So I have been studying in Dubai for nearly three years now.

Here are a few observations I made along the way:


  1. New countries have a certain smell that takes a while to get used to (especially in malls and public transport)
  2. The sky does not look like the sky – too much dust and humidity
  3. If you lose something, it’s probably not lost so don’t panic
  4. Go check the last place you saw it – it will likely still be there (even if it is an iPhone or Laptop)
  5. If it’s not there, ask the nearest security guard, they’ll probably know where it is
  6. The malls are humongous and a must see
  7. There is a lot to do and buy (if your wallet is willing and you’re not on a student budget)
  8. Skimping on food purchases to buy clothes is bad for your health


  1. Try new foods when you have the chance
  2. They’re good sometimes and you might find your new favourite dish (Dates – the fruit – ‘nough said)
  3. If they don’t agree with you, you know what to avoid in future
  4. Just because you can order food online, it doesn’t mean you should
  5. You can only eat McDonalds so many days in a row before you start feeling sick
  6. Make that any kind of take-out food (sorry Subway I still love you though)
  7. Subway cookies are a gift
  8. Learning to cook a dish or two is a life saver – for your wallet and your waistline
  9. Even a sandwich or something (come on everyone can make a sandwich)
  10. Always pack snacks to class – else you will be banging on the vending machine before the end of the day
  11. Your bottle of water is your best friend (except during Ramadan)


  1. Finding the cheapest mode of transport available is essential to survival
  2. The bus/metro is much better(cheaper) than a taxi (if you live close to a stop and it’s not the summer)
  3. Invest in a Nol card and make sure you have cash to top up
  4. Sometimes taxis have a weird smell so take some perfume along (especially on those long trips to and from the airport)
  5. Taxis are not always around when you need them, so make sure you have alternate plans
  6. Uber is great (if you have Dad’s credit card)
  7. Get your driver’s license as soon as you can (and a car would be good too)
  8. Warning: getting your license is expensive so be prepared for lots of payments and a LOT of tests
  9. Petrol is super cheap in Dubai, so it’s worth it at the end


  1. Get a good data plan ASAP
  2. There is wifi in most public places but when you’re trying to get home, Google Maps is your bestie
  3. Skype works (most of the time)
  4. Whatsapp calls, Facetime and any other voice or video communication usually does not work

People and Customs

  1. There are people from all over the world in the UAE – Always have an open mind
  2. If you don’t know what “yallah” or “habibi” means, you soon will
  3. Be mindful of the rules of the new country – you don’t accidentally want to offend people or land up in jail
  4. Be respectful of all people and their customs – you will learn a lot so be prepared for a bit of culture shock
  5. If you wear shorts to uni, be prepared for stares (or you might not be let into class)
  6. Make sure you know when Ramadan is!


  1. Make friends on the first day of uni – it’s better to get lost with someone than alone
  2. Try your best to remember everyone’s names – when in doubt, add them on Facebook
  3. Introductions usually start with “Hi my name is ___ and I’m from ___ but I’ve been living in Dubai for ___ months/years”
  4. Don’t be surprised to hear at least 3 different languages being shouted across classrooms at any given moment
  5. You will make amazing friends that will teach you about the world


  1. Lecturers are also from various places so listen well during the first class to make sense of any unfamiliar accents


  1. Take the stairs when you can
  2. Trust me when you see those extra kgs popping up from all the McDs you will wish you took those stairs every day
  3. Take a jacket/hoody
  4. I know it’s hot outside but the A.C. is famously freezing in classrooms (and in malls for those who can afford to go)

Most importantly

  1. Dubai is part of a beautiful country
  2. It will start to feel like home before long


I hope this was helpful (and a bit amusing) to anyone who is new to Dubai.

Lots of love




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  1. Really enjoyed reading this! I had a good laugh and saw quite a few relatable moments, some that we actually shared – like number 31, HAHAHAHA!

    • Binx Thinx Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed it πŸ˜„ thank you for the feedback πŸ˜‚ I wrote this on a whim but maybe I’ll do more posts like this in future 😊

  2. Binx Thinx Reply

    Omg let’s not even get started on the frustrations of number 31 πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ hopefully they’ve sorted it out for good now πŸ˜’πŸ˜’

  3. Pingback: Road-trips and Ruffians – Binx Thinx Journal

  4. #3-5… so true…
    I think the only places where you’ll be able to find lost items are in Middle Eastern countries coz people are too scared of the consequences and Japan coz the Japanese are such honorable people. Besides that, it’ll be fair game anywhere. It’s just human nature.
    I was actually impressed when I found out about this. UAE (Dubai/ Abu Dhabi) was the first Middle Eastern country I’ve visited.
    This is a nice list you came up with.
    Namaste πŸ™

    • Binx Thinx Reply

      Yeah I was so surprised when people told their stories about finding laptops etc and the way everyone leaves their things lying around without giving it much thought πŸ˜‚ and thank you for the response πŸ’–
      Namaste πŸ™πŸ»

      • How I wish it was like that here in the US. Esp. with iPhones which is more expensive than some laptops and desktops. And you see kids in gradeschool carrying one. For real?!?!

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