How To Survive in Dubai.


After my recent post of “How do you see yourself 5 years from now?“, I have received quite a few messages and comments from people living in Dubai. All of them were quite new to the sandpit (6 months to 1 1/2 years) and are having some second thoughts about their move here.

Well to tell you very honestly, I haven’t had a single doubt about my decision of moving here to Dubai. I love this city and I actually do enjoy it living here. I didn’t even feel that thing called “homesickness” since I arrived. Why? I don’t really know why, it’s not like I was living a miserable life in the Philippines. It’s just that I have more freedom here and I can actually live independently which I am unable to do back in the Philippines. Most of the expats living here are here to work. When you hear the word “tax-free” salary, who wouldn’t want to grab that opportunity?

Basically, this city is a transitional place. People come and go, some will leave after they’ve completed their work contracts or some will leave after they’ve accomplished what they wanted to achieve here – enough savings for their (early) retirement.

Dubai, like any other cities, has its own dirt though – that I know. I am not blundered by the glitzy and glamorous facade of this city, I am fully aware of what’s happening around me. While some people may have been given the chance of a lifetime and are living a very good life here, some aren’t so lucky and I feel for them. Really, I do. That’s how life goes though, right? I mean, it’s not only here in Dubai – it’s everywhere. So no matter where you are and no matter what you do, life can only either take you up or down and you’ll just have to deal with it the best way you can.

How to survive in Dubai? I’m no expert but here’s what I learned based on my experience of 6 years:


I admit, I fell into it. When I arrived in Dubai, I lived a very glamorized life because it was so new to me and I can’t believe that I can afford all these glitzy things in Dubai. I lived a life which is more than what I can afford, I maxed out two of my credit cards with 5-digit limits and I was on the verge of totally ruining the reason why I came here in the first place – to save enough money. This is probably the easiest way to put yourself in a miserable situation while in Dubai and it’s a mistake which almost everyone makes when they’ve just arrived here. People fall into the pit of credit cards and loans. Bank agents are practically waving all these luxuries right at your face but then, once you’ve fallen into the pit – you’re practically screwed. In Dubai, you can be jailed if you are unable to pay your bills. You are not even allowed to leave the country if you’ve got a huge amount of unpaid bills. Thankfully, I was able to get my act together before this even happens to me and was able to get myself out of debt. I lived a millionaire’s life in 2 years and paid for it for 4 years. Hahaha.


Remember that Dubai is a Muslim city, it’s actually very easy to forget that fact since it’s a very open city. Bars and clubs are everywhere for your daily dose of alcohol BUT you should drink moderately and make sure that you’ve got your alcohol license. They’re not very strict with your clothes since you’re not compelled to wear an abaya BUT dress decently. It’s not really rocket science to understand the fact that Dubai is very lenient and lets us live however we want to live, I think due respect to them must be given as well though in return.


Many people who live here as I have previously mentioned are mainly here to work but you’ve got to learn how to switch off your work mode and try to have a life outside of it. Dubai’s got a lot of activities for you to do so you should try and make the most out of it. Search for a hobby. I’m taking up ballet classes whenever I can as it’s my own way to de-stress myself. 🙂 You can join sports club or groups of people who share the same interest as you do. This link might help you get started: Dubai Meetups.


Living in Dubai on your own might already be too hard to handle for some, so you must surround yourself with positive people. Having people around you with too many unnecessary baggage in life will only make you miserable. I usually steer myself away from people who complain too much or are too negative about everything. Also, you must also learn that not everyone around you is your friend. I’ve experienced a lot of backstabbing from people with too many insecurities about themselves here in Dubai. Not to mention those people with a serious case of crab mentality at work. Yes, they are too many here. In my 6 years here, I can count with just one hand my REAL friends. In fact, I think apart from the boyfriend, I can only count on 3 people here whom I consider real friends. The rest are just acquaintances. 🙂


I warn you, it’s the survival of the fittest here. Dubai is a fast-paced city and you should be able to get onboard quickly else, you’ll always be left out. I’m not only talking about work but life in general. Although, being strong, quick and the best at work is very important too (specially that part of being the best) because you’ve got a lot of competition here. Competition from all over the world. In general though, being strong also means being healthy – the weather is extremes as you may already know. It can go as hot as 45 degrees Celsius and as cold as probably 12 degrees Celsius, coming from the Philippines – those temperatures are extreme for me. Haha. Being quick also means you’ve got to be able to keep up with the changes in Dubai. It can be as simple as the roads around the city and the infrastructures. Dubai never stops changing, a familiar road today might be closed tomorrow. An empty lot today might have a skyscraper next month. Time is money. Time is gold. You’ve got to keep up with it. Keep up or be left out. 🙂

Those are 5 tips I can think of on how to survive Dubai. I’m not even sure if it makes sense but it does to me. 🙂

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  • Sandipa March 7, 2016 at 21:54

    Hi there your article brought back the positive vibe as to why I should take the offer as a supervisor in a spa, I was given for a two year contract in Dubai As I’ve read a lot of articles of more bad than good that dampened my spirit. i pray it all works out for me. Leaving my friends and family behind in South Africa I hope it is worth it. 🙂

    • Pinay Flying High March 10, 2016 at 07:41

      Thank you for the kind words and I wish you all the best in Dubai. 🙂

  • artee318 January 17, 2015 at 18:56

    Very nice article kabayan haha, and nice timing too. I’m planning to move either to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Been in Saudi, currently in Doha hopefully UAE this year. It’s a never ending search for the other end of the rainbow. 🙂

    • Pinay Flying High January 18, 2015 at 09:26

      All the best Artee. I am currently in Doha, just moved here 3 weeks ago. 🙂 Missing Dubai.

  • dubaiofw January 10, 2014 at 02:45

    It was a challenge for me to save in the first six months as those times were all about paying loans and debts to arrive in Dubai. Now I’m starting to save little by little. After a year! hehe.

    I can totally relate to the “Glam” that Dubai has. Very tempting because of so many “offers” and big discounts that we don’t get back in our home country. But yes, I guess it will wear out once we know why we’re here for in the first place. 🙂

    • Pinay Flying High January 10, 2014 at 09:20

      Unfortunately I fell into the “glam”. Fortunately, I realized I was being stupid. Lol.

  • Palo November 1, 2013 at 00:39

    Would love to visit Dubai; it is defiantly on my place to go and visit list.

  • Mary August 18, 2013 at 18:04

    Tips to live by! 2yrs in dxb now, and still learning.. 🙂

    • Pinay Flying High August 19, 2013 at 00:58

      Thank you Mary. I hope everything’s going well for you, 😉

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    Welcome to my blog! My name is Noemi, a Filipina who caught the travel bug at an early age and has never been cured. I blog about travel, food and my extraordinary mundane life in London with the Greek Mister.

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