|Born in Italy, raised in the Netherlands, Giovanni is now living in cosmopolitan Dubai in the Middle East. Here he shares his experiences and advice on things like the cost of living, finding a job in Dubai, and adapting to the Islamic culture.
-Where were you born?
-In which country and city are you living now?
United Arab Emirates, Dubai
-Are you living alone or with your family?
Alone, although my mum and stepfather live in the same city
-How long have you been living in Dubai?
Since May 2004
-What is your age?
Currently: 33 (birthday November 12 --> 34)
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Dubai?
Thanks to my parents I visited the city almost on an annual basis. I noticed that Dubai was economically growing and decided to move myself. Never regretted the decision as I got opportunities I could never dream about in my own country, The Netherlands.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
Not at all. Once I arrived I applied for a job every day and found one within a week. Once signing the contract, you'll receive a working permit that has to be renewed every 3 years. I am currently working in a Freezone, which gives you some extra benefits.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
The medical insurance is included with the contract, although there are different insurances! As I am working internationally, I demanded to have an international insurance too! However, it is advisable to get an additional insurance yourself that e.g. covers dental or for women 'maternity'....
-How do you make your living in Dubai? Do you have any type of income generated?
There are different opportunities to apply for a job. Dubai knows several job search engines on the Net, such as bayt.com and Monsterboard Middle East. Furthermore, all reliable job agencies have a website, where you have to register yourself. In additional, the biggest newspaper in Dubai, Gulfnews, publishes several job opportunities 3x a week.
After my first job in Dubai I found a job through a recruitment agency and within a day I could start my second job. Once you are established within the city, people will know you (depending on the job) and so I got headhunted for my current and third job. If you really want to find a job, you will get one in Dubai as the city keeps on growing!
-Do you speak Arabic and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
Not at all. Dubai is an expatriate city and everyone speaks English. Depending on the job you are looking for, Arabic is hardly required, although an advantage.
Working in an Islamic country however, does require respect and understanding. Therefore, there are dress codes and you will be advised to know something about Islam and the local culture. Shaking a woman's hand, for example, without knowing her, is out of the question, unless she holds out her hand first.
A great tool and guide to use before living in Dubai is the Dubai Explorer, which is for sale in bookstores all over the city. This guide gives you all the information that you need to know.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
I don't miss home at all! My family lives all over Europe and one of my brothers will actually move to Dubai this December too! Dubai is a pretty Westernized city and the only thing I miss about Europe is the fresh air! Good to know is that, according to the UAE law, expats are entitled to travel home at least once a year, paid by the company.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
Investing in real estate in Dubai is very interesting, as the profits are enormous! Furthermore, due to the location of the country, travelling to the Far East and Africa became more interesting, so I know that I will see more of the world!
My own future plans are changing daily, however, I am considering to move to the Far East myself one day.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
Most companies will provide you a housing allowance, although they do not always cover the real renting prices. Renting in Dubai isn't cheap and therefore you'll see more and more people buying a place. Depending on the place you live in Dubai, rents vary from 50,000 (one bedroom apartment) - 300,000 Dhs (villa) per annum (The Dirham is related to the US$, so 1 $ = 3.675 Dhs)
-What is the cost of living in Dubai?
Dubai is relatively cheap compared with European countries, although some things can be more expensive. However, you'll live here as a prince if you know how to deal with your money. Loans are offered easily, so be careful with that! In case you have a personal loan, but you got fired by the company, the banks will give you a short notice to pay back your money. In case you can't, you will be jailed and then deported after you pay the outstanding loan.
Fuel and cars are cheap and there is no road tax (except Salik, a new road toll you'll find at the main highway, the Sheikh zayed Road). Primary living costs are low. Nightlife can be more expensive, depending on alcoholic orders. In case you are living in Dubai, an alcoholic permit is needed to order and consume alcohol.
-What do you think about the locals?
They make money on us, so they are friendly. I don't blame them....
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Dubai?
Positive: Dubai is a fast growing city and you can benefit from it.
Negative: Not everyone understands that, although there is a Western influence, Dubai is and stays an Islamic city. This includes rules that have to be respected and unfortunately not everyone does that.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Dubai?
For the Dutch readers, please visit my website: http://giovanni.web-log.nl. For others, there are plenty of websites with info on living and working in the city.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Dubai?
Yes, as written above, http://giovanni.web-log.nl