20 Common Problems In Dubai

20 Common Problems In Dubai

Being a new emigrant in the stunning city, Dubai is indeed to get excited about! But, after residing here for a short time, you start to face things that just wouldn’t happen elsewhere in the world. If you have seen Mission: Impossible 4 – Ghost Protocol, you will have a pretty good idea of at least one of the aspects of living in Dubai. Despite the tax breaks, swathes of fancy restaurants and more bars than you can ever drink at in a lifetime, it’s not always fun and games for expats living in the playground of the rich. If you’re lucky enough to have a well-paid, tax-free job and have settled into life in Dubai, before long you’ll experience a few problems that diverge from the feeling of perfection. Here are some 20 common problems in Dubai, you will definitely face when living here.

You have to Work on Sundays

One of the first things every expat living in Dubai has to come to terms with is the new weekend. Unlike Western countries that have their weekends on Saturday and Sunday, Dubai has its weekends falling on Friday and Saturday. While the seasoned expat undoubtedly gets accustomed to this change within a few weeks, the new comers get confused assuming that Sunday is the day of rest. Adding to the frustration, the alarm goes off in the morning when they need to get up and go to work. Nonetheless, on the positive side, at least the weekend is 2 days long. So once you have adjusted, your life can be resumed pretty much as it was before arrival in Dubai. To put in a better way, the best part is that you’ve already undergone the first day of work while your friends back in your home country are perhaps still grudging about Monday.

Freezing Inside while Temperatures Soar Outside

Temperature outside increases so fast that it can ultimately drain your energy at an alarming rate. Of course, you cannot fight with nature. But once you get used to the temperature outside and then you step into the office, you will be shocked to feel the cold shivers of the Artics. Guess what? It’s freezing! Simply surrender to AC wars when you work in an office in the UAE.


Getting Trapped In A Mall

For many residents, one of the most popular methods to escape the intense Dubai heat is to take shelter in one of the many air conditioned malls. It’s a better way to cool down and do a bit of shopping at the same time. But on the contrary, some of the malls in Dubai depict a little on the larger side. Dubai boasts of the world’s largest mall featuring over 600 retail outlets, dwarfing anything you would find in the US or UK. All of which is great if you’re a shopaholic but not so good if shopping really isn’t your cup of tea and you’ve been dragged along against your will. While the news pertaining to the man who was lost in a mall for several months might not have been true, yet the satire does exist for a reason. Just spend a few hours in any Dubai mall and you will sometimes feel like you’re trapped for eternity in a Kafka-esque corporate nightmare.

You’re Confused by All the Superlatives

Dubai, specifically, is an abode to superlatives with the world’s tallest tower, tallest hotel, longest gold chain, largest sweet shop, longest driverless metro network, and many more Guinness World Records to refer to. Those who visit seem to think you have a mental list of all of them.

Trying to Sleep with Construction Noise

Change is predestined here in Dubai. Imagine you arrive in the city and see an quite an empty lot, then all of a sudden one day a building pops up. Not to forget the construction site and the constant noise all in between. One of the remarkable things about Dubai is undoubtedly the architecture. The city ranks among the impressive looking futuristic cities in the world. It boasts of not only the world’s tallest skyscraper but also hundreds more that look far more impressive than anything seen in most metropolises. With Dubai constantly expanding, however, it’s inevitable that you’ll come across skyscrapers still under construction. In fact, if you were to drive around the coastal strip for a couple of hours and count those unfinished you’d probably run out of fingers shortly after your journey begins. In reality, living in a city which is constantly expanding makes you feel like you’re living on a building site, where construction never actually ceases.


Finding your Car at Any Parking Lot

This is one of the most common problems in Dubai. You reach your location 3 miles away after an hour’s drive and now you can’t find parking. What a mess! And finally when you have found a parking place, they demand your index finger as payment. Here is the worse thing. Your car may be parked at a legal spot or at any parking meter and you find out that there will be someone parked just a quarter inch behind you. You are sure to get boxed in. You are bound to get fined if you are the meter. Other than this, the local Muslims abandon their cars no matter where ever they are during prayer time. Of course religion is very important, but show some courtesy please? What if that car is parked just outside your driveway blocking your access? As now you have been warned, always remember to write or to take a picture of your parking spot, lest you want to suffer for hours.

Barrage of Massage Cards

Park your car for a few minutes and you’ll get a crazy amount of business card-sized adverts from massage parlours or ‘health spas’ slipped into your car window or placed under your car door.

