Myth: Everybody is rich
The city no doubt exudes a vibe of exuberance and blinding lights to outsiders. However, for anyone living here, every day does not include lunches at the Burj Al Arab or shopping for high-end brands at Dubai Mall.
Like any other country, the UAE requires you to work smart and hard, maybe even more than in your home country. People here have a strong work ethic, which is the best way to live a comfortable life in the Emirates. Contrary to popular belief, many here live in sharing accommodations and work pretty long hours.
Myth: It is difficult to practice your religious faith
While the Emirates are a predominately Muslim country, it welcomes people from all faiths and cultures. There are places of worship in all parts of the country from churches for Catholics to Gurudwaras for the Sikh community.
Go online and check on where you can find them, or join online groups that help organise prayer meets and community gatherings. You can freely practice your faith with no interference as long as it does not harm or obstruct any pre-existing laws.
Myth: Dubai tap water causes hair loss and skin problems
Studies have shown that there’s no scientific way the tap water in the country can cause hair loss. Gulf News even tested four samples of tap water from four different areas in Dubai — Deira, Bur Dubai, Silicon Oasis, and Jumeirah — identifying the chemical levels found in each sample.
Tests showed that there is no direct link between Dubai’s water quality and hair loss or balding,
So don’t fall for marketing gimmicks and false rumours. The condition of your hair and skin are affected by your lifestyle choices primarily. So eat healthy while maintaining a nutritious diet.
Myth: Women need to be covered from head to toe
While this is probably the most common misconception you might come across, it is always respectful to be accommodating of a country’s traditions and culture. You need to be smart about your attire; just like in your home country you would not walk the streets at odd hours in revealing clothes, be mindful about the occasion and setting and dress appropriately. Several malls and public places request that you adhere to a decent, sensible dress-code.
Myth: Medication for mental illness is banned and can land you in jail
Narcotic drugs and substances are illegal in most countries around the world and the UAE is no exception. However, if you are on prescribed medication there are medicines which are controlled, semi-controlled and highly controlled.
For instance, if you have been on a certain form of medication for any medical mental illness, you can visit a certified psychiatrist to explain your case. If the doctor deems fit, an approved prescription is given for you to obtain your medication based on the degree of your illness. It is always better to keep your prescription handy if you need to carry your medication with you.
If you are using your medication in a prescribed and safe manner through a specialised doctor you have no cause to worry.
Myth: Alcohol is prohibited
Carrying alcohol or being found intoxicated in public is a punishable offence. However the city has a bustling night life with vibrant and busy weekends where alcohol is allowed in the designated premises such as hotels and specified venues.
So a great night on the town is something you can be sure to experience, while living in the Emirates. One can buy alcohol from designated stores all across the city with a liquor license. Residents can get one here.
Myth: Dubai is either a concrete jungle or a desert
This could not be further from the truth. While Dubai is world famous for its architectural wonders, places not too far from the city like the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (Jebal Jais) boasts of mountains and nature treks, the emirate of Fujairah is famous for deep sea diving and the sand dunes in Abu Dhabi's Liwa Oasis is breath taking for nature lovers. There are also camping sites, desert safaris, adventure tours and sand dune bashing for adrenaline junkies.
The laws in the UAE are constantly being updated and revised so it is best to check official websites or customer care services when in doubt. The UAE is welcoming of all cultures and is a melting pot of diversity. So jump right in.
- Sanobar Mistry is a published journalist and currently works as a teacher in the UAE