I was chatting with some friends yesterday (lovely, genuine people - a rare find in Dubai) and we were discussing the difficulty of finding 'real' people here. People who move here have a tendency to develop a 'persona'; a new personality to go with their new lifestyle (or to hide the lifestyle they have escaped from in coming here). If you were moving to a new place and could reinvent yourself, what would your new persona be?
So, here are a few tips and hints for those moving to Dubai, to aid them in their quest for the perfect Dubai persona:
1. The minute you get off the plane, go to the nearest bank (chose a local one, they are far more stupid) and take out every credit card option they have, plus the bank account with all the features, benefits, rewards etc. Make sure that the limit on your credit cards collectively is as high as possible. See below for reasons. Oh, and don't give them a genuine forwarding address in your home country.
2. Choice of vehicle: of course you are only going to pretend that you go driving and/or camping in the desert, but it is absolutely essential that you have a 4x4 to go to spinneys, so no other car will do.
3. Purchase of said vehicle: 'maximum cost, minimum downpayment' is the key here. A porsche Cayenne, Q7 or that BMW thing are the best options. Take out the loan over the longest period (let's face it, you haven't got a hope in hell of paying it off) and anyway the interest rate is probably only about 4% so who cares?
4. Notwithstanding that you now have an expensive vehicle (and will shortly have speeding fines to match - see below) you NEED a driver. You can't possibly get by here in Dubai without at least two servants, so both a maid and a driver are essential. The cost is absolutely prohibitive but you NEED them - its a status thing. You won't be able to hold your head up at brunch at the Burj Al Arab without being able to say you have them.
5. Driving: speed limits are for wimps. It is necessary to pay out huge amounts in speeding fines each year when you re-register your car. Remember, nonchalence is the key here - don't baulk when they tell you how much. You are the dog's bollocks after all, in your Porsche Cayenne.
6. Entertainment: The object of your weekend is to remain pissed for most of the time. A quick 9 holes on the golf course (the Montgomery, of course) followed by the all day brunch. Leave the kids with the maid, she only gets one day off a month (I mean, what is she going to do with a day off, she has no money on what you pay her).
7. Wasta: wasta means 'street cred' in Khaleeji. In order to develop your wasta you need to max out the credit cards buying designer gear. Breitling watch, calvin Klein undies, Gucci, Armani, D&G, they're all here, so knock yourself out.
8. The Moonlight flit: of course, the lifestyle can't last for ever and when you finally get the can because you are pissed at work on a Sunday (again) and the bank keep calling you at the office about the amount of debt outstanding on your credit card, it's time to bail out Dubai style. This needs careful planning, after all you don't want people thinking that you are the plonker you really are. So, don't dump the car at the airport - too obvious. Give the insurance company a few days to find it - drive it to a very large supermarket and leave it in their car park. The bank hasn't got a clue where you're from, or indeed where you're going, so forget the debts on the credit cards. Don't bother telling the school that you're leaving, after all they have been ripping you off royally on their fees, so knickers to them. Just to be on the safe side, book return tickets when you leave - saves any awkwardness with immigration on the way out.
Have a nice life and thanks for flying air misery!