50 things Filipino yuppies need to know if they want to live and work in Dubai

For Filipinos going abroad for the first time, comparison is inevitable. Much more if your destination is Dubai. Yes we're aware of the heaven and earth differences. Things indeed are differently done in Dubai compared back home.

After converting the price tags from dirhams to pesos, what happens next is, we compare every breathe we take, every step we make.

Here are random 50 of them, big and small:

1. Wrong spelling, fine
Sort of. Government ministries and other establishments, even some offices are not really particular about the spelling of your name.  Unlike in Manila, it would take forever to settle a mispelled Cristine instead of Kristine. And because of the Arabic phonetics, D becomes Z and Q becomes G at times and it's just fine.

2. Your first name is gem
People address you by first name like Mr. Juan, instead of Mr. Dela Cruz. They also use your middle name quite often.

3. 'Baroc' English might work
As long as you can get your messages across, it could work. No grammar police to correct your wrong tenses, your missing conjunctions, your sentence constructions, etc.  Don't get me wrong. A proper English is necessary, but it's not really something that would bring you down.

4. UK English please
Lift, not elevator. To let, not for rent. Colour, not color. The US English is hardly used in the country. In many cases, Indian English too, see this.

5. Sim cards are registered
Not only that, the sims are also connected to our national ID, hence all mobile activities are traceable.

6. Don't text, just call
People seldom text because calls are as affordable.

7. FHM is blocked
Sorry, no pornography and other provocative adult sites allowed.

8. Viber, Skype and other VoIP are "regulated"
Apparently, only licensed service providers (Du and Etisalat) can offer such services, so some of these websites are blocked.

9. Police don't carry weapons
It is generally peaceful here. No threats to the security and order. If you see police cars roaming around, it could probably be responding to a road accident. In most cases their more powerful weapons are only... pen and paper (You know what I mean if you're a driver).

10. No security guards
There are no security guards on many establishments.  Malls doesn't have guards that inspect your bags too.  And if you found some, they don't carry guns at all.  

11. You can flaunt your gadgets and jewels
It's safe. No one will just pull out your earrings and run away. No one will attempt to rob your mobile phones at your consciousness.

12. No curfews
Go home after 12 midnight and you're just okay (as long as you don't live in the desert).

13. 'Ladies first' happens
Ladies are given priority on queues, especially in government offices when doing transactions. So if you want to process something, bring along your wife. They also occupy a reserved section on the Dubai Metro and public bus front seats.

14. Don't go large
Serving size on fast food outlets is bigger than what you're used to.  The size they serve back home is only as good as the kiddie meal here.

15. You need a license to buy alcohol
You need to apply for a license to legally buy alcohol at very few establishments. You can freely buy in Duty Free upon arrival though, but do not pakyaw. Keep the receipt as proof.

16. Pork is on sale
Pork products are available at select supermarkets.  Pork dishes are also served in many licensed hotel restaurants. Lechon, crispy pata, sisig, adobo, almost anything, so you won't crave that much when you return home.

17. Pinoy food is everywhere
Food homesick? That's a thing of the past. There are already hundreds of big and small Filipino restaurants in the country.  Big supermarkets also have Philippine products sections in them. Your favorite pancit canton, tuna, cookies, chichirya and hotdogs are avaible in many Philippine supermarkets in the country.

18. Sayote is gold, apple is candy
One kilo of sayote is AED38. Just use papaya for your tinola instead.  Other veggies that are so expensive in Manila are quite affordable here, like broccoli. Fruits are also very affordable.

19. Street foods are posh
In contrary to Asian street foods, here they come in food trucks and are only visible in high-end communities, because apparently they cost higher.

20. No free water on restaurants
There are no service water. If Evian is too costly for you, there are other bottled water with lower price tags anyway.

21. There are Catholic churches
Yes you can practice your religion here. And there are many church organizations too. There are two churches in Dubai, one in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi. Simbang Gabi is even observed here. There are many active Christian churches also here.

22. There's no dress code
There are calls to dress decently as respect to the culture, but there's really no strict dress code. Men can wear shirts and shorts, Women are not obliged to wear abaya and veil. But please dress appropriately considering the places you're going.

23. Yes you can bikini
Muslims wear burkinis, while non-Muslims are free to wear bikinis on the beach and in pool resorts.

24. It's not desert here
Haven't you seen photos yet?

25. It's hot but...
Temperatures can soar up to 50, but you won't really feel it that much as you stay indoors almost all the time. And everywhere you go is air-conditioned, even bus stops.

