25th May 2023

My tips for when relocating to the Middle East.


Moving to the Middle East over a year ago has been quite a journey for me. Adapting to a new culture has been a mix of excitement and challenges. The Middle East is a region with a fascinating history, vibrant culture, and beautiful traditions. It’s important to understand and respect these customs while living here. Coming from a quiet village outside of Glasgow, I was in for a major culture shock when I arrived in the bustling city of Dubai. It took some time to adjust to the fast-paced lifestyle and vibrant atmosphere, but it’s been an eye-opening experience. Here are some relatable tips that I’ve found helpful in navigating cultural differences and settling into life in the Middle East


  1. Understand the culture: The Middle East has a unique culture that is different from the Western world. It is important to research and understand the customs, traditions, and values of the region to avoid cultural misunderstandings. It was quite a culture shock moving from a quiet village outside of Glasgow to the bustling city of Dubai.
  2. Dress appropriately: Dress codes are more conservative in the Middle East, particularly for women. It is important to dress modestly and respectfully in public, especially in religious or cultural sites.
  3. Embrace the language: Arabic is the official language in most countries in the Middle East. Therefore, learning basic phrases can help you communicate better with locals and make the transition easier. Arabic is prevalent in most Middle East countries, therefore taking the time to learn basic phrases such as ‘As-salaam Alaikum (Peace be upon you – a common greeting) and ‘Shukran’ (Thank you) can go a long way. These basic phrases may not mean much but they can help communicate with locals.
  4. Be prepared for the weather: The scorching temperature in the Middle East takes no prisoners. So, make sure you bring appropriate clothing and accessories to stay cool and protected from the sun. One thing I learned is to prioritize comfort and sun protection.
  5. Understand the laws: The laws in the Middle East are different from Western countries. It is important to research the laws and regulations of your new home to avoid any legal issues. Ignorance of the law won’t be an excuse, so it’s better to be well informed.
  6. Find a community: It can be helpful to connect with ex-pat groups or local communities to help you adjust to life in the Middle East and make new friends. Feeling connected is important when settling into a new place. Joining ex-pat groups or engaging with local communities can be a great way to find support, make new friends, and ease the transition into Middle Eastern life. They understand the challenges you might face and can offer valuable advice and companionship. Sports teams can also be a big help to transition into a new life.
  7. Be respectful: Respect for the culture and customs of the Middle East is important. Be mindful of your behaviour in public and avoid actions that may be considered disrespectful or offensive.
  8. Consider hiring a relocation company: Relocating to the Middle East can be complex and overwhelming. Consider hiring a relocation company to help you with the process of finding housing, obtaining visas, and other logistical issues. The expertise of a relocation company can make a tough task a breeze as they have all the local knowledge.
  9. Embrace the adventure: Above all, embrace this unique and enriching experience. Relocating to the Middle East offers a world of opportunities to explore the region, immerse yourself in a new culture, and try new things. It’s a chance to broaden your horizons and create memories that will last a lifetime.