Dubai is doubtlessly one of the most fascinating corners of the world, containing some of its most impressive properties and a large number of wealthy people from all over the globe. Learning what daily live and travel inside of Dubai is like can be frustrating for outsiders, however, and there's much misinformation and propaganda which can mislead you in one direction or another.
What's does life in Dubai look like when you peer beyond the curtain, and what does its foreseeable future hold? Here's what it's really like to live and work in Dubai.
Dubai is a glittering city
One thing can be safely said about Dubai - the city is a glittering masterpiece of construction work, with fantastic public works projects dotting the desert landscape in such a way as to turn the entire region into a sparkling tribute to human engineering. Dubai is home to some of the most impressive buildings in the world, including the famous Burj Khalifa, and anyone who visits, lives, or works in Dubai will doubtlessly find themselves impressed with the state of infrastructure and development in the area.
That's not the full story, however, and it's worthwhile to ask how Dubai go to where it is today. Just a few decades ago, Dubai was economically struggling and seldom if ever seen as an attractive destination for foreign investment. Dubai's historic rise to prominence was ignited by clever planners who understood that if they turned the area into a hub of foreign investment, they would be able to reap the rewards. The result was the exploitation of foreign labor and a slew of human rights abuses which enabled such towering construction projects to be completed on-time and under-budget.
The United Nations and innumerable human rights watchdog groups have raised serious concerns about Dubai, especially when it comes to migrant workers who are brought in en masse to complete construction projects. Any conversation centered around the future of Dubai must make room for discussions centered on the ongoing exploitation of workers that makes such a glittering landmark of engineering a possibility in the first place. Nevertheless, transparency groups continue to note that Dubai's impressive level of economic development gives it the ability to afford a bureaucracy which can clamp down on corruption and other negative crimes.
The UAE has one of the best corruption ratings in the Middle East, for instance, meaning it's a less-corrupt area than many nearby destinations. This may not be the best superlative to add to the area's resume, yet it's nonetheless worth pointing towards when considering your future in the area. Outside of corruption and labor concerns, the actual day to day life in Dubai for expats can be exciting and dotted with
Don't expect Western culture
It should go without saying that you can't expect Dubai to be dominated by Western culture, yet the fact that the city is populated by so many expats leads many to believe that it's an insular hub of Western influence in the Middle East. In reality, Dubai has its own unique culture and customs and shouldn't be viewed as an area entirely similar to the West. Those who enjoy a thriving nightlife will be disheartened to learn that alcohol is harder to come by in Dubai, for instance; alcohol is not entirely banned, as many people wrongly assert, but it's substantially harder to come by and largely unwelcome in public spaces. On the bright side, tourists and residents don't have to worry nearly as much about drunk drivers or public debauchery that stems from having one too many drinks at the bar.
Places like Al Marjan Island offer stunning views and incredibly well-developed living spaces, too, so the quality of the property you'll find in Dubai is certainly unimpeachable. Foreigners who hope to make Dubai their home must nonetheless understand that you must accept and immerse yourself into the local culture, as you can't expect others to change their ways merely to tolerate your presence. For women in particular, this can be a negative facet of living or visiting Dubai; conservative clothing is highly recommended, and it would be fundamentally false to assert that you can expect gender equality within the city. While some people accurately note that Dubai has more liberal attitudes towards women and the LGBT community than many neighboring areas, that's quite a low standard to hold one's self to.
Religious occasions like Ramadan are obviously quite important in Dubai, so you should immerse yourself in the local culture and customs before taking the plunge and investing in property there. A short visit or work stint is another question, however, though learning some Arabic will always help you when it comes to travelling in the area. Living and working in Dubai can be an exciting experience that grants you the opportunity to witness some of humankind's greatest feats of engineering, yet cultural differences and human rights concerns must be carefully navigating by outsiders heading into Dubai.