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 can be a huge hassle to prepare documentation, so it’s best that you get started over the next month before school starts. 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. Read more about the steps to do this at the Dubai government website.
Once you’re approved, remember to register for a Resident Identity Card, also known as an Emirates ID. Every resident, whether citizen or expat, must have one.
After your needs for Dubai residency are fulfilled, it’s time to fix your child’s needs at SISD.
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!
The Nol card is your one ticket to all of Dubai’s transportation. Whether you want a trip on a bus or train, or need to take the Water Bus to avoid crowds, the Nol card is a one-stop shop to pay for all of your tickets.
Moving in with your entire family is a different story than just getting a studio apartment by yourself. You’ll definitely need to research on accommodations long before you move in.
Check out sites like Dubizzle for landlords renting out their property. Most landlords prefer to ask for rent with a 6-12 month advance so be sure that your finances are read for this!
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.