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How to Adapt to Living in Dubai as a Single American Woman

Are you moving to Dubai as a single American woman? If YES, here is a detailed guide on how to adapt to living in Dubai as an American Woman and what it cost.

Apart from her flag being designed by a high school student, America is globally known for one thing- Freedom, no wonder she is fondly called the Land of Liberty. However, if you are an American woman nursing the thoughts of living in Dubai, there are some information you need to know. This information is by no chance meant to alter your decision, but to let you know what to expect over there.

Why Move to Dubai?

Over the years, the middle east has been emerging as one of the most preferred destinations for travellers. And with the number of job opportunities the city offers, many Americans, especially women have been trooping there. Good roads, stable electricity, beautiful atmosphere, and top-quality amenities, Dubai is undoubtedly a beautiful place to live. However, living there, you will need to adhere to some specific rules to avoid being deported or even arrested.

14 Questions Women Ask When Moving to Dubai?

Dubai is a beautiful place with strict rules. This article will provide an answer to some vital questions to make sure your stay is a peaceful and enjoyable one. These questions include:

  1. What can I wear?
  2. Can I shop for designers?
  3. Do they have American food?
  4. Are there any delicious street food?
  5. Can I take pictures of the local women?
  6. Can I kiss in public?
  7. Can I get pregnant outside of wedlock?
  8. Is abortion allowed?
  9. What is their view on miscarriages?
  10. Can I report domestic abuse?
  11. Can I sunbathe on the beach?
  12. How can I connect with other Americans?
  13. Can I make Friends?
  14. How can I avoid getting Lost

How to Adapt to Living in Dubai as a Single American Woman

  • What to Wear

Flesh exposing outfits are highly prohibited in Dubai. However, Dubai does not coerce its foreign female residents to dress similarly as their local women. In other words, they won’t allow you to wear full burka veils or hijab headscarves.

But as an American woman, you will need to be mindful of what you wear while living in Dubai. For example, if you live in LA and you usually go to the grocery shop wearing a short and camisole, you must not wear that in Dubai, except you want the locals (especially men) to start staring at you. Anything too short or that exposes too much of your skin is highly frown at, most especially during daytime. You may be insulted or even harassed by locals.

  • Shopping Habits

One of the significant differences between an American Woman and a Woman in Dubai is their shopping habits. Dubai does not have a bulk-buy store like Costco. Instead, you can try a Wal-Mart substitute such as Geant or Carrefour.

If you are a lover of designer clothing, you will have to forget about that. I know it will be hard, but after a while, you will be able to cope because most of the top designs in the US are not available in malls in Dubai. However, if your life depends on it, you can ship them over.

There are tons of websites that display the price of what you are buying in dirhams (Dubai currency), so you will have an exact idea of what you are spending. A piece of advice about shopping: know what you’re buying, or thoroughly read the returns policy. The stores in Dubai are transparent and consumer-friendly especially as a foreign customer, changing her mind.

  • American Food

For the past decades, tons of American food chains and restaurants have spread their wings to the middle east, most especially Dubai. Macaroni and Cheese? Of course! Chicken Fried Steak? You bet! Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich? It is there Ma’am! Here is one information that would make you smile: You can see a Starbucks on almost every street in Dubai.

  • Street Food

There is so much joy about street food in Dubai. With tons of classy restaurants with exotic dishes to impress Dubaians, their love for street food never dies. If you are planning on living in Dubai and you want to know more about their culture and sense of taste, you need to try the street food. The street food in Dubai is affordable and would give your taste bud a pleasant experience. Some of the most common street foods are:

  • Shawarma
  • Karak and Fried Donuts
  • Samboosa
  • Manakish
  • Shish Tawouk Sanwhich

Be Careful With your Camera

If you are a photographer who loves to take shots of how the locals dress and probably upload on your Instagram or Facebook page, do not attempt even pressing the shutter, you could find yourself behind bars or slapped with a hefty fine.

Taking pictures of local women in Dubai is dangerous even if the woman permits you. So if you are an American woman with a passion for photography, you may find it hard to keep your passion burning in Dubai, unless the authorities give you the green light.

  • No Kissing or Smooching in Public

Dubai takes a strict view on the way a woman should express herself with regards to clothing, so it should not surprise you to know that they frown at public display of love. Many of the things American women overlook while they are in a relationship or going out on a romantic date for the evening can put you in serious trouble in Dubai. Cuddling, kissing and holding hands is unacceptable in public. Failing to adhere to the rules will get you behind bars.

In a case in 2007, Unmarried lovers from india were sentenced to one year in prison. Why? They were kissing in the back of a cab. Having spotted them from the mirror, the driver drove them to the police station.

  • Cohabiting is Not Allowed

In Dubai, if you are found to be living with your sweetheart and you guys are yet to tie the knot, you both can face more than three years in jail or get deported immediately.

  • Getting Pregnant Outside of Wedlock

True love they say has no boundaries so if you are a single American woman; you never can tell what’s in the card- Your Mr. Right might be somewhere in Dubai. However, when you find the love, you need to be very careful not to get pregnant and give birth without getting married. Giving birth outside of wedlock will lead to deportation.

  • Abortion is Illegal

Abortion is undeniably still a hot topic in America, with many American women battling discrimination from religious bodies and even their family for going through an abortion. But in Dubai, carrying an unwanted pregnancy and giving birth may seem like the best option when you find out the severely harsh criminal charges you may have to face when you have an abortion.

In the UAE as a whole, abortion is a criminal offense whether through rape or not and any women found guilty may face a year in jail and fined something in the neighbourhood of $3000.

  • Miscarriages are Perceived as an Abortion

If you think you are safe with miscarriage when you get pregnant outside wedlock, then you need to think again. In Dubai, women are severely punished for losing their baby. Nuts. For example, if a woman suffered a miscarriage and visited the hospital for treatment, she will be accused of attempted abortion especially if she is unmarried. Dubai may look a beautiful and modern, but this worrying truth alone is enough to make any woman erase the thought of living there.

  • Domestic Abuse Cases are Not Taken Seriously

In Dubai, husbands have the right to chastise their wife or kids as a kind of disciplinary punishment, so far there are no visible marks after the punishment. Emotional Scars? Trauma? They don’t care.

  • Goodbye to Sunbathing

If you enjoy an all-over tan while on the beach, Dubai is a place where such a thing is prohibited. According to the law in Dubai, topless sunbathing or any form of public nudity is unacceptable. If found guilty you may have to pay a hefty fine.

  • Connecting with Other Americans

To help you feel more comfortable and shove off the nostalgic feeling, you can get in touch with other Americans living in Dubai. There are several ways to do it. You can check out Facebook for groups that have Americans In Dubai.

  • Making New Friends In Dubai

Nobody is an island so you will need to make new friends. Making Friends in Dubai is hard but not impossible- you need to know how to do it, so how is it done? Here are helpful ways:

  • Leave your house: As simple as this may seem, many people find it difficult to leave the comfort of their new home because they are shy or want to avoid awkward conversations with a neighbor. Well, if you are going to make friends, you need to leave your house and take a walk in the park, read a novel at the coffee shop or join a book club. If you have some cash, you can register at a gym rather than sweating it out on your living room floor.
  • Ask your friends: Call your friends and ask them if they know anybody in Dubai. If they do, ask for their contact and get into touch with them. Although you may think this is a bit too desperate: don’t worry they understand your situation and know exactly how it feels to be lonely.
  • Get to know your co-workers: Grab lunch with your co-workers often. By doing so, you will get closer to them as the day goes by. If you have some spare cash, you can buy them lunch – this will surely make them fond of you, and they would start inviting you to their house.
  • Go on friend dates: Try and overcome your shyness and be bold. Walk up to any person you like and with a smile, say “Hello, I am new, and I have a friend-crush on you, do you mind having lunch with me or something another day? He/she would understand you and would be ready to be your friend.
  • Attend cultural events: It won’t cost you much, and most times it is free. Art exhibition and social gathering may seem unimportant to you, but they are the tickets to meeting people Dubai thereby making new friends. However, be cautious of your dressing.

Getting Lost

Getting lost in Dubai happens to almost every newcomer. Here are some tips you can use to prevent yourself from getting lost:

  • Ask for direction: To avoid getting lost, it is advisable you meet locals and ask for direction rather than roaming around for hours thinking you will find your way home. No one is above getting lost, even the locals get lost too, so swallow your pride and ask the locals for direction before you wander off into a dangerous zone.
  • Pay attention to landmarks: It is vital to recognize key landmarks like pubs, hotels, street names, churches and schools in a city you are unfamiliar with. It is advisable to use your smartphone to take pictures of these landmarks. However, do not finish the juice on your phone battery by taking random photos.
  • Follow the crowd: If you are yet to learn the dialect of the city you newly moved to, always follow the crowd when it is rush hour. Following the crowd will lead you to a major bus stop. At the bus stop, you can ask about where you want to go. If you are lucky, you may see someone who speaks your language and is willing to help you.

Think Twice

Dubai law is fierce with regards to women’s rights. Is your mind already made up? If yes, then you will need to brace yourself. As an America woman, you are free like a bird but have it in mind that when you start living in Dubai, your wings will be clipped.