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Life in the UAE

Life in Dubai

I am writing some points / observations from my perspective having moved to Dubai in early 2014.  There is of course lots of guidebooks (a lot are out of date by the time they are printed as Dubai is building / developing so fast) and online forums are also good to gather information. The first few months were challenging getting the right school, finding a house and getting to know our way around.  But it is a safe, busy dynamic city with lots to see and do.  Hotels and Hospitality are very much at the core of the success of Dubai and are seen as one of the major drivers of the growth of Dubai.

Dubai Airport (DXB) lands 66 million passengers per year. It is estimated that 12 million of these are tourists and by 2020 this figure will rise to 20 million. It recently overtook Heathrow in passenger numbers!

The target for 20 Million tourists is based on hosting Expo 2020 when Dubai will host The World Expo. Dubai World Expo 2020

In 2015 alone the following hotels are due to open  Palazzo Versace, Paramount Hotel, Langham, St. Regis complex 1600 rooms +.    Eight thousand rooms were added in 2014 with more planned in 2015 bringing the total to apx 88K majority in the 4 & 5 star categories.

Dubai is indeed booming and there are many opportunities, the challenge can often be getting that first position in Dubai.  If one establishes themselves in Dubai there are great career opportunities and a very enjoyable lifestyle not to mention Tax Free salaries.


Initially Dubai was daunting the roads are hectic and the drivers are very uncourteous but like all things a few weeks later all expats manage well on the roads.  It takes some time to navigate around the city and as Dubai roads are been built at such a pace the Sat Navigation systems can be misleading at times.  The good things are cars are cheaper and petrol is apx 25 – 30Euros to fill a Jeep and best of all there are petrol pump attendants.  Public transport is good but not well used as cars are the main forms of transport.


Finding a school can often be a daunting task but it has got easier as a lot of new schools opened in Sept  2014 and more schools are due to open.   The schools are mostly in the British or International Baccalaureate system.  The schools are well resourced and have excellent facilities but can be expensive ranging from 7,000 Euros – 15,000 Euros per child – some companies will pay some or all the tuition costs.


The selection of housing is very varied with most people choosing to live in Villas/ Houses more in the suburbs or apartments in the Marina/ Downtown/ JBR.   Jumeirah is a coveted location close to the beach but the houses are often older.  is a good site to give an idea of budget and range.  Estate agents are very aggressive and as housing is in demand you may often have to compromise on some element.

Shared housing / company housing – a lot of hotels will have staff housing complexes depending on company policy or seniority of the position you may be living in company accommodation.  They can be very nice and will have family apartments, Swimming pools, gyms and transport to work.

As an example ex pat shared accommodation including utilities can be in the region of 35-40k AED per annum.  For your own townhouse in a nice district prices start from AED 70k upwards and usually a landlord will look for rent in advance, either 3 months, 6 months or 12 months.

Social life

There is an extensive range of restaurants and there are food outlets everywhere ‘The Dubai Stone’ is often talked about as a lot of socialising revolves around food.  Note even Mc Donald’s deliver to your house.  Drink is very expensive and a bottle of house wine is approx 60 Euros and a drink at a bar approx 8 Euros.  Taxis are good value and there are good car booking services.

You can apply for an alcohol licence which is about 35 euros and this would entitle you to purchase alcohol in one of the 3 designated stores, prices for a slab of Budweiser may be 35 euro or 4 bottles of wine would be 24 euros.

Most restaurants are attached to a Hotel as this is how they attain a drinks licence. There are a few Irish Bars with Mc Gettigans having two locations both great for food and socialising.


Yes it is very hot in the summer and often the mothers and children will go home in the summer there is a bit of an exodus at the beginning of the summer.  It is very hot from June to October and from then on the weather is a lovely temperate 20s/30s.   It is similar to other hot countries you have very good air- conditioning so it is manageable.

Irish in Dubai:

There are many Irish ex pats in Dubai and two organisations that work together….You can even play hurling and Gaelic with the Celts.

Irish Business Network

Irish Society Dubai

The Dubai Celts

Working in Dubai:

The working week is Sunday to Thursday, it used to be a 6 day week but now its 5 days but with a lot of companies the working week is 48 hours.

The culture of all organisations is very multi cultural and human resource departments can have 10 – 25 staff.


Recruitment process in Dubai:

Typically it can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months for you to sign for a role and this is typical of the large international brands.  However one group we work with normally interview a candidate initially on skype 24/48 hours after receiving the details if you match their requirements and then a few days later you may have a face to face interview with them in London.  If after this you are successful you will receive an offer within 24 hours and this is left with you for a maximum of 48 hours to give a yes or no answer, if no answer given the offer is withdrawn.

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