Tell me again exactly how Dubai has hurt you?

Too many people focus on what the emirate is not, rather than what it is.


well I have stayed in Dubai for 3 years from 2013 to 2015. I only have good memories, there may be some negatives but the positives far outweigh everything else. Yes, the rents and food costs were high but there is a clear advantage of having an International stamp on your resume.
Your future employers in another country are not gonna ask you what was the DEWA bill like.

I have worked in Tokyo, Singapore and multiple cities in Germany and travelled on business to many countries. Every country has their own set of problems. Usually way more than what Dubai is facing.
Somehow everywhere I have been to, people have singled out my Dubai stay and always excitedly asked me about my Dubai experience.
Enjoy the cars, deserts, multi-cuisine food and if u r tired of it all just move to another place. I don't regret moving out as well.

Tony Gray

"Ask not what Dubai can do for you, ask what you can do for Dubai" (with apologies to JFK)


Very well said @MT3


@MT3 essentially yes, at least from an expat perspective (someone working in Dubai)
From a business owner perspective the shortcomings are even more apparent. It is really a pity as things could have been done very differently instead of wasting the opportunity, but I guess you could say that of essentially every country.


The actual quote was; "Ask not what your country can do for you..." For me that illuminates one of the biggest issues in the UAE. This is not our country, never will be and we are reminded of this regularly. Lose your job, one month to leave. We know the deal so there can be no complaints but it fosters the short-term mercenary attitude a lot of people have in Dubai, something that permeates most aspects of our lives. We want it now - it's no good talking about nation-building and how great it's going to be in the future; we might not be here. I want my money, I want my lifestyle and I want money in the bank as fast as possible - anything that limits that is a bad thing. Few of us sign up to an emotional or social contract with this country. Perhaps if we did we might be happier but I can see why people don't. Until you can encourage a feeling of genuine collectivity then the country will get the ex-pats it pays for, perhaps not the ones it wants.


Today, CNBC published a report on the world's most expensive cities to live in ( The ten most expensive cities are as follows:

2-Hong Kong
3- Zurich
4- Tokyo
6- Seoul
7- Geneva
8-New York
9- Copenhagen

I think we expats living in Dubai have a lot to be grateful for.

One Guy

In the latest survey by InterNations, the company collected votes from 14,300 expats, representing 174 nationalities and living in 191 countries or territories, to rate 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven. Some of these aspects include healthcare, safety, childcare, education and the cost of living.

UAE comes in at the 40th position (overall), with one of the biggest drops in rankings this time around (from 19th) owing to drastic decline in indices such as 'Cost of Living' and 'Working Abroad'. Other countries with high declines include Indonesia, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Countries that show drastic jumps in rankings include Vietnam (35 to 11), Uganda (45 to 25) and Finland (51 to 32). India is ranked 49 while Bahrain leads the table among its Middle Eastern counterparts at the 19th position, Kuwait, Qatar and KSA were near the bottom.


@WHJ funnily enough my lifestyle is roughly the same wherever I live.

My consumption basket may change to exploit local opportunities but no, there have been no big differences for me between living in London (where I was also tax free mind you), Dubai, Zurich, Sao Paulo, Paris or Madrid. I realize that this is linked to my lifestyle, with heavy travel and limited time in the base city.

Where I see a difference, a brutal one, is on the quality of the business ecosystem from banking services, ability to enforce a contract (essentially getting paid) and as discussed on a previos thread the ability to attract top talent. Plus other critical aspects that we can not discuss.

Until this place offers a proper legal and regulatory environment it will not play in the big league.


@Omar. Thanks, I'll take that as a compliment.
@Nick. You asked me to correct you, so I will:
1) I'm not from the UK, or any other English speaking country for that matter. 2) The majority of expats who work in the DIFC are generally well paid in relation to other locations. 3) The DIFC has a plethora of affordable cafes and restaurants.
You see Nick, the question expats should ask themselves is not whether they are rich or not, the question should be where would they be better off: in Dubai or in their home countries. Expats who think they would be better off in their home countries should waste no time in leaving.
Try living in Singapore, Zurich or Geneva and then tell me about what expats can and cannot afford.


i think you should work for a PR agency or Donald Trump.

Nick James

I think WHJ, that you are one of the better off expats, and in the minority, and you can afford to be grateful, as the standard of living in Dubai is way better than where you are from (i.e. anywhere in the UK).

An example - 80% of the expats working in a location like DIFC / DAFZA cannot afford to eat in the cafes / restaurants / food courts in one of those locations, and I would assume that you are one of the 20% who can afford to, and are happy that you don't have to mingle with the 80% who can't.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Ed B

I think Dubai is a great place to live as long you have a secure and well paying job, an employer that pays school and housing fees, and as long you do not need to move houses every year. I am in that position, and have nothing but good words about my living experience here.

But looking around, I think for expats with lower incomes that need to support a family here, Dubai is not a good place to live. Housing and school fees are far out of proportion of mid-range salaries, and will put a high financial pressure on these families, and lets not forget that in this country that is a big risk: debt repayment issues will land you in jail.


@Ivan Radchenko. What is truly regretful is that many expats come to Dubai with unrealistic expectations and a certain sense of entitlement thinking they can make the grade and hit the jackpot in a short period of time. Then when reality sets in, they start blaming the city.
If you come to Dubai thinking you can live in expensive apartments and own expensive cars without having the right amount of cashflow, that's your fault. If you can't pay a year's rent in advance, then rent an apartment that you can afford or find an owner who will accept multiple cheques (by the way, plenty of landlords now accept two and three cheques).
According to you, a person who is realistic, knows his budget limits and has learnt how to balance his books is living in an "ivory tower ". Well, that's where you are wrong. This person could be living quite happily with a much lower income than yours. He's just better than you at math.


Very good point, all people should try and balance their books and live life according to their means. But in reality very few people practice it well, and many do aspire to a better life, which is not a fault by itself. People take risks all the time and most hopefully do their math and prepare for the worst, but sometimes events are outside one's control (e.g financial crisis), and so one needs to have cushion against adverse outcomes, but 98% don't have those safety nets.
The margin of error can be quite costly for many expats as costs can skyrocket and losses do have domino effects, so unless you are truly well heeled, I would advise careful consideration in any investment strategy.


Let people be. Opinion is a personal perspective. I've been here for ten years because. We all have ups and downs, good times and bad and whilst I agree with your article, I fail to see your point. Are you defending Dubai? Are you attacking those who have an opinion? And do you even live in the Emirate?!
Yes it's safe, it's tax free, it can give an amazing lifestyle and it is enjoyable... But it can also be expensive, lonely, artificial to some.
If you choose to live here, great! Come, welcome. If you don't like it, pack up and go somewhere else.


@1 guy. Thank you for eagerly awaiting my remarks. The reality, which seems to escape you, and other commentators with tunnel vision, is that expats living in Dubai are happy, and definitely happier than they would be back home. The people I'm talking about are those who know how to balance their books and do not indulge in foolish schemes or, like I said in an earlier post, in ill-advised escapades.
The middle-class in Dubai is alive and well, and thriving I might add. Expats here are wealthier than most of their peers back in their home countries. Those with less than AED 25k salaries you mentioned are still getting paid more than they would back home. Everything is relative old chap.
When costs rise, you re-adjust your lifestyle. If you can't, don't blame the city.

US Expat

Loved the Article.. but, without a proper job with a decent salary or other investments; Dubai is a absolute money pit. Three years of dealing with scammers and other Ner' do Wells. I am leaving for a newer location to start all over again. Came in 2007 and the first couple of years were fun and very good. However after 2011-2012, its been a disaster of failed businesses due to customers non-payment or investor misrepesentation mostly. Could go on forever about failure and missed opportunities.... but I look forward not behind.

Truly Loved being in Dubai and hate to leave. Just need lots of disposable income to survive.


I have noticed similar behavior on some people. Luckily enough the people I really find inspiring and smart also share my love to this city.

I think Dubai is even quicker and more volatile in mirroring your own mood, charisma and daily form than others like London or New York. Remember that in a city with unlimited overflow of prestige and capital nothing is more precious than personality and a smile. Shine the city shine back better than any other city, try it, its magic and free!

One Guy

So I think basically when the Author says: When I hear people complain about Dubai, I call them out. This city you are highly critical of, I say, has hurt you how? With that great job, with that wonderful salary, with that tax-free lifestyle? It sets the tone for a lot of criticism of this article.

The truth is that only a very select few enjoy the benefits outlined in that statement and it makes it very obvious that it comes from the cozy confines of one's ivory tower (the tallest one of course).

Essentially, the vast majority of people in Dubai are doing it tough in one way or another. Some are promised something that doesn't exist, some miscalculate, some get taken advantage of. So here's a tiny but very common example - What happens when you think you have perfectly good job only to find that you don't get paid for months at a time, yet still have to pay huge rent in advance? Not very fair - that hurts, and with no solid legal protection the feeling of helplessness really hurts.


"In other cities, like the city state of Singapore for example, it will cost you an arm and a leg just to get a permission to own a car let alone buying it. "

I think a car is not needed, since the public transportation is great. I lived in Berlin and I didnt have a car. I could use the public transportation (and I dont mean taxis!) any time and get home. Can I use the bus / metro to get from Atlantis hotel to Remraam at 3 in the morning on a Tuesday?

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