26. Getting a driver's license is challenging
It's not too difficult to buy a car, but passing a road test to get that license is the roadblock. Very rare that someone gets it at the first try. There are many stories that they succeeded at the 5th or even 10th attempt. So a box of donuts treat is a normal scene when someone 'wins' a license.

27. You can park your car unlocked
You can even park it hundred meters away from where you stay, regardless if its Ferrari or Sunny.

28. Public transpo is okay, but...
You don't pay cash to the driver. You'll use prepaid cards (NOL) in Dubai metro and bus. Bus trips and stops are scheduled and efficient most of the time.  But there are still few routes that takes ages before you reach your destination because of multiple loops.  Also, some of them are smelly.

29. Waiting sheds are air-conditioned
So who said that you'll get fried waiting for the bus? Not really. You can take shelter at the air-conditioned capsules while waiting. There is also a map that informs about the different routes and stops.

30. No street vendors
So don't expect peanuts or quail eggs along the way

31. Don't squeeze yourself
Two people sharing the passenger seat, and four squeezing the 3-seater back seats only happen in the Philippines. It is a traffic violation.

32. It's tax-free
So far...

33. Your biggest monthly expense is rent
The cost could already give you a condo unit in Manila

34. Sir/Mam is not a common practice in offices
We call our bosses by their first names. Others address them by Mister _____. Only few uses sir / mam (probably Pinoy bosses).

35. You cannot easily change jobs
Because we are all dependent on visas. So bring along your patience and resiliency here.

36. No sachets
Unlike what we've used to in our country, your favorite toiletries don't come in sachets. Because, according to many, people can afford to buy larger packs anyway.

37. Bag your own groceries
Self-serving bagging happens here. There are baggers but you can do it on your own.

38. There are many active Filipino communities
Just search Facebook groups and you'll see diverse groups ranging from hobbyists, hometown origins, career and OFW support groups here.

39. Pinoys are everywhere
Every block, every corner, and almost every floor level there are Filipinos. At the malls, many staff are Filipinos. We are already 900,000 strong spread across the country and the diaspora continues.

40. There are Philippine schools
United International Private School and The Philippine School in Dubai, and 3 more in Abu Dhabi and 2 in Sharjah.

41. Filipino concerts and conferences happen all the time
You might find yourself attending these events more often than when you're in the Philippines. Common interest group meetups happens a lot.

42. Pinoys 'own' the basketball courts
Football and cricket are theirs. Basketball is ours.  It runs in our blood. There are 'pa-liga' games every weekend. The love of the game is one reason why PBA frequently visits the city to play official games.

43. Fiestas are celebrated
Festivals like Ati-atihan, Sinulog and Santacruzan are also colorfully celebrated here.

44. There are Tagalog FM stations
Tag 91.1 was the first all-Filipino fm radio station in the country. Earlier this year, Wow FM launched another one.  Don't be surprised if some shops at the malls play Tagalog music all along.

45. We have Filipino magazines and newspapers
Illustrado is one of the leading Filipino magazines in the country. Kabayan Weekly and The Filipino Times are the 2 most popular news publications here.

There's also a dedicated "Philippines" page in Gulf News - the largest and most popular publication in UAE.

46. School name not an issue
No. It's not about where you graduated from. Diplomas and certifications are valued but what's really more important is your ability to market yourself about what you can bring to the table.

47. Race could be
In some job posts certain nationalities are preferred. For PRs for example, they'd prefer Western raised people because of the nature of work. Many hospitality and service oriented firms sometimes prefer Filipinos because of the reputation of quality customer service. Until today, salary differences in some companies are attributed to race.

48. We work on Sundays
...because it's the start of work week. Weekends are Fridays and Saturdays. So, TGIT happens.

49. Work with the world
It's a bunch of different nationalities at work. It's multicultural. It could be fun or it could be disaster, depending on how you cope up with it.

Keeping up a reputable identity is important. Mingle but don't be swayed.  Mix up. There aren't "that many" racists in this part of the globe.

50. Yes, we celebrate Christmas
We can put up Christmas trees and hang lanterns at home. Recently also, mall boutiques and hotels creatively decorate for the Yuletide season. But that doesn't mean we're spared from Christmas homesickness. "Wala pa ring tatalo sa Pasko sa Pinas!"


I'm sure there are more to this list. If you know significant ones that I missed, please feel free to leave them on the comments below.

Dubai looks like one 'Little Pilipinas' anymore. Okay so ready ka na ba?

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