Welcome to Dubai! As the start of school approaches, you’ve probably done everything you could to ensure that your child transitions into Swiss International School Dubai as smoothly as possible. Hopefully you’ve gotten a tour of our facilities, and had a look at some of the Innovation Labs that your child will be taking advantage of when they enter our halls.
Of course, it’s not just your kid who has to prepare for the new school year – it’s you and the rest of your family as well! To help you get started in the City of Gold, we’ve prepared a quick checklist of things you can do to prepare yourself.
It should really go without saying, but make sure that your documentation is in order before preparing the big move. Get your visa ready, whichever visa you’re applicable for, along with your educational certificate, spousal visa if applicable, passports, medical records, previous school records, and everything else along with 3-5 photocopies of each. You may also want to check if the driver’s license from your home country is going to work in Dubai, otherwise you can have it converted easily.
Dubai itself is certainly very Westernized, but it’s also a cultural melting pot with a tremendously diverse population, and of course it’s situated in a country that may not share the same culture and laws as the one you’re coming from.
Read up on local laws, so that you don’t get blindsided by certain unique rules and regulations. For example, one positive thing you’ll find out is that all earnings are tax-free, which is great for your business! However, Dubai is strict in certain ways that you might not expect. For example, taking pictures, especially of strangers, is often heavily restricted, and can land you in jail or with a hefty fee. There are also strict laws against public displays of affection such as kissing and petting, and dress codes are enforced in public places. The more you know about these laws, the better!
In addition, some quirks may throw you off at first. For example, weekends aren’t Saturday and Sunday, but actually Friday and Saturday!
Perhaps one of the best ways to prepare for the move is to find expats who are already living in Dubai! Many have thousands of members that are all there to make connections, take advantage of the networking opportunities, and really just help each other out. Most of these host regular meetups as well so you’ll never feel left out.
Some groups have broad scopes of membership that are open to all interested expats. One big example is The Expats Club, with over 15,000 members.
Others are specific to particular nationalities. There are Dubai societies for Scots, Irish, Belgians, Australians, Germans, and Italians, among many others. Alliance Francaise de Dubai also offers French language classes and events for members.
You’ll also find groups that are specific to women, for example Expat Women, Swiss Ladies Dubai, British Mums, and Dubai Madame. These may be especially helpful for getting tips for handling your child’s education while you’re here, as well as learning about things to do in Dubai.
One thing that can’t be understated is that Dubai is a fun, safe, fascinating city that’ll definitely take care of you for however long you plan on being here. Learn as much as you can about it, visit the museums and bask in the nightlife, and revel in the international community that’s as diverse as it gets.