Prior to going on my most recent trip for a working holiday in Okinawa, Japan, I had booked a flight to Dubai to dive into what coworking looked like in the UAE. Originally, there was also going to be a conference centered around the Future of Work which I was definitely interested in attending, however, that ended up getting moved.
Although the event was moved, I still decided to go on this working holiday for a week in Dubai. I really had no idea what to expect and didn’t have much of a plan. So what did I do:
- I booked a hostel which ended up being on the 60 something floor of a building overlooking the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. The image above is from that view. It was beautiful. Not only was I staying in more of a residential part of the developed Dubai, but I was incredibly close to a number of restaurants, the light rail, and the beach.
- I reached out to two coworking spaces in the area including:
- Nest in Tryp Wyndham Hotel Dubai
- Impact Hub Dubai
- I also was curious about the Internet City and Media City in Dubai. In short, these are areas of the city built for companies that want to have offices in Dubai while also having less rules and regulations that are normally imposed due to being in the UAE. I decided to get some work done out of the Urban Bistro in the Media City which wasn’t too far from where I was staying and would give me an opportunity to check out one of these areas and see what the vibe was like.
- I started doing research on what to expect and what I can and can’t do in Dubai. Here is a rough overview of what I found out:
- Dubai is very much a city of non locals. There are over 7 million ex pats that are living in the UAE. This is over three quarters of the entire population. In general, I found it difficult to meet locals.
- You can only really drink in restaurants unless you have a license which you probably can’t get. In general, just don’t drink as it is quite expensive or at least do not get drunk if you happen to choose to drink.
- Other drugs. Don’t do it, bring it, smoke it, etc. It is a very bad idea and not worth it.
- Modesty is key. Women need to read more into this as there are more rules around what should be worn and what shouldn’t. Also, dancing should be kept indoors and never done in public.
- If you are traveling with a significant other, be prepared to prove that you are married in order to stay in the same room. The rules for this are quite strict.
- Avoid PDA
- Don’t litter and always pay for your light rail pass. Fines are very high if you get caught doing any of these. Just treat this city as you do your own. Hopefully you don’t litter at home!
- Look up religious holidays (Ramadan) and be prepared for if the daily routine is different and requires changes in your behavior. During Ramadan, you can not eat, drink, or smoke in public places between sunrise and sunset.
Even though there are a number of rules to follow in Dubai, I am very much intrigued by what has been done to create a city so quickly in the middle of the UAE. I have also started putting together a list of some books to read about the vision of the UAE and Dubai which I believe will also provide an interesting angle at looking into the city.
As I prepare to get on my long flight from Japan to Dubai, I am looking forward to finding out what coworking and shared work spaces are like in this part of the world. Next up, I will be writing about my next coworking space visit in a hotel in Dubai!