15 Things People New to Dubai Probably Think are Weird

1. Being called Ma’am-Sir

From supermarkets to restaurants there is rarely an occasion that you are greeted with the correct moniker but rather an impressively seamless combination of the two.

2. Having someone pump your petrol

In fact a stop in at the petrol station is a full service experience, you can have your windows cleaned, pick up a coffee, some new perfume and get the air in your tires topped up, all without ever leaving the ACed comfort of you car.

3. Being able to have literally anything delivered to your door

Pizza, burgers, fish & chips, sushi, groceries, flowers, dry cleaning, hair dressers, nail technicians, car mechanics…but getting your post delivered to your house can be a little bit tough; go figure.

4. “Sweet Water” trucks

It took me years to find out what these were; giant tankers trucking down the highway with sweet water plastered across the side in big bold letters…what on earth is sweet water?! It’s fresh water.

5. People brushing their teeth in mall bathrooms

In fact it’s not just green brushing, sometimes you feel like you’ve walked into someone’s personal bathroom as their various personal bygone products spread across the counter top.

6. Needing an alcohol licence

You can’t just pop down to the shop in dubai and pick up a bottle of wine to have with dinner, no beers you have to have a license which you’re employer has to pay and then you’re limited to a certain amount of booze a month based on your salary…

7. Pork sections in the supermarket

Hidden behind a sliding glass door is the land of bacon, an expensive place when all your pork needs can be fulfilled. But only some shops house the sought after pork section so choose wisely.

8. 20Km grace on speed limits

In a land when super cars are about as common as Ford Fiestas of course there’s a generous margin on the speed limits.

9. Having someone pack your groceries

Convenient? Sure, but having to lug 10 bags up to your apartment instead of the because the guy won’t put me than four items in a bag, not so much. Oh, they will also take your shopping to your car and load it for you.

10. Wearing jumpers in the summer

When it’s pushing 50° outside you can bet every shopping mall, office and school will have the AC set to just about freezing, so yes you need a jumper.

11. Smoking in restaurants and bars

Okay not all restaurants, mainly just ones that serve alcohol but yes, you can still smoke inside here and it leaves you going home stinking if smoke.

12. Leaving your phone and/or handbag at the table while you go to get food

Dubai is pretty safe and living here you often take that for granted, leaving personal belongings unattended in malls, at brunches, in clubs; people even leave their homes unlocked and cars running.


13. Ladies only queues

Found in government buildings, hospitals and banks makes only queues are fairly common. Though weirdly the desk is often manned by a man…


14. Grocery shopping at 3am

Yes really… You can also hang out in the mall until 1am and grab dinner in most restaurants until at least 11.


15. Everyone speaks English

Some not as well as others but enough to get by, very few people will try to speak to you in Arabic, in fact your probably better off learning Hindi, Tagalog, Urdu or Russian if you want to pick up a new language.


15 Things People New to Dubai Probably Think are Weird



  1. Thats hillarious that you can get anything delivered except your post! Ladies only queues is cool too, which is quicker the mens queue or the ladies queue? I would like the fact it feels safe but hate that you can smoke in restaurants-that would put me off going to those ones.


  2. You can buy booze dependent of your salary?? So poor men cant get drunk?😅 Like in Thailand, one can feel like a king on the gas station where you have one person cleaning the windows while another one is filling up the tank.


  3. Haha great article! Love all these and I had no idea about any of them. The delivery thing seems AWESOME to me, as much as I love eating out, theres not much I love more than being able to have whatever I want delivered to my front door. Thanks for sharing!


  4. I wish there was a 20km grace on speed limits here! It would make my life so much easier (although I guess it would just seem like the speed limit is 20km faster than what it is). I love articles like these! Thank you 🙂


  5. Wow! I was so fascinated reading this post. Some of them made me giggle, i sympathise with you carrying all of those shopping bags! Lol


  6. Oh my gosh! If my husband and I lived in Dubai, he’d be one happy camper. No more packing my groceries and lugging them into the house, and no more shopping because his wife can’t deal with crowds. Best of all? He could smoke a cigar when we go out for dinner! x


  7. Wow! I am shocked by the liquor license thing. That would definitely not fly here in America. That being said, there were some states that don’t at certain times of day which can also be considered weird. LOL.


  8. This post is really funny – I love it! I had no idea about the pork products – I just thought they wouldn’t be available at all (good to know I might still be able to get sausages if and when I visit dubai!) x


  9. What a great and funny list! Yes, there are certainly some weird habits like brushing teeth in mall, pork section at groceries, wearing a jumper in Dubai climate and smoking in restaurants and bars are weird nowadays.


  10. I had a fun reading your post! There’re many hilarious things such as brushing teeth in mall bathrooms as well as calling fresh water as a sweet! But it clearly gives the glimpse of a foreign land how it is different from ours!


  11. This was such an interesting read Kim, there are a lot of things on this list that are common in India as well, e.g., someone pumping your car and even cleaning it, people packing your bags for grocery, home-delivery of so many services. I never knew it’s like that in Dubai, pretty convenient for some things, eh?


  12. You have got a good observation and listed very accurate points about Dubai which any expat feels it. Pumping the car by someone, grocery filling by helpers, home-delivery, Ladies only Q is quite common in Asian countries but the most unique part of Dubai is leaving purse unattended and nobody will rob it.


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