Living in the UAE
Over the past few years, the UAE has become a very popular tourist destination, as well as a bucket-list destination for adventurous teachers. Before jumping on a plane to head over there, you'll most likely do some research to get any outstanding questions answered. It's important to learn things about the area, the locals, and the culture before throwing yourself into such a new experience.
Where is the UAE located?
The UAE is located in the Southeast Arabian Peninsula, and it's bordered by Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south. The United Arab Emirates is composed of 7 emirates: Abu Dhabi (the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Each emirate is governed by a separate absolute monarchy, and this may or may not come as a big surprise to you, depending on where you're coming from.
The UAE has a population of 9.2 million with an estimated 7.7 million expats living in its borders. The official language in the UAE is Arabic, but English is widely spoken amongst professionals and in the education field.
UAE Weather & Climate
In the UAE, it's always very warm, even in the winter. It has a subtropical climate where it reaches around 17 degrees Celsius in the morning, and the temperature typically hits around 30+ degrees Celcius by midday. This changes depending on the season, but the temperature very rarely drops below 15 or so degrees Celcius. To sum all of this up, be prepared for an extended summer compared to wherever you're coming from.
If you’re interested in the local media, don’t worry. Traditional media outlets such as newspapers and radio are published in Arabic, English, Urdu and other languages for the expat community. The Khaleej Times, Gulf News, Gulf Today, and Emirates Today are all English published newspapers.
Things to consider
Non-Muslims are the only people allowed to consume alcohol in the UAE. Consuming alcohol is only allowed in licensed areas: Bars, restaurants, club and private venues. In order to drink alcohol in your home, expats have to apply for an alcohol license with their resident permit. There is a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving. The minimum drinking age is 18.
Be sure to bring a doctor’s note if you’re bringing prescription drugs from your home country. Be sure to alert the authorities before you arrive as well.
Public decency laws
Sexual relationships outside of marriage are strictly illegal. Dancing in public is considered indecent. It’s only allowed in clubs or in the privacy of your home. It's illegal to take pictures of the military, airport or government installations in the emirate so don’t think of Snapchatting once you arrive.
Behaving aggressively, cursing, spitting or using offensive language can result in jail time. Smoking is only allowed in permitted areas. Kissing, hugging and public displays of affection are against the law. It's fine for a married couple to hold hands in public, but anything else isn’t tolerated.
The first working day of the week in the UAE is Sunday and the weekend is over on Saturday. Most of the government and public offices are closed on Saturday.
Common activities include hot air balloon tours, 4x4 adventures through the desert, and camping overnight with some camels by your side.
If you’re really interested in architecture, you will be amazed by some of the world’s most beautiful structures in the UAE. Some structures to see: Burj Al Arab, the world’s 3rd tallest hotel, Dubai has the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and the Dubai mall is infamously known for having the only Ski resort inside the desert within it.
Yes, the UAE is in the desert but the country has plenty of things to keep you cool. All buildings have A/C as well there are a number of water theme parks: Aquaventure Waterpark, Dolphin Bay, Wild Wadi Waterpark, Marina Beach and more. Abu Dhabi has a list of activities to do as well: Emirates Palace, Yas Marina Circuit, The Corniche, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Al Ain National Museum.
Life in the UAE will definitely be different than western countries, but that what makes it an adventure. As a teacher, you’ll be in one of the most competitive and sought-after countries. Your decision to teach and live in the UAE will be rewarded in your lifestyle. From the desert to beaches, UAE has plenty to offer and a life-changing experience is one of them. Be sure to contact us at Teaching Nomad on how you can teach in the UAE.