I recently embarked on a new chapter with my family. Long story short, we had an opportunity to try a new country and because we’re all about adventure, why would we not move to Dubai, a place affectionately known as the New York of the Middle East.
Dubai is a place that you either love or hate. It’s a bustling metropolis where everything moves at dizzying speeds – landscapes change as fast as the seasons, cars are flashy, and business is cut throat. There’s a lot to learn about this beautiful mirage in the middle of the desert, but below are a few things that hit you between the eyes harder than a Conor McGregor straight left.
Cars, Drivers & Gas
There are more V8 luxury vehicles here than you can count in one drive on Sheikh Zayed Road (one of the main highways here). Big V8’s also means fuel gets consumed quicker than free sushi platters. There are ALWAYS queues at the gas stations and it’s a major surprise if you spend less than 5 minutes at any fuel station. The upside is that fuel is stupidly cheap here. In South Africa, I’d easily pay R1 000 for a full tank for my double cab, and in Dubai, I pay less than half that amount. Cars are affordable, the fuel is cheaper than water (seriously!) and the drivers are lunatics. Oh yes, did I mention how radical driving on Dubai roads can be? I am waiting for a company to sponsor me a dash cam so I can prove how wild some drivers are. From tailgating, to speeding, it appears as if there are no rules for some, and each drive in Dubai leans towards a game of Russian Roulette. In this town, you have to be aggressively defensive and expect the unexpected. If you think that motorist will never take that 2-inch gap between you and the car in front of you, think again. He’ll be followed by the two buses, Ferrari and motorcycle you didn’t see coming from 3 lanes across.
We ended up buying a big Land Rover Discovery (called the ‘LR3’ here) V8, because you know, Dubai.
Rentals & Schooling … grab your ankles
Apartments and Villas in central or popular areas will set you back more than half an annual salary. And if you didn’t already know, rentals have to either be paid up front in full, or if you’re lucky, in 3 or 4 post-dated cheques. But it’s not all bad news, there are some terrific areas, deemed to be in the ‘outskirts’ of Dubai that can easily be half the price, yet offer equal or more value. We opted for a two bedroom apartment in an area call Dubailand, which for us, is super central yet so much more affordable at 75 000 AED per year.
Then there’s schooling. I don’t swear in my blog, but the cost of education here is (insert expletive here) expensive! If I were to look on the bright side however, the schooling is world class and predominantly based on British curriculums. Compared to other first world countries such as the States, Australia or the UK, it’s either on par or marginally cheaper. I just keep reminding myself that my two boys are getting a world class education despite the R400 000 hole-in-my-pocket, each year.
World Class Service
It is mind boggling how amazingly well things work in this city. Coming from a South African like myself, who’s never lived anywhere else other than little ol’ Durban, I am blown away almost every day. Fresh produce and food can be safely ordered online (including items like proper biltong & droewors) and delivered within 24 hours to your door. Anything you can imagine, can and will be delivered to your door – gas refills for your stove, drinking water, washing & ironing – Dubai, quite literally, delivers. Call centres from banks to cellular service providers are so helpful and a delight to deal with; public transport (Uber, Taxis, Metro) is as dependable as Batman defending Gotham is. And of course everything is so safe, too. Coming from South Africa just showed me how ‘untrusting’ I am of everyone. I’ve had to ‘unlearn’ a lot of my paranoia (valid only in SA) as people just look at me strangely. I’ve confused a lot of people here when I enquired as to where to purchase smash ‘n grab window tinting…
I Love Dubai. Despite some things being expensive, or drivers being wild, this city has life and it will capture your heart if you let it.