What to Expect in Coming to Dubai?

DUBAI – a once vast desert turned into one major metropolis in the world. It’s the home of the tallest building on earth, the Burj Khalifa and the spectacular seven-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab. It attracted vast population of tourists and workers for sights of majestic and extraordinary structures and for a venture of a better life.

However, the decision of coming here takes a lot of thinking and discernment. Living and working abroad are NEVER easy. It takes a courageous mind and willing heart to be here and it DEMANDS 101% of your determination and drive. In my personal side, I was more than decided to come here for personal reasons. My drive was too strong that I was so willing to undertake all possible circumstances that would come my way, may they be good or not, I was more than eager to face them nevertheless.

When I got here in Dubai, I had several observations and personal experiences that I would like to share. Some of which were good experiences yet some of them were inevitably unpleasant. Since you are still home, enjoy and savor the comforts and security it has always guaranteed. It is exactly convenient and comfortable living abroad with all the technologies and lifestyle but there can never be any other place like home. I mean, seriously! Before coming here, please have second thoughts especially to those without families and relatives who are in here.

The ones that I will share don’t necessarily hold true to ALL. These are my personal observations and experiences and these hold true from the accounts of my very close friends. I hope that these will help those who are thinking of coming here in Dubai.

1. LIFESTYLE (as a whole)

  • Purchases are very convenient, you can pay thru cash or debit or credit cards.
  • I think all stores have card machines. You don’t have to withdraw and bring cash all the time.
  • There are too much malls and markets for shopping. Dubai mall makes me very tired. I have to walk a lot and I need days to fully examine the shops.
  • There are too much tourist attractions and too many packages to choose from. They are usually found online and in newspapers. I usually browse Groupon, Cobone, and HittheDeals. You can ask Tito Google for more.
  • If you like to buy something, almost everything’s online, you can pay online and items are mostly delivered at home or at work – HASSLE-FREE!!! Well, you can (of course) go to shops of your choice.
  • When you open accounts in banks, agents are the ones coming here in the office; everything’s provided, it’s always hassle-free. I remember when I was still working back home, I need to personally go to the bank and open my account. I needed to fill up bunch of papers and sign A LOT! I needed photocopies of all clearances and certificates and photos. Here, two signatures and my self are enough.
  • Loans are better. Usually, it’s 8%-11% interest per annum. You can really invest or save if you really want to. I have friends with a minimum salary of 5,000 dirhams who took bank loans and purchase house or lot (in cash) in the Philippines. Payment is on salary deduction for 3-4 years. The loan was used accordingly and it costs a million pesos already. If compared to Philippine lending centers, you can only get around two hundred thousand pesos of loan and pay for twenty five years! By the way, interest is around 36% – 40% per year! That’s really a headache!
  • “Sale” is almost everywhere and it’s happening most of the times.
  • Almost everything’s branded and you can easily get them. High-end brands back home are very expensive but these brands are usually not a big deal here ‘cause they are more affordable (just don’t convert it in peso).


  • Most cannot afford a house. Only “locals” or the rich guys can buy and own a property. If you have millions, then go.
  • We live in flats/condos/apartments. Everything has AC or else, we will die toasted during summer season. For OFW’s who are stable and who have good pay, they rent the whole flat and make themselves landlords to other Kabayans. Some who have family members, they also occupy the whole flat.
  • For common cases, many Kabayans here are having these “partitions” or “sharing” types of lodging. For instance, in 1 flat, 15 Kabayans are staying. It would be cheaper but they consider the consequences. In my case, I am staying alone in one partition. It is quite costly but I also consider our comfort, privacy and the location where I am staying.



  • If you’ll be lucky, you don’t need to commute every day. Some companies provide company vans or buses as part of the benefits.
  • Others go for “car lift” and just pay monthly.
  • Others go for buses and metro (train). Fare costs 3 dirhams one station away. Corresponding fees are based on how far you go to. For more info, just click this link.
  • If you don’t want the congested life in the Metro, some will opt to ride the more costly Dubai Taxi. (One funny experience with this was when I was still applying for a job. I couldn’t locate the company that I was headed to; thus, I called for a taxi. The driver argued and asked me to walk instead because the location I was telling was just a few kilometers away. Back home, taxi drivers would compete for customers but here, they wouldn’t really mind.)
  • If you’re settled already, it’s encouraged to buy a car. License is very technical and hard to obtain but once gained, it’s 10 years valid not only here in Dubai but in other countries as well. Cars are not so expensive and there are many offers of car loan depending on your budget and choice. Gas is cheap! Well… It only costs around 30-40 dirhams, full tank in a typical car.



  • Food is everywhere. Filipino groceries exist. They sell pork, beef and chicken. Here, we can even buy cheese curls, cheese wiz, piatos, tender juicy hotdogs, etc.
  • Varieties of food to try on: Indian, Italian, Pakistani, Filipino, Indonesian, name it all!
  • Food is generally cheap and affordable. You can buy 3 pieces of bread for only 5 dirhams. Note: Sizes here are times twooooo!!!



  • Brace yourself! You’ll meet the most ideal person from novels and the worst person ever created!
  • You just have to be here to see for yourself.



  • I say 80% is online application. Prepare your most impressive CV (Curriculum Vitae). For CV samples, you may browse here.
  • Companies will either call you thru mobile or send you an e-mail together with their location map for your scheduled interview.
  • Once your interview goes well, you’ll be hired right away.
  • Walk-in interview schedules are posted thru Facebook or sites but are rarely effective (as experienced).

TIP: You only have to be confident and sure of your answers. During the interview, they don’t really ask for your diploma and master’s degree papers. As long as you have the experience and the skills, then you’re good to go.



  • Annual Vacation: It can be annual or every 2 years, it depends on the company that you are employed with.
  • Airfare: Round-trip fare can be free. In other companies, only one way ticket is free. For some, nothing’s free, tickets are on salary deduction. So don’t be surprised or feel sad when some of your OFW friends cannot go home yearly. Tickets are expensive and expenses in there are huge (if you know what I mean).
  • Company: In our company, we are provided health insurance which can also be used in the Philippines. For good companies, they are systematic and organized. You only have to work within your description. For instance, in my company, there are six people in Accounts department. All works that concern about finances are divided accordingly. One does the payroll, the other does the payables, the other does the GRN (Good Receipt Notes), and the like. For some other small companies, one person does them all. If you would ask me how did I land on this company, I would say that it was through chance and A LOT of prayers. You can choose while applying for a job provided that you have much money for your daily expenses but always pray to land for stable companies and kind bosses.



For some ambitions which are not granted back home, you can pursue them here. For example, I am in dire of writing. I can go through classes here which will only take 1-3 days or few months. They’ll give me certificates then I’m good to apply as fresher on Media companies. I can write and publish my books and all. Of course, I need to present some outputs that prove my skills but the point is I don’t need to study for 4 years of journalism. I just have to attend these classes, show what can I do, and I’ll be hired.
Now, I like to share two sides:

The Not-so-good Side


  • Male
  • 26 years old
  • Graduate in Accountancy
  • with MBA
  • 3-5 year-experience as Accountant in PH

Applying for a job:

  • He has 1-month Tourist Visa (not extendable).
  • It took him too long to find a job.
  • He can land into another field like sales (being a salesman in a company or in a mall).
  • For some who wants to stay abroad, they’ll go for low-paid jobs. For those who want to quit, they go back home.

What is “exit”?

  • Once visa expires, he has to leave Dubai (we call it exit). Usually, exit is done in Kish Island, Iran or in Oman.
  • In this case, he had to exit in Kish Island.
  • Let’s say he is hired the last minute. His company told him that he has to exit in Kish for 4 days. But it was prolonged for a month. Yes, it happens! Worse, Kish has poor signal and you just can’t contact your friends in Dubai as often as possible.
  • When he comes back to Dubai, he is asked to pay for his exit thru salary deduction.

The Better Side


  • Male
  • 26 years old
  • Graduate in Accountancy
  • with MBA
  • 3-5 year-experience as Accountant in PH

Applying for a job:

  • 1-month Tourist Visa
  • He finds a job on the third week.
  • He will not extend anymore. If ever he extends for another month, his employer will shoulder all expenses.
  • His job is well-paid and is within his field of specialization.


  • He will just have AtoA exit. It means airport-to-airport exit. It is usually done in Kish and Oman. He has his employment visa already so he will just go out from Dubai and come back right after and show his employment visa to the Immigration Officer.
  • All expenses are shouldered by the company.

Imagine others who risk a lot by themselves without any families and friends here. Others did not survive but others became very successful. I think these explain almost everything here. Coming here takes your CHOICE, WILL, COURAGE and A LOT OF PRAYERS!!! 

“For one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” -Acts 17:26-27

If you are really determined, come and be positive. Greener pasture is promised. For those who doubt, pray and ask God for guidance. If Dubai is for you, it will be for you. If not, then it will never be.

This article is published by MM in Dubai on her personal blog last June 20, 2015.


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