Two Weeks in Dubai: Random Things Learned

Just over two weeks in Dubai.

I am still looking for work. I suspect it will take a little bit of time for me to find the job I’m looking for.

I have my Master’s degree in Counseling and am licensed in both Maryland and Massachusetts. In the States you are not allowed to call yourself a Psychologist, unless you have a doctorate, even though you do the same work in therapy as a Psychologist does (you’re just excluded from doing psych testing). Here in Dubai you can be a Clinical Psychologist with a Master’s. So, that will be my title: Clinical Psychologist.

Also, today I just started looking into doing some acting work.

Life here is very similar to life in the States, in many ways. The United Arab Emirates is a lose federation of seven states (or emirates) on the Persian Gulf. Though, technically, it is an Islamic nation (I guess), it is very modern and liberal in comparison with its neighbors Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, etc. Though you see women who choose to cover themselves completely, you also see women dress in typical American or European style– bikinis are abundant on the beach.

The roads here are very well done. The buildings and malls are all much more modern than those in the States. Dubai Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall and The Mall of the Emirates are three of the best examples.

However, some of the regular streets look more run-down than the average American city street. The amount of dust in a desert city contributes sometimes to a “dirty” look to the American eye. Also, it’s taken me this long to realize– there are no homeless people here on the city streets.

Some differences with the States are very apparent. Instead of a church on every corner, there is a mosque on every corner. The call to prayer over the loud speaker in the mall is different. Having a prayer room in the mall is different. There are no liquor stores and the only places that are allowed to serve alcohol are restaurants that are in hotels. Though there are restaurants like Chili’s and Uno’s, they do not have bars and you cannot have your favorite beer or mixed drink with dinner.

Pornography websites are blocked by the government– as are other sites they deem objectionable or against the values of the nation. Movies are censored for nudity– which, believe it or not, never affects the plot. It is almost like nudity does not have to exist in movies at all! Weird.

Other differences are not so apparent, but they exist. For example, it is against the law to flirt overly with or say crude things to women– many call it “Eve Teasing.” If you accidentally kill someone (say, a pedestrian with your car), like manslaughter, you are required to pay “blood money” to the family of the victim in restitution (usually, I hear, around $80,000 US) and may have to remain in prison until it is paid.

So, that’s just a recap of some things I’ve observed and learned after two weeks here.

I wonder what another two weeks will bring!

Explore posts in the same categories: Cross-Cultural Experiences, Culture

5 Comments on “Two Weeks in Dubai: Random Things Learned”

  1. Nadr Nameloc Says:

    Another outstanding blog! There are some movies that were defined by their nudity. Fast Times at Ridgemont High is one that comes to mind. Phobe Cates getting out of the pool! To your point there really isn’t any need to flash a boob or butt cheek. However, it is just a boob or a butt cheek! What is story with sports in UAE? How is the Real Estate Market? Keep on writing and best wishes on the job hunt. Are you on What’s the social media scene like in the UAE? Enough questions for now πŸ™‚

  2. kangayayaroo Says:

    Welcome to Dubai! We’ve been here eight months now and love it. It sounds like you might be hanging out on the Jumeirah side of town. We are in Deira, the oldest part of Dubai. If you venture into Deira, you’ll find it much different and less America-like.

    There are liquor stores here, but they are very well disguised. You first have to apply for a liquor license (which requires a permission letter from your employer or visa sponsor).

    Eve teasing refers to something that goes WAY beyond flirting. It is out and out harassment. There is a lot of gossip about all the things you can get arrested for here, but the fact is one’s behavior has to be extreme to result in arrest.

    I’ve written a blog for our family and friends back home (Oregon & California). If you are interested in what we’ve learned in 8 months, it’s .

  3. Alex Says:

    What kind of acting opportunities are there … there? Do they use allot of Westerners in commercials or some sort of thing? What sort of money are we talking about? This sounds intriguing…

    It should be noted, that there probably are movies where censored nudity might affect the story. I can’t think of any right now, but I can certainly say that, if I actually made a movie that played there, and it had, for whatever reason, nudity, I would be more than a little upset at its being excised. I tend to think it is far more important for a culture to respect art than it is for art to respect a culture. Art bound by societal norms and restrictions runs the risk of not actually being art, is the thing.

    That being said, I agree with your overall sentiment — *most* nudity in *most* films is largely pointless, and most films are, arguably, not art. Still, if they censor the sex and not the violence, then I don’t think the films are made any healthier for people, especially young people.

    It’s nice that open flirting is frowned on, though, as I’ve never been that good at it, anyway… πŸ™‚

  4. jeanna mahr Says:

    That is really interesting about the “eve-testing” – In this country we always seem to hear that women’s rights are squashed in Arab countries but with what you have observed it seems very different (at least where you are…) Women are “protected” from being objectified. I like the idea of not having nudity in movies – leading up to sex or just letting your imagination go there by itself is way more interesting and fun!!! πŸ™‚ I think if sites like pornography were blocked here in the US we would not have as many problems with child pornography/predators as we do. Thank you for sharing, it is very enlightening.

  5. boehadden Says:


    Yes…there are a lot of rumors and gossip about penalties for crimes and how ex-pats are treated…it’s hard to tell truth from fiction sometimes.

    Thanks for your informative reply!

    I’ll check out your blog.

    We are living in Rashidiya right now…quiet and populated with a lot of locals. I like this neighborhood. We’ll probably stay in this area. My wife’s family lives here (she grew up here in Dubai).

    We haven’t spent much time on Jumierah side…we haven’t even been to those malls yet this time…I was there when we visited last year…

    Thanks again. Maybe we can meet up sometime and all share our experiences of moving here πŸ™‚


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