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The Brutally Honest Guide to Moving to Dubai.

So, you've heard the stories, read the glossy pages and want to earn huge tax-free salaries!! Think carefully before leaping into it!

Remember the following (in no particular order):
1:It takes at least a year to settle down and start earning money here.
2:Accomodation is VERY expensive - read your contract carefully - who is paying for your villa and what is your budget. Electricity bills in summer are around Dhs1500 upwards! Per month! Out of your pocket?
3:Your wonderfully worded contract that you've just signed is worth NOTHING here (believe me). The only contract that is recognised is the Arabic/English Ministry of Labour contract, generally signed after you get here. Make SURE the conditions are what you expected or were promised. See a lawyer if in doubt.
4:Get yourself VERY settled before even thinking of bringing out the family.
5:Speak to as many UAE RESIDENT South Africans as you can BEFORE moving. Don't believe the 'I've got a friend in Dubai' people.
6:ANY doubts - rather move directly to Oz or UK.
7:You can't regard this as a place to settle down. You won't own your property and eventually everyone has to leave.
8:Be VERY careful who you work for. Speak to SA or European employees at the same firm if you can. If there aren't any, be even more careful. You WILL get screwed.
9:If you have a family, and really have to move here, then move into a compound. The social contact is essential. Your visa will take time to process, and only then can you get family visas, after which your spouse can get a driving licence. If you have a car.
10:If you inflict the isolation of flat living on your spouse (and family) keep it below the 4th floor. The 9th floor upwards are good for jumping. If you've spent your life in SA in a flat this possibly doesn't apply.
11:VERY important this - MEET PEOPLE! As many as you can. Even if you don't like them, you'll meet others and find friends. Also get contacts and contact numbers. The last thing you need is to be in trouble and not know anyone.
12:Be tolerant. All aspects of living here are different. If you're at all intolerant of different cultures then GO SOMEWHERE ELSE.
13:Bring as little as you can. If things don't work out you don't want everything you own to be here. You'll be responsible for getting it out.
14:Contact the SA Group when you get here. Even if you never go to meetings, keep them updated with your details. OK.
15:Re-read all the above - it is the truth.

I repeat here a clip from an SAW newsletter - it comes from Glen in Oz: As a pre-revolution emigrant from South Africa (28 years ago) I have been struck by the proliferation of ex-South African social clubs in the post-revolution years. As with other pre-revolution migrants I have spent some years assisting would-be migrants with information about migration requirements and with using the long-timer's network to point them towards job possibilities, arrival assistance etc....
One of these, now job-hunting in USA comments... "...went to a braai with the local South African club. Some very nice people, but of course everyone gave me their pet horror stories. I was struck by the general moroseness of the people and hope I don't end up that way..."
Glen continues: I have very mixed feelings about South African clubs. They have their part to play in helping migrants get over that initial loneliness, but I worry that they can easily become a crutch and be counter-productive in that they keep new migrants isolated from locals and keep them looking firmly backwards. Everyone should be aware of the long-timer's philosophy that "you can either cling to your past or embrace your future, but cannot do both."

I'll have to agree with everything that Glen says but as I say in point 11 above, meet people. Start off with the South African group and keep in contact, but don't limit yourselves. U.A.E. is a melting pot of world cultures, Brit, Oz, USA, Canada, French, German, Dutch... so meet people and get good contacts - you never know where you'll end up, and that Dutch couple you met here may be just the contact you need when you move on to Holland.