Long lunches, brunches and dinners are popular. Trips to the desert, shopping trips, cinema and sporting event trips are all regular weekend activities.
Unfortunately with 75% of the population being expatriate you are not likely to have many “local” interactions. But you will experience the culture through business meetings, local Souqs and in the shopping malls.
Conservative with regard to dress sense and behaviour, Dubai is not the country to misbehave and as a result, provides a safe environment for families and adults seeking a better life.
It is illegal for unmarried couples to live together according to the laws of the UAE – but this law is seldom enforced in Dubai with police action.
There is zero tolerance for drink driving and drugs. The authorities rate many medicines, which we would class as over the counter remedies for basic ailments, as illegal drugs. So, the best advice is, don’t take ANY medicines into Dubai with you, only use what you can buy in the emirate. If you need a regular prescription drug, find out in advance of your relocation whether it is allowable in the emirate.
Bouncing cheques and defaulting on payments is also a criminal offence. Credit is readily available and it is up to the individual to ensure you can make payments.
Identity is at the core of the culture shock of expat living, and the most common reason for culture shock is not because of differences in lifestyle, but rather missing home and friends.
Getting active in the community, finding activities you love to do and making friends is the fastest way to beat culture shock. With a wealth of expats that have lived in country for over a decade, you should also ensure that you’re discussing differences and seeking advice from those who have been there longer.
Like all forms of culture shock, you must strive for a period of adjustment, which means acceptance. While you may not agree with social snobbery based on position, finance, or just how long one has been around, it comes with the territory. Remember that there are snobs ‘at home’ too. Likewise, there are unwritten class systems too.
Finally, just as you try to put your outrage on the back burner towards the local customs that make you crazy, it’s best to do that with expat circles too.
Remember that in all matters of culture, there is no right or wrong; just different. And that applies to members of an international community who make different choices in the way they choose to live abroad.