5 Tips to Adjust to Dubai’s Multi-Cultural Environment
When you enter your plane bound for Dubai, it hits you that Dubai is one of the most multi-cultural countries in the world. While hunkering down on your seat for the 9 hour flight, you head to the bathroom. You head down the aisle to the end of the plane and meet the faces of countless passengers. Your eyes lock with Caucasians, Malaysians, Middle Easterns, and fellow Pinoys. You start to realize that you're up for an international experience in the Pearl of the Middle East.
Visiting Dubai may seem like you'd just arrived in the UN since there are a lot of people in search of Dubai jobs. The population consists mainly of expatriates who are from different backgrounds, primarily coming from India, Bangladesh, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and the Philippines. Aside from the multi-cultural environment in Dubai, the culture is vast and very different than that of the Philippines. Dubai has many customs like how to act during Ramadan that may be hard to follow for Filipinos.
Be Naive and Flexible, Don't expect
When going to a new country perceived as glamorous as Dubai, immediately, you can expect a lot of new things to enter your life. You may expect a lot of fun, travel and new friends right away aside from working at your Dubai job. A better way to go about arriving to a new country is to not expect anything and be flexible with your lifestyle. Simply do research on the country and the culture, go about your new job with a fresh mindset. In Dubai, almost everyone has a different manner of enjoying their free time, or how they are during work hours. You must be flexible and adaptable to the different lifestyles of your peers. In order to enjoy down time, go with the flow. Who knows, you may have a lot more fun exploring new lifestyles.
Respect is one of the most important virtues in Dubai. Any form of disrespect is punishable by law. Any form of an action deemed provocative is displeasing such as holding or touching a female, taking photos without permission, or holding hands and kissing in public for non-married couples are punishable. Religion is a touchy subject in Dubai, a lot of them are strong-willed when it comes to religion, it's best to respect their different practices like during their salat times, their different times of prayer throughout the day.
Be Knowledgeable about Dubai culture and practices
Dubai has a lot practices that you should be prepared for. One of the major events that you'll need to be knowledgable about is Ramadan. There is no prospective date for when Ramadan begins, they often determine this based on moon sightings. For those who are unaware of how Muslims practice Ramadan, they fast for 30 days, only having dinner during Iftar, the daily evening meal when they break their fast during sunset.
Be sensitive to your Muslim coworkers at your Dubai job such as not eating or drinking in front of them. Helping them since they are low on energy throughout the day. Also, don't hassle Muslims during Ramadan, since the extra work is just going to tire them further. A great way is to even support Muslim friends by joining in their fast.
Be Active with your family and friends back home
Sometimes, it can be frustrating always having to re-adjust. You can't always be yourself in the office, or even hanging out with new friends. A great way to cope when being away from your usual life back home, especially for the first few months is to keep in contact with family and friends back home. Having a friendly face to share your new experiences, talk about your favorite topics and even your concerns about living your new life.
Most importantly, be open. There are a lot of Filipino living in Dubai that it can be easy to form a group and only befriend fellow kababayans. It's a good thing to have your family away from home; however, when already in a multi-cultural environment, enjoy the company of others. Learn about Muslim culture, Indian practices, Sri Lankan dishes. While you decided to work in Dubai for the financial gain, you can leave with an understanding of new cultures, new friends and a more worldly perspective.