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What it's like to be a female expat living in Dubai or Abu Dhabi

What it's like to be a female expat living in Dubai or Abu Dhabi

by Lauren Yates

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Stepping off a plane with a one-way ticket in hand can be daunting for any female, especially a 22-year-old travelling alone to Dubai. As a first-time visitor and soon-to-be resident, I had no idea what to expect but had seen some mixed reviews on the news.

The year was 2014, and it was a hot summer day in August. That month I learnt the only thing that is not safe for ladies here is your hair from humidity during summer. Fast forward to August 2022...8 years later, I am still here (facing the same hair problems) but absolutely no intention to leave.


Where do I start?

Dubai is one of the safest places to live; you can literally walk the streets at 3am to grab a pint of milk without a care in the world; coming from Manchester, that is not something I'd dream of doing at home. One study reported Dubai to be 92% safe to walk alone, and I couldn't agree more (you can see more details here). There are also options to select female taxi drivers and female/children sections on the metro to ensure ladies feel comfortable and at ease.

Amongst the skyscrapers and Marina lights, there are plenty of areas where you can really feel a sense of community; in Dubai, The Springs, Arabian Ranches and Damac Hills are just a few places you will find lots of families reside, cooking up BBQ's with their neighbours whilst children safely play outdoors. This brings me to my next point; no BBQ is complete without a few vinos! Alcohol is very accessible in Dubai in most bars, hotels, restaurants and beach clubs. You can easily pick up a license to stock up at home too.

There's one thing you will notice in the UAE which I haven't found anywhere else in the world; how easily people make friends here. With one quick search, you will find countless ladies' groups on Facebook and Meet Up, sharing advice, events and activities (check it out here). There's something for everyone, from 'under/over 30's club' to 'female networking'. I've been to paint classes, fitness events, art exhibitions, brunches and after-work drinks, to name a few and have made some life-long friends along the way. Here are some further ideas; click here to see them.


​In case you needed any more persuading, here are a few more reasons to move to the UAE:
  • Multicultural living; many cultures live happily alongside one another.
  • Multiple activity places for families, from waterparks to zoos, soft play areas, and so much more!  See them here.
  • Dubai is a world travel hub; lots of amazing countries to explore are easily accessible from Dubai International Airport, and many are not too far away.
  • Visit the 7 Emirates of the UAE on your days off; you may even find a hiking group to explore with ladies day/nights- a vast array of discounts in many different hotels, beach clubs and bars. 
  • For activities in Abu Dhabi, you can see some options here.
So if you have been offered an exciting chance to move out here, I'd say to grab a hold of it and don't let go; the UAE provides so much opportunity. It really is not to be missed.