29. Patience - If you don't have patience this is not the place for you... Between language barriers, cultural differences, no worries attitude, etc, things always take a while to happen here regardless of what you are trying to accomplish. So get ready to wait!!!
28. Cellphone - This should really be #1 but since I thought about it early in this posting... MAKE SURE YOUR CELLPHONE is UNLOCKED prior to getting on the plane, it will be a lifesaver!!! Once off the airplane and after customs, but prior to the duty free (alcohol), you will have the opportunity to purchase a sim card (50AED), which will give you a few minutes and access to mobile internet, the main thing was to get a sim. There are only 2 service providers out here DU & Etisalat, from what I can tell they are extremely similar so just pick one! I went with Etisalat. Additional minutes can be purchased at Lulu's, CarreFour and a multitude of other places in the mall. Make sure you get mobile internet, because it will be the only internet that you will have access to aside from Wi-Fi at coffee shops, restaurants until you are official.
27. Food - If you can obtain a menu, the phone number to the restaurant and can describe where you live it can be delivered! All the restaurants named in #24 and pretty much any restaurant you can find will bring your order directly to your door. The UAE is a fast food culture similar to the US, except you don't have to leave your house to eat and that the fast food scene is dominated by Pakistani, Indian, and the typical US fast-food chains (taking 3rd place).
26. Home Internet Takes a While - If you are moving to Dubai or another Emirate, home internet will not be installed until have received your residence visa. Until then you are at the will of mobile internet via your mobile phone hot-spot, coffee shops, internet cafes, and places with Wi-Fi.
25. Malls - Most of the malls in Dubai fit into the category of ridiculously excessive and expansive to the point where strolling the mall will easily take a couple of days and a true shopping trip will require a hotel budget to see the trip to through completion.
24. Restaurants - If you are coming here from the US there are familiar restaurants everywhere... Just to name a few, there are McDonalds, Popeye's chicken, Texas Chicken (Church's in the US), they just opened an iHop, Cheese Cake Factory, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, PF Changs, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Garrett's Popcorn (Chicago), Burger King, Domino's Pizza, Chucky Cheese, Benihana, Chili's, Friday's, Romano's Macaroni Grill, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Baskin & Robins, Cold Stone Creamery, Etc... I probably could have dedicated a full post to this, but you get the picture right?
23. Camels - They aren't just walking around the city as my ignorant little mind initially thought. The likely hood of you seeing a camel in the city is comparable to seeing a cow wondering the streets of New York or Chicago. From what I've been told, once you exit the city and drive for a little while you will start to see camels here and there along the highway.
22. Camel Milk is available at the grocery store and come in a variety of flavors. Camels milk is something that you must try at least twice. I urge you to try it twice because you have to try the regular unflavored camel milk and regardless if you like it or not try the chocolate flavored. Speaking of Chocolate you absolutely have to try camel milk chocolate!!! This chocolate is a chocolate lovers experience and is great!!!
21. For my pork lovers, it's sold but, only in certain high-end grocery stores that are similar to wholefoods.
20. Dubai's version of breakfast sausage and bacon is terrible. Both sausage and bacon comes in a variety of meat substitutions ranging from your typical turkey and chicken all the way to lamb and even fish. I've yet to find a subsitute for my butterball turkey bacon and sausage. The Dubai version of turkey sausage is a miniature version of an extremely dry US hot-dog and their bacon seems like slices of the terrible hotdogs painted a secondary color.
19. Cars - Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, etc... If you are a lover of exotic vehicles there is an abundance of Auto Eye Candy at almost every stop light and in every valet. The Dubai Mall Valet is a place where if you aren't driving a car that cost a half a million or more you are guaranteed not to be placed up front (It looked like a Rolls Royce owners club on a Friday night, all others got put in a garage). Getting a used car out here is very affordable but don't expect to come up on a Ultra Luxury for nothing but you can drive something NICE!
18. Television - You can get cable TV through OSN without much effort but depending on your TV watching habits there may not be a need. Once you've purchased a TV and if by chance you live in a building the will probably give you access to the satellite dishes on the roof. In order to gain access to he 4000+ stations you must buy a receiver box. The boxes are relatively inexpensive but I will warn you of those 4000 channels only a handful of them are 24hr English speaking. Although they may not have a lot of options if you are in to movies you'll love what's available.
17. Friday Brunch - Friday Brunch is a Dubai past-time where you eat & drink until your hearts content. The brunch is an all day buffet with an open bar that typically starts around noon and runs until 7-9pm. The cost range between 80 - 300+ Dhr. Additionally, brunch is one of the exceptions to the rule of alcohol only being sold at restaurants attached to hotels.
16. Hot is Cold and Cold is Hot - When it comes to taking a shower, washing dishes, hands or clothes the general rule of thumb is the the hot water faucet produces cold water and the cold water faucet produces hot water. This is a universal thing throughout the city but it's not due to a plumbing issue it's due to the HEAT and the way the water is processed! Your hot water heater is essentially a storage place for water that consequentially gets cooled by sitting in your highly air conditioned home!
15. Dubizzle is like the Craigslist of the middle east. In the UAE you can pretty much purchase anything used or new on Dubizzle for a reasonable price especially when it comes to furniture, autos, electronics, etc. Although prices are reasonable I still urge you to shop around prior to purchase just to see what else is available.