The Hair-Raisingly Bad Drivers

There isn’t any country in the world that doesn’t have its fair share of bad drivers. Very true! Dubai has its own rules when it comes to surviving on the roads. The most apparent problem is drivers in Dubai drive as fast as possible at any given opportunity. No doubt this is generally counted on those driving huge muscle cars or sleek, ultra-fast sports cars. Whatever the reason, even the frequent speed cameras do little to make driving in Dubai any less hair-raising. Needless to say Dubai has more than its fair share of traffic-related fatalities. In fact, the Dubai police had to call on members of the public to help them track down violators, introducing a Smartphone app titled, “We are all the police”.

Keep Up With The Ever-Changing Roads

One of the reasons for Dubai’s traffic being so dangerous is owing to the changing roads. As the city is constantly growing and expanding, the roads are constantly changing too in order to accommodate the new districts. This eventually makes many drivers confused as to where they are actually supposed to be heading. Sometimes you can find new roads in areas where you can least expect. Other times pre-existing roads simply change their names, leading to whole new levels of head scratching confusion. Often there are no official announcements to help people figure out where they should be driving, so it’s a case of figuring things out on the fly – no wonder rush hour traffic leads to so many accidents.

Traffic& Congestion

Ever wondered how small Dubai is? It’s smaller than the smallest state in USA. To your surprise, population is expected to cross 4 million by 2020. Add to this the millions of tourists all year long and you have the perfect recipe for a disaster- traffic & congestion. It can take over an hour for a mere 2-3 mile commute in Dubai. Sad thing is, you cannot even avoid the rush hour if you want to do the normal things like everyone else does at normal hours. With a ton of construction going on all year long, new roads pop up everywhere. However, the high increase in vehicle rates on Dubai roads, non stop Dubai tourism flow and more people moving to Dubai every year has completely and significantly outpaced the growth in infrastructure. There are over a million vehicles on Dubai roads. If each vehicle makes just one trip a day to and from, you are looking at over 2 million vehicles to and from. If each vehicle makes 2 trips on average (very common), now you are talking over 4 million vehicles on limited road space. The city almost needs to take a year or two break and shut itself down until it can solidify its infrastructure enough to accommodate for all things and people.

Confusing or Entirely Missing Addresses

If the ever-changeable roads didn’t already make it difficult enough to navigate your way around the skyscrapers of Dubai, the lack of clear postal addresses is guaranteed to keep you truly on your toes. While the city is continuously under construction as it continues to fill in every available plot of land on the thin coastal strip new addresses are constantly being added. Unfortunately a lot of the time no one gets round to giving these new roads a name, so trying to find somewhere becomes a game of “spot the nearest identifiable landmark” as you shout down the phone to the delivery man. On the plus side, Dubai certainly has its fair share of interesting and unique skyscrapers to act as a handy guide to figuring out where you are. Fortunately the UAE authorities are making significant efforts to improve the situation and have introduced a “revolutionary” new method of identifying locations: signs.

Suffering The Endless Red Tape

Dealing with red tapism is never much fun and moving to a foreign country where English is neither the primary spoken nor the written language brings with it endless challenges of its own. Though most of the countries worldwide are hardly eminent for their bureaucratic efficiency, Dubai can be challenging for all expats trying to settle into their new lives. From renting and purchasing property and setting up a business to getting the kids to school and opening a bank account, there are countless instances where the notorious red tape will rear its head in Dubai. Cutting through the red tape in Dubai is such a mammoth task that there are even a range of books available to help you negotiate the minefield.

The Distinct Lack Of Nature

It is normally assumed that most of the people in Dubai tend to live high up in apartment blocks. The night time view out of the window can be fantastic indeed with miles of illuminated buildings receding into the distance. However, on ground level, the picture is not always so pretty. Since Dubai is built on desert terrain, thanks to the advances in engineering, it’s home to a couple of million people. But since it is a desert there’s no escaping the fact that things are a little bit, well, sandy. The municipal planners have done a pretty good job of adding plenty of palm trees to brighten things up a bit, but for the expat used to the rolling lush green countryside of Britain, the lack of nature can get a little depressing.

The Flamboyant Display Of Wealth

It only takes a short while after arriving in Dubai for the first time for one particular word to spring to mind is money! From the extravagant skyscrapers twisting and turning while illuminating everything around them to the profusion of European sports cars and American muscle cars, everything about Dubai screams abundant wealth. Initially, there is a great deal of novelty to be had from these displays of wealth, but gradually with time, seeing a Lambo here or a golden Bentley there becomes somewhat common sights. On top of this, observing that Dubai is the playground of the rich, many people are more than willing to show off their gadgets in a manner that it is often boastful and occasionally gloating. No wonder the rich people are proud of their wealth and like to put it on display at every given opportunity, but after some time these ostentatious displays tend to come across as rather crass and unnecessary. This is one of the most common problems in Dubai.

Spending All Your Tax Savings On A New Luxury Lifestyle

One of the most appealing aspects of living in Dubai for Westerners is the lack of taxation on income, making those well-paid job offers incredibly appealing for those fortunate enough to be presented with one. On the contrary, living in Dubai definitely isn’t cheap. Accommodation in Dubai can be very pricey. While there is an abundance of choice when it comes to eating out in the city, often the prices tends to filter out those on lower income (eating a sumptuous three course meal surrounded by an enormous aquarium comes with a high price tag). On the plus side, since there are so many restaurants competing for your business there are always plenty of good offers on, while fuel costs make getting around very affordable. It’s the least you’d expect from living in one of the most oil-rich regions on the planet.

The Outrage Of Poor Customer Service

Once you have fully settled in Dubai and have managed to set up your home and business life so that it runs smoothly it’s tempting to assume that life will now run without any real problems. For one thing, there’s no more red tape to to deal with! Unfortunately, problems don’t end even when the red tape stops rolling. Dealing with customer service can prove to be every bit as nightmarish as dealing with the authorities. Whether it’s ordering a take away or trying to book a helicopter tour, if something can go wrong then the chances are it will. People living in Dubai certainly aren’t the only people in the world to have to suffer poor customer service, but many companies there seem to have made sinking to low standards into something of an art form.

Gaining Weight

This one is slightly tongue and cheek however putting on weight in Dubai happens to almost everybody who arrives in the city. In UK, expats call it the Dubai Stone. It’s quite hard to imagine in a hot climate where you’re constantly doing outdoor activities that you can let yourself put on weight. This happens because of the fast food and delivery habits in Dubai. Every restaurant in the city delivers including McDonalds. Another factor for putting on weight is the drinking/brunch habit, very common among expats.

Brunch Hangovers

Friday might mark the beginning of the weekend for most people in the Western world, and the same is the case for expats living in Dubai – except, since their weekend technically begins when they finish work on a Thursday it means they get to hit the bars as soon as they open for a full day’s session. The Friday Brunch is something of a legendary past-time for expats living in Dubai, with countless restaurants and bars competing to offer the best all-inclusive deal for the Western party animal. With Moet champagne on tap and an eat-and-drink-as-much-as-you-like ethos, it’s the perfect occasion to indulge in a spot of wanton food gorging and unbridled alcoholism. The next day is when you pay the price, and the brunch hangover is almost as commonplace as the Friday Brunch, even if it is nowhere near as popular. Saturdays are best spent on the couch, catching up on TV and cooling off under the air conditioning. And possibly vomiting a lot!

Just Melting All The Time

Since Dubai is located on the coast, the intense heat in the city is matched with raging humidity. This often leads to constant outpouring of sweat from even the smallest motion. To put in simple words, holidaying in Dubai during the summer months is not a good idea. If you wish to spend your time outdoors without being transformed into a lobster, come to Dubai in the cooler months. Much to your relief, literally everywhere is fully air conditioned. This also explains why some of Dubai’s malls have nearly a million people passing through their doors on a weekly basis. Of course, if it all gets too much you can pack up and easily move back to your home country and soak in the unpredictable weather and occasional rainy days. As an alternate, a dip in the swimming pool is also a better way to cool off.

Paying Rent Cheques Upfront

You might get stressed out thinking how your savings have drained out in a few months after your first move to Dubai. Amazingly, in Dubai, there is still an enormous over supply of properties. With the greed of landlords, their demand to make back their money from the property purchase and lack of trust in the market with payments, most of the landlords will want one or two cheques upfront to rent a property. The more cheques you wish to pay in installments, the higher the cost will be. Sometimes you can also save for a whole year to have this money taken away in one 12 months rent cheque.


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  1. Massage cards are one of the most annoying things in Dubai. When kids ask what these cards are for, it is very embarassing to explain all the scantily clad women to kids. And, in some areas like TECOM, massage cards are placed to cover the entire driver side in just a couple of hours of parking. While govt cracks down often, the massage card ninjas continue to cause havoc on cars.

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