Our Favorite Way to Travel Locally

Careem has become our favorite way to get around the UAE. First download the app to your phone from the Google Play Store. You should already have the app preinstalled on your phone. Apps are the preferred way to navigate UAE expat life.

Our family likes Careem because you can earn free rides, the cars are nicer and cleaner than your average taxi, and are heavily managed by their app. Not only can you follow the progress of your trip on the app itself, but you can enter your destination and even change it mid travel. This solves a lot of confusion about your destination that can occur with a language barrier of any given driver.

At pick up, your driver looks for you which is nice. A tip as well as a rating can be given after your trip. All financial exchanges occur by card. During Covid, it is prudent to have as little exchange as possible.

Another nice thing is that your driver can communicate with you directly to clear up any confusion that may be associated with the booked trip. Also, free-wifi is available. Long trips can be used to keep working or communicating with friends and family. The ride is incredibly smooth in the upscale cars.

Enjoy your travel!

Run for the Border

After our family did their two-week quarantine in Dubai as tourists, we were able to cross the border into Abu Dhabi. This required another Covid PCR test with negative results. In this instance we did not have to endure both nasal cavities being swabbed, but just one. Prices for the test vary, so shop around before committing to your existing health provider.

The lines were long at the checkpoint and we had to produce our passport showing when we arrived in the UAE. Also, we needed our Covid results. I do not know what would have happened if our results were positive. Requirements seem to keep changing based on the number of cases. It is possible they would have turned us around and made us go back to Dubai or let us go to our villa in Abu Dhabi to start the fourteen-day quarantine process all over again. Fortunately, the border crossing went smoothly for us at the check point.

Interestingly enough, at the checkpoint only two passengers and a driver are allowed per car. Our family of four had to be in separate cars to cross. In Abu Dhabi itself, we can be in the same car together. However, we must all wear masks in the car, or risk being stopped by police and fined. A single driver does not need to wear a mask while driving.

Within six days of our PCR test to cross the border another test had to be administered, or a five thousand AED fine per person would be assessed on our residency visa (1,361.30 United States Dollars). At this time there are four of us who were facing this requirement.

Keep in mind this is the state of things only at this moment. Requirements are in flux. Yet as is always the case in the UAE, one must certainly adhere to the rules or face being deported and/or fined. This is how the UAE effectively controls their borders.

Have it Delivered

The UAE has a huge service industry, everything can be delivered here. Couriers and delivery people are found everywhere often on small motorcycles with a little box attached to the back. Even large items involving a truck can be purchased and delivered in only a few hours. If the store doesn’t offer delivery there are couriers waiting to serve you with amazing response time.

It is not unusual to make a purchase at Ikea for example and then be rushing home, so the delivery doesn’t arrive at your door before you do. A large order is no exception. Many deliveries are free or so affordable that it makes little sense to carry your own items from the store. installation of almost anything is readily available, as well. If a store doesn’t offer the service (which is highly unlikely) then a private company will be attending your needs promptly.

Food delivery of prepared meals through Talabat, directly through restaurants, or even groceries is part of daily living here. Lu Lu’s Webstore seems to be the favorite for groceries by most expats, but that can change on a dime as competition is alive and well here for most things. It’s important to stay networked on social media to keep up with the change and companies that are doing things better than one you have gotten used to using.

Often, ordering food from restaurants can be less expensive than trying to make a meal for your family. Having lived in the land of Costco, we found ourselves speculating where the bulk suppliers were. We were wondering not only for our own use but to explain how restaurants were able to provide such an affordable menu. The sad news fellow American expats, Costco has not made its way to the UAE yet.

Amazon has recently acquired Souq (which can also be added as an app on your phone). I have ordered things and they have been delivered from Dubai in only a few hours for a nominal fee. Amazon is working hard to transform this company to be the staple here like it is for families in the States. I am pleased with their progress. You can use your Amazon account here in conjunction with Borderlinx. All delivery options seem almost too reasonable and make expat life much easier.

It can be difficult to let go of American thinking that it’s better to do and acquire needed items yourself. However, this economy thrives with delivery options and in this case, it is definitely better to adapt and save yourself time as well as money.

As always, thank you for joining us on our adventure as we expat in Abu Dhabi!
Continue reading “Have it Delivered”

They Pride Themselves on Service

In a lyric from Disney’s Aladdin you might recall Robin Williams as the genie singing, “We pride ourselves on service.” As trite as that may sound, that is exactly what kept running through my head as people tried to help me do everything! I had to get used to people calling me Madame everywhere I went. There is a huge population of service here.

Many people have hired help in the form of maids, nannies, and drivers. The service industry comprises mostly of Filipinos. They are very polite and seem to enjoy working in Abu Dhabi. This took a lot of getting used to for me. We do hire help in the states such as housekeepers and lawn care quite frequently. However here, the help is imbedded in the family. Every home has separate quarters for the help with at least a maid’s room and adjoining bathroom.

Restrooms in malls and restaurants have attendants running in the minute you leave the stall to clean up after your visit. Some stand by to offer you towels or anything you might need. I often felt like I need to apologize and assure them I did not soil their very clean restrooms. I could accept that a fancy restaurant would want that type of service, but a mall has heavy traffic, so it takes some getting used to.

Women advertise on Facebook when they are leaving the country to place their nannies or maids with other families. The ads usually are glowing testimonials of how they could never have managed life without their maids.  If the family stays in the middle East these maids often move with them. Many wear uniforms like scrubs as they move about the community with people’s children.

You can’t really be a “No Helpian” if you come to the UAE. These people depend on us expats to make a living. I just do my best to tip well. Unfortunately, tipping is a bit of a Western habit as well. However, I will save that for another post.

If you are going to expat in the UAE, you might as well get used to the idea that there is a whole service industry set up to make your life easier at very little cost. Hopefully, you can find ways to adapt to this as expats will not change the economy here. You can be generous with your tips and what you choose to pay your help.

Once again, thank you for joining us on our adventure as we expat in Abu Dhabi!

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