14. Products - For the most part if you are looking for a product produced by a major US manufacturer it will be readily available. There is no real need to stock up on trivial items but if there are things you just can't live without make sure you get it just to insure you have it. Otherwise this is the land of options, if they don't have the exact product you are looking for they will have a number of comparable products that will most likely suit your needs.
13. Restrooms/Bidet - Although the standard (US) toilet is what you will primarily find in Dubai, every toilet is accompanied by a hand held bidet, which looks like your average kitchen sink sprayer. Not to worry bidet's use are optional (toilet paper is readily available in its customary place) but I'd like to encourage you to try to bidet at least twice to see how you like it. You probably noticed that I said primarily at the beginning of this paragraph... Depending on where you are in the city there is a chance you will walk into a restroom and have a variety of options to do your business. I haven't been ambitious enough to try the squat method of taking a dump but it's available if you'd like to try it for yourself.
12. Weather - When you first step out of the airplane the temperature change is noticeable no matter where you are arriving from. During most of the year 100+ degree temperatures are the norm but the biggest problem is the variations in humidity. I could be 107 with low humidity and after being here for a while you wouldn't give 100+ temp a second thought. Adversely it could be 101 with high humidity and it could be absolutely miserable. From what I've been told the temp drops in October but it's only September so that has yet to be confirmed.
11. Dehumidifier - If you are not familiar with this little device, get acquainted because it has the potential of becoming your favorite household appliance especially for those of you who are cold natured. In Dubai there are 2 choice when it comes to temperature in your home/apartment, COLD or FREEZING, that is if you do not have a dehumidifier. One of the major problems in this area of the world aside from the heat is the humidity in the air. Excessive humidity within confined spaces at warmer temperatures, especially in homes, tends promote the growth of mold (not a good thing). The dehumidifier will allow you to decrease the temperature in your home to a bearable temperature without increasing the humidity while decreasing the opportunity for mold.
10. Beaches (Chalets) - The beaches here will remind you of a tropical paradise with Miami style sand and very blue, but clear water. Most beaches require a nominal admission to access them, but the admission fee will typically give you access to beach facilities such as showers, toilets, and other typical beach stuff. There are a few high-end beaches north of the city that feature chalets, which can be rented for a very reasonable daily rate (9am-9pm). When renting a chalet you have the option of getting, a single, which is similar to a duplex or a double, which is like a small stand alone house. Each chalet is air conditioned, has a kitchen, furniture, BBQ pit, picnic table, bathroom with a shower, and is wired for electricity. They are big enough to hold about 20-40 people depending on how comfortable you are with being in a close proximity to your company.
9. Lulu's, CarreFour, Hyper Panda, ETC (Hypermart) - The easiest way to explain the Hypermart is to compare it to a couple of familiar shopping icons in the US marketplace, Super-Walmart, Mier, or Super Target. Both LuLu's and CarreFour are sizable stores that sell pretty much anything you may need during your stay in Dubai. Food, feminine products, flash-drives, furniture or anything in between a Hypermart is your destination.
8. Ramadan - If you aren't Muslim and don't absolutely have to be in Middle East during this time of year then DON'T! Ramadan is a fasting holiday that last about a month where you can not consume any food or beverage publicly during the day-time hours, dress expectations become more conservative, and little to no restaurants are open (except for a few places that deliver).
7. Souks - The Souks are a group of traditional outside markets that sell merchandise/goods according to the name sake of the Souk. There are a number of Souks, but the two best known are the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk, selling what you've probably already guessed, Gold and Spices. If you have a piece of gold jewelry that you absolutely love but can no longer find, this is the place to get it duplicated. Simply bring a sample/photo or a detailed description of what you want and it can be made within a couple of days
6. Dragon Mart - The dragon mart is likely the largest indoor discount mall/flea market in Dubai, spanning the length of 3.5 football fields. If you are looking for replica/bootleg merchandise this is your place. They have pretty much anything you can imagine.
5. Electronics From home - 110v - 240v - If you are bringing electronics with you from home ensure they are compatible with the electricity in this region of the world. For those of you who are not aware of this potential issue, the power coming from the wall in the United States is 110-120v/60 hertz and the power coming from the wall in Dubai is 220-240v/50 hertz. There are devices called power transformer that step the 220v down to 110v but they are not full proof and don't work with all appliances. Typically your computers, cellphones, and other relatively expensive devices will only need a plug adapter because they are made to use any available power source.
4. No apple Store - I was extremely surprised to discover there isn't a single Apple store in the entire UAE.
3. Rental Car - Renting a car is relatively inexpensive. You can rent a Nissan Tiida (Versa) for a month for about 1800 dhr which is about $489, which would be high for a car note, but considering it's a rental, the cost is only $16.30/day. If you plan on being here for a while look into purchasing a vehicle.
2. Barber Shops - Simply put these guys have skills... I was concerned about the ability to maintain my hair but it has been an non issue. Barber shops or as they call them Gentlemen Saloons are abundant and they are accustom to cutting all types of hair. (Sorry ladies I don't have any info for you as of yet)
1. The REAL on Dubai Dress Code - Within reason, anything goes! The UAE isn't one of those overly conservative Arabic countries that requires women to be covered in public. Prior to arriving in Dubai the typical thought regarding the Dress Code was that your Knees and Shoulders had to be covered. After a couple of weeks in the city we quickly discovered the dress code is really non existent. On a typical day in the mall you will see women wearing a variety ranging from strapless halters, spaghetti straps, extremely short (club style) dresses, tank tops all the way to traditional Abaya.