singapore. Plus there is always cheap petrol in the middle-east. However, road accidents in Dubai are reportedly one of the highest in the world.
- Street lighting is dim. Unless you are familiar with the area, lose your way at night is not uncommon. Especially riding in the night public bus, passengers can hardly see anything outside expect for the moving lightings.
- Toyota Corolla, 2006,fully automatic, 51,000km, Dh35,000
- Toyota Camry, 2007, fully automatic, 51,000km, Dh55,000
- Parking at malls and suburb area: free
- Taxi fee from Deira to Discovery Gardens (about 40km): Dh70. Normally: minimum Dh10. Dh1.68/km.

• Public Bus and Rules
- Connecting shopping malls, Metro stations and main residential areas and usually plying along non-highway roads
- F43 connect Discovery Gardens to Battuta Mall
- 8A: From Battuta Mall to Deira via Bur Dubai crossing Al Shindagha Tunnel
- More services along Jumeirah Road to Bur Dubai
- Give away 3 front row seats to ladies. There is a barrier to separate the front from rear
- 2 main bus terminals: Al Ghubaiba at Bur Dubai and Gold Souk at Deira
- Bus fare (flat): Dh2

• Night Life and Pubs
- Only in the hotels
- Pub at York Hotel: entry fee on Thursdays night: Dh75
- Pub at Panorama Hotel (a Sri Lanka restaurant on the ground floor offering good buffet dinner): entry fee cum a small bottle of beer: Dh40 (weekdays)
- 1 jug of beer: Dh100
- 1 mug of beer: Dh35

• Others
- Khaleej Times: Dh3
- Dubai map: Dh45
- 800 page paperback book: Dh72
- Haircut at shopping mall: Dh60. But in Deira or Bur Dubai: Dh15. For haircut service, according to the law, the barber serves only the male customers. Likewise, the hair-dresser serves only the female customers.
- Night desert Safari: Dh160 - 200
- Movie: Dh30
- Cleaning maid: Dh30/hr
- Internet: Dh180/mth

Salary (Source: majority from local newspaper, some from mouth-spread info):

• Expatriate project manager: Dh20,000 / mth (all inclusive)
• Expatriate construction foreman: Dh13,000 / mth (accommodation provided)
• Translator cum protocol officer to a foreign embassy: Dh198,152 / annual (including housing allowance)
• Local driver: basic Dh1800 + Housing allowance Dh1100 + OT Dh2000=Dh4900 / mth
• Local construction foreman: Dh3500 – 4000 / mth
• Local 5y experience electrical engineer: Dh5000 – 7000 / mth

Mosque and Prayer Times:

• 6 pre-determined times daily dependant on the prayer’s location
• Usually men go to Mosque and women not compulsory. But some mosques have separate area for the women prayers.

Local Terms:

• Abra: ferry station
• Dhow: a big wooden boat
• Emiratis: local UAE people
• Hommons: a kind of jelly made from smashed soya beans. To go with mutton steak wrapped with pan cake (Japati)
• Khanjar: sward
• Shisha: a filtered pipe smoking through a portable water tank
• NOC: No Objection Certificate. A letter from the applicant’s sponsor. Note: almost everything must have NOC, for example, to land a job, to apply a bank account, to apply Internet access, to enroll to the driving school, etc.
• Ramadan: Holy month for Muslims (fasting period). Working hours is curtailed during Ramadan: for Muslims: till 1:00pm; for non-Muslims: till 3:00pm.
• Souk: market
• Wadi: valley

Local Products, Shopping and Distinctive Things:

• Dates
• Perfumes
• Gold jewellery at Gold Souk in Deira
• Branded items
• Tobacco and the associated gears
• Different races of people: Caucasians, Arabian, Sub Continent people (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lanka), Asians
• Different brands of cars on the road

So You Decide to Work in the Middle East:

But before you embark, in addition to your work related skills and competency, ask yourself the following questions:
• Am I able to live independently? That is, to buy groceries and prepare meals, take care of everyday chores like washing, ironing, cleaning, etc.
• Am I able to stand extreme and humid weather?
• Am I able to bear loneliness when alone?

If all above answers are "yes", then go ahead to get some work experience in the middle east. Otherwise, just adapting to the life is a challenge.

Websites Relating to UAE and Dubai:

[General] [My Journey] [My City Tour] [My Visits to Other Emirates] [My Work] [Battuta Mall] [Heritage House] [Old Days] [Mosques] [Dubai Map (3.4Mb) ]