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11 outdated Dubai stereotypes that are totally wrong

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We’ve all held back an eye-roll when someone has come out with a completely untrue Dubai stereotype. Yes, the city is full of impressive skyscrapers and larger-than-life brunches, but there’s so much more to the city than that. Sometimes we feel that tourists arrive thinking that everyone drives a Bugatti and lives inside an air-conditioned mall. Here are some of the most common stereotypes, and why they’re not true…

1. Everyone drives a supercar
Pull up outside any hotel or mall and you’ll see a row of dazzlingly fancy souped-up cars. Yes, it’s true that there are plenty of seriously fancy wheels in Dubai, but we know plenty of people who drive practical, reasonably priced vehicles.

2. All the expat women are ‘Jumeirah Janes’
There’s a misconception that all expat men work in oil and gas, live in Jumeirah and have wives who don’t work. If you’re reading this and thinking “that sounds exactly like me”, then sorry for using you as an example… you do you. The point is that there are all sorts of people out here, working in almost every industry that you can imagine. In fact, the UAE was recently named one of the top career destinations in the world by HSBC, and there are plans to increase the country’s gender equality ranking to make it one of the top 25 countries in the world.

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3. Emiratis don’t mix with non-locals
Dubai is one of the most multi-cultural places in the world for a reason – people are genuinely accepting of other people’s cultures. That means that in offices and at social events, there’s plenty of opportunity to make friends with people from all over the world, including locals.

4. Everyone is rich
… we wish.

5. Everyone goes to brunch on Fridays
Let’s make one thing clear before we address this point – we love a good brunch. But there are so many things to do in Dubai at weekends that we actually don’t go on them that often. With cycle tracks, art galleries, classes, beaches, and all those new theme parks, sometimes we go months without heading to one of Dubai’s numerous Friday hotspots.

6. It’s always stiflingly hot
Yes, Dubai is in the desert, and for a few months during the summer it’s HOT, but it’s not like that all year round. From October to April, it’s actually quite mild, and it can even feel cold in the evenings sometimes.

7. There’s no cultural scene
DUCTAC are always putting on shows, Dubai Opera brings some of the world’s most talented musicians and dancers to the UAE, and Al Quoz is perfect for those who love to get creative. We also recommend taking some time to learn about the history of the UAE – Etihad Museum in Jumeirah tells the story of the emirates.

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8. Everything is five-star and fancy
Some of our favourite restaurants in Dubai are also some of the cheapest (check out our hidden gems here, here and here). Never underestimate how good Karama can be for a curry. There’s also plenty of places that offer a look at ‘old Dubai’, such as Bur Dubai and Deira. There’s the gold souk, the fish market, abras, and much more.

9. All the food is imported
While there are lots of imported products in supermarkets, there are also plenty of places that you can buy food from local farms. The likes of Ripe Market is putting the spotlight on local, organic vegetables and you can head to the fish market to buy from local fishermen.

10. Everyone lives in a skyscraper
We all know that Dubai is the home of impressively tall buildings, but not everyone lives above the clouds. There are plenty of villas, townhouses and low rises around the city.

11. That it didn’t exist five years ago
Dubai has experienced a tourist boom over the last five years, and we’ve all seen the incredible before and after pictures of the city’s growth. Many people mistakenly believe that, because of all this, Dubai is brand new. Try telling that to a local or an expat who has lived here for three decades! Check out or round up of ‘Dubai firsts’ to get a sense of where the crowds used to go before the tourists arrived in their droves.